Bill Bentrim Helps Kids Cope Through Reading
I’ve said it so many times: One of the pleasures of being a writer has been getting to know other writers. One such writer is Bill Bentrim, an author of children’s books that are both laugh-out-loud funny and seriously helpful to his young readers and their parents. I’ll let Bill tell you about himself in this quote I took from his website –http://www.bentrim.info/ “As a parent, grandparent, teacher, guidance counselor and room parent for 9 consecutive years I have often seen troubled children. Likewise I have seen far more well adjusted, happy, delightful children. My hope is that my words might move some children from the troubled category to the well adjusted category.” Okay … doesn’t that sound like the perfect person to be writing for kids?
Enough from me. Here’s Bill –
Why I write.
Pause for a moment and ponder your childhood. Honesty should compel you to realize there were many times in childhood when you were confused or even frightened. Many times that confusion or fear could have been easily addressed if noticed. Parenting is hard and earning a living while getting progeny to gymnastics, Scouts, choir, church or whatever they are in, is enormously time consuming. Kids and their feelings can be flying under the radar of the most conscientious parent.
I guess that rather laboriously details why I write. My writing tries to identify and simplify complicated life situations that often face children. I work diligently to not trivialize whatever the child might be feeling. “Oh, you’ll grow out of it,” may be true but certainly doesn’t deal with whatever the child is currently experiencing.
My passion for literacy is found in many of my blog posts. I know how much reading molded my life. George Orwell helped me generate a skeptical perception of authority. The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek by Evelyn Sibley Lampman captured my love of the unique unknown. Eleanor Cameron’s Mr. Bass’s books enthralled me with science and it’s wonders. Heinlein introduced me to philosophic musing and Tolkien to a fascination with fantasy. Tom Swift’s adventure novels emphasized science, invention and technology. So much of my life has been molded by what I read.
Those stories infused me with a strong sense of justice, that good should be rewarded and evil should be punished. I feel the weak should be nurtured and protected, that bullies are bad and girls are just as good as boys. These are core principles that form when you are young.
As an author I want to provide healthy role models who try to live a positive life. I want to help kids understand things like discrimination, domestic abuse, bullying and Internet safety. Preaching to kids is counterproductive and often encourages them to rebel against what ever topic is being rammed down their throat by well intentioned adults. However if you can present a topic in a palatable manner with an understanding of their feelings, kids may actually learn.
Positive reinforcement promotes further writing. I received an email from a woman telling me she used my book, Mommy’s Black Eye to initiate a discussion on domestic violence with her teen age daughter who was in an abusive relationship. That email provided me all the feedback I needed to want to write more. I am hoping to change the world, one person at a time. If my writing helps one single person, I am satisfied.
Topics for new books pop up nearly every day. Short or Tall, Doesn’t Matter at All was motivated by a delightful young lady who was the shortest girl in fifth grade and dreadfully tired of short jokes. What About Me was motivated by the frustration of a healthy child wondering if he was loved as much as his sick sibling. Jack’s Diabetes followed my meeting of 12 year old Jason who had just gotten his insulin pump. He was indignant over the lack of knowledge of his peers and even his own lack of knowledge on a disease that changed his life.
Hardy Belch’s stories are mild adventures that hope to instill fair play and positive virtues. Hardy Belch and the Predator is currently in illustration. Hardy and his cousin Mardi, learn that the Internet can be dangerous. My goal isn’t to frighten kids about the Internet but to instill in them a smidgen of healthy skepticism. Hardy’s dog, Tiny is an enormous telepathic dog, who is a frequent purveyor of common sense. Tiny doesn’t see a monster in Hardy Belch and the Green Man, he sees a frightened, disfigured person hoping to find a friend. The Hardy Belch books are meant to be fun to read and provide good role models.
A child who feels good about themselves will be better coping with the many, many stressful situations in today’s world. The small part my books may have in helping kids understand the world around them provides me with enormous satisfaction and all the impetus I need to continue to write.
Thanks, Bill for stopping by Birth of a Novel.
One more quote from Bill’s website (love, love, love this): “Sometimes I write merely to keep my head from exploding with ideas.”
Bill Bentrim’s blog – http://bookrevues.blogspot.com/