We were thrilled to have writer Steven Vinacour, author of Ted And His Time Travelling Toilet, join us on Lockdown Lives recently.
After the success of his first children’s book, Steven had to take his unstructured creative writing classes out of schools and onto Facebook Lives, where his daily shows are now spreading joy to over 5,000 households. In these wonderful and wacky workshops, Steven invites kids to co-write a new book with him, with the help of his 11 and 14-year-old children, where all ideas are enthusiastically encouraged.
We caught up with Steven to find out how he’s making magic in lockdown and how you can become a part of one of the biggest collaborative free books in children’s literature - discover it for yourself on Kidadl TV! Here are just a few of the (many) things that Steven taught us…
We Can Still Be Together While Apart
“The idea for this book is that kids can come in at any moment and pitch forward ideas and then I would turn it into a book and release it at the end of lockdown for free, so everyone can be involved. We've got people from all over the world tuning in, from 3-year-olds to grandmothers with their grandchildren. People all over the world tune in and they’re all texting outside of the show so it's been great for them, because they're not seeing their friends and it's a real shame. On a personal note, having a family project has stopped us all thinking about the reality of what’s going on, especially for kids. When lockdown first started my son was getting a bit anxious watching TV, he didn’t like what he was seeing, so I said to my wife I’m going to do something that he can look forward to every day and just have some fun.”
There’s No Such Thing As A Bad Idea
“We’re getting all sorts of crazy ideas, it’s a fantasy adventure and it is absolutely nuts! Unstructured creative writing is not done as much in schools nowadays, but I love it. That’s what I loved as a kid. I’ve got a creative side and that's what I’ve always encouraged and will encourage in anyone. A lot of kids tell me they've written a book or they want to write a book and that's fantastic! If you can keep kids reading and writing then you absolutely should.”
Why Listening To Our Kids Is So Important
“It's amazing when someone will listen to your ideas that are nuts. [The kids] can come up with anything they like and we riff off of it. It's their world and they’re coming up with ideas and there’s someone listening to them and encouraging their silliness. Also, if they see that we can have fun during something [such as lockdown] that is not fun at all, that there are ways around it and we can turn a negative into a positive, then that's what we should be teaching them. We’ve got to carry on.”
Children Are The Best Critics
“I love working with kids, it’s more interactive, they tell you how it is very quickly. The rule is, that if I’m writing something and they don’t get it, if they don’t laugh, then it doesn’t stay in, because at that age there needs to be laughs on every page. So it’s hard, with my own work I’ve had to let some jokes go but there’s nothing I can do about that! But in regards to this, they wrote it, it’s their project. And now they'll have a memory with their name on it. It certainly is something for kids by kids, and I hope they get something out of it. I hope they enjoy reading it back and remembering that we actually created something quite exciting during a very difficult time.”
Steven is the author of ‘Ted & His Time-Travelling Toilet’. The first in the series Roman Rewind is available now from bookstores or direct from his website www.tedstoilet.co.uk. He runs a live creative writing show during lockdown where you can be the star and co-author of an actual book. Just go to Facebook for more details.