UPDATE 1: Hurray! First target hit!
We've already hit our first funding target so the great news is that the books will definitely be published! But we've got so many more plans for Pal and his friend so it's...
The more backers we get, the more material we can create to support families and teachers in engaging with the books to help develop young minds...so please keep the pledges coming.
To thank our backers so far, here is a little video we shot on Skokholm Island, one of the islands that inspired the Island Friends stories. . .
Inspiring Kids to Make their Own Luck
We believe that if children learn to be self-starters from a young age, they'll be better equipped to 'make their own luck' in life, and that nature is the best example of this spirit in action.
What Makes these Stories Different?
We couldn't find any books for young children out there that were aimed specifically at developing enterprising mindsets and 'self-efficacy' from their earliest years.
We also know how amazing nature is as an example of enterprising characteristics such as innovation, creative problem solving, adaptability, overcoming adversity and sheer perseverance.
We've brought these together in books that are fun, vibrant and engaging for young children (ages 2 to 7), but which also have really positive messages about the environment and a 'make your own luck' approach to life.
The Island Friends series of books, learning materials, games and resources, are stories with a purpose. They aim to instil in very young children an independent, enterprising and adventurous spirit, whilst also helping them learn about the natural environment.
What We've Done Already
We've been working on this for a year or so and we've fully developed three stories, based around the adventures of 'Puffin Pal' and his Island Friends, each with one or more enterprising characteristics or behaviours embedded in the narrative.
We already have print-ready artwork for the first three stories. These are:
- Welcome Home Puffin Pal
- Pal and the Surprise Party
- Pal's Journey to the Centre of the Island
The Enterprise Eggs!
We're both University Lecturers (Click here for Lucy's Linked In Profile, Click here for Chris's Linked In Profile) who work on delivering enterprise education to students in our 'day jobs', but we believe that developing enterprising characteristics in chldren from a very young age is crucial to help them achieve their true potential.
In developing the Island Friends books, we’ve read and analysed a vast range of research and writing on enterprising mindsets and young children. We reviewed and synthesised the literature, and then put it through the filter of ‘The Lucky Way’ - the series of principles and values on which we have based our social enterprise ‘We Are Lucky’, and added in our belief that nature provides the greatest examples and the very best designs (watch out for further updates on how we’re using Biomimicry in the coming weeks).
The result of this is the framework of seven key principles of an enterprising mindset on which we’ve based the Island Friends books.
We could have used academic jargon to describe these and impress you with our credentials, but hey, we know from being inside the system that most of the ‘big talk’ is just a smoke screen. Human beings like simple language and plain speaking.
So, we’ve explained it our way…let us introduce you to, the Enterprise Eggs…
The eggs are a way of identifying key elements of an enterprising mindset, and each of our books and their supporting learning materials and activities will use the eggs as a way of identifying which elements they focus on.
So, our plan (if we achieve our stretch goal) is that when you receive your books, each one will show which of the ‘eggs’ it focuses on, and details of how to download additional activities online. If we achieve our target we’ll be able to develop "Grown-ups’ Guides" to each of the books and free to download activities and resources that you can use alongside the books to help develop your children's enterprising minds further.
We’ve also mapped the books against the English Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework and the Welsh Foundation Phase and if we achieve our target we plan to put together teacher resources packs with activities for each of the seven areas within the frameworks (we’ll be adding further updates on this too over the coming weeks).
What We Need
Well, printing the books at a really good quality on FSC approved paper here in the UK is going to be the biggest cost for us, so that’s why we’re running this campaign. We've chosen an excellent local printer whom we trust to create books that we can be proud of, and once we achieve our funding goal, all the material is ready to go to print.
We'll be contributing ourselves, but we're hoping to achieve our minimum funding target of £3500 from backers and 'pre-orders' of the first edition to contribute to the costs.
We'd like to go far beyond this, however, and the more backing we get, the quicker we'll be able to develop further books in the series along with learning materials and an online presence for Pal and his friends.
Our priority is sharing the messages behind these stories with as many young people as possible, so the more funding we get, the more we'll be able to do.
What You'll Get
We've put together a range of reward packages for our backers. There are some low cost options that we hope everyone will be able to afford and some higher level backer options including the opportunity to have your name (or organisation logo) printed in all three books and get signed copies of the stories, Island Friends stickers, handmade feltwork portraits of Puffin Pal, and other goodies. See the options below and on the right for more details >>>
Timescales for production
If we reach our funding target we'll be able to go to print in early October, and our fab print company have committed to getting the books to us by the end of October.
We'll be posting them in November (either to you - or direct to an address of your choice) so there'll be plenty of time for you to get them out to your loved ones before the Christmas posting deadlines.
The feedback so far... :)
We created a prototype of the first book, which we asked a range of families to test-drive for us, and we've also shown a range of conservationists and other 'people we trust' to get feedback so we could make the stories better.
Here are a few of their comments:
"The Island Friends stories offer a fantastic way for very young children to learn about wildlife and our natural environment whilst also developing those enterprising skills they will need to survive and adapt in our rapidly changing world. They'll be a great resource for educators and for parents and guardians in helping children engage with these issues from their earliest years." Llinos Richards, Education Officer, Natural Resources Wales.
“We think they are fantastic.” Giselle Eagle and Richard Brown, Skokholm Island Wardens.
“In the last two weeks, Puffin Pal has suddenly become his favourite book to read at bedtime!” Al (Dad to Connor)
“Grace (8yrs old) really enjoyed the book” Matt
“I have read your lovely book with all my kids who are 8, 4 and 2. Also my two nieces who are 3. They were all interested from beginning to end and appeared to enjoy the story.” Rhiannon
“The book is fab… The size is great for Maisy too - she's gone for it a few times without me, and we have a huge box of books so it's a winner!" Kath
A Bit More About the Project
Who We Are
We're both educators with a passion for supporting young people to make their own luck in life.
See the web site for our social enterprise 'We Are Lucky' for more...
We are both University lecturers and Chris is a designer (he does the pictures), and Lucy is a writer and marketer (she does the words), but we believe that by reaching really young children with messages about being a self-starter, it's possible to develop a generation of young people who will be able to create fantastic, happy, successful lives for themselves, whatever their background or circumstances.
The Stories and Artwork
We've spent the last year developing the characters, stories and artwork - writing and storyboarding, hand-making each character in felt, scanning them in, and completing the illustrations on screen.
Each animal has its own unique abilities, but above all they are adaptable and enterprising. We wanted to make our stories simple yet meaningful, and create visuals that feel accessible to children who might want to draw or make their own characters and stories.
Simple shapes and natural materials like felt are used alongside digital techniques. We plan to develop augmented reality versions of our books which children or adults will be able to scan to find out more information about characters and topics covered.
Inspired by Nature
We believe that enterprising young people make for successful, independent adults, and that these characteristics and thinking patterns can be established at a young age.
We also believe strongly in protecting and supporting our natural environment. In bringing these two together, the Island Friends stories use nature's enterprising abilities as a way of developing these same characteristics in young readers.
The way wildlife adapts and responds to change, making the best of the resources available to survive and thrive in the most difficult of environmental circumstances inspired us to write these stories.
The range of characters we have developed are based on the eco-systems of the seabird colonies that exist on our coastlines here in the UK.
The stories are located on and around an island we call 'Lucky Island', which is inspired by the islands off the Pembrokeshire Coast in our native Wales. The islands of Skomer and Skokholm are home to some of the most significant populations of seabirds in the world, and they are nature reserves managed by the fantastic folk at the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. The Trust has a special role to play in keeping these islands protected, and as members (and Lucy used to work for the Trust) we want to support them as much as we can.
So, we've tried to show the amazing creatures that populate these islands in the stories, which include information about the Manx Shearwaters, Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, and other wildlife in ways that will help young children appreciate the need to protect their habitats for future generations.
Watch the video below to find out more about Pembrokeshire's Islands.
Learning Through Stories
We believe that children who learn to be independent, enterprising and self-motivated early in life are better equipped to be successful, happy adults, and we also believe that stories offer enormous opportunities for learning. So we created these books with educators in mind and we'd love to see them used by teachers, libraries and conservation organisations as educational tools.
The books are designed to be suitable for Early Years and Key Stage 1, and we've mapped them against the curriculum so they offer opportunities for learning across a range of national curriculum subjects.
Each story also has an enterprising attitude/skill/behaviour woven into the narrative. For example, the first book 'Welcome Home Puffin Pal' celebrates Pal's perseverance and resilience when faced with hard work and challenges.
Once we have kickstarted the project we plan to develop a range of resources and materials to support teachers in using Island Friends stories as a teaching and learning aid including:
- Lesson plans
- Worksheets and activities
- Make and do materials
- Classroom posters and wall charts
- Additional information resources (e.g. Animal fact sheets)
We'd also love to receive feedback from teachers on what works and what doesn't and how best we could support them in developing additional materials.
Self-publishing this first print run will enable us to retain control over the quality of the materials used and make sure the books are as wonderful as we want them to be.
We believe strongly in hand-crafted work, and want to make these books as beautiful as they are engaging. We also want to make sure they have a low impact on the environment and that they are sourced and printed locally.
So, we've found a wonderful, traditional print company - Gomer Press - and have worked closely with them on the specifications to ensure excellent quality, and a format that will be comfortable for little hands to hold. The hardback books will be beautifully presented, and printed locally here in Wales on a lovely quality FSC approved paper stock.
We've designed these books to be read either alone or with an adult and at 32-36 pages each, they are perfect as a bedtime story that you can talk through or interact with as you progress.
If we receive significant backing, one of our 'stretch goals' is to embed augmented reality images in the texts which will enable you to further enrich the experience by scanning the image and visiting a web page with further details about the characters, stories and eco-systems involved.
The Future for Pal and his Island Friends
We have a vision to develop a range of more than twenty stories and adventures for Puffin Pal and his Island Friends, which will cover a broad range of skills, attributes and behaviours associated with enterprise and self-starting attitudes to life. The more backing we get, the faster we can develop:
- Further books
- Teacher resources
- Parent/guardian resources
- Interactive digital editions and resources / an app.
- Make and do kits and activities
- Toys and games
- Animated series
In addition, we'd like to look at developing similar ranges of stories based on other eco-systems.
It would be amazing to work with a publishing or media partner on taking the Island Friends stories to a wider audience, so if you're in these industries and are interested in working with us then please do get in touch.
But these are for the future - right now we just need some backing through pre-orders to enable us to go ahead with this first print run. We then hope to work with conservation charity partners and schools to develop our educational materials and merchandise for launch in Spring 2014.
Risks and challenges
We've already faced some challenges in developing these books alongside our jobs, but we're confident now that we can get them to print with support from our backers. We've sourced a fantastic, reliable print company here in Wales and believe they'll do an excellent job for us.
All we need now are people who believe in the message and the characters to support us, booksellers to stock the books and the partnership of wildlife and conservation organisations, schools, teachers, parents and libraries to support the project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)