If you’ve been following this podcast long enough, you already know how much I am all for reading children’s books as a way to bond with our kids. Not only do they enrich our children’s vocabulary, imagination, and critical-thinking skills, but they also help shape our child’s understanding of themselves and the world. On today’s episode, to celebrate the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week, I’m placing the spotlight on Jane Smith, an author of historical fiction children’s books. Join our conversation as she shares why she loves researching, planning, and writing historical fiction books, and how we can teach history to our kids in a fun, entertaining and educational way.
Jane Smith is an Australian author from Queensland. She is a librarian, archivist and freelance editor who enjoys researching and writing about history, fiction, and non-fiction for adults. Jane’s latest release is ‘Carly Mills Pioneer Girl’, a children’s historical fiction series that celebrates the achievements of remarkable women who have changed the world. Jane is also the author of the nonfiction ‘Australian Bushrangers’ series for children, and the first 8 episodes of the historical fiction series, ‘Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy’. Three of her children’s books have been short- or long-listed for significant literary awards. Jane also writes for adults and she loves everything to do with books: writing, reading, reviewing, researching, editing, cataloguing, and speaking to groups of adults and children about writing.
Listen to my conversation with Jane Smith and learn:
- a little bit about her life before becoming an author
- how she got her first book published and what changed in her life from there
- how she does research; or what she fondly refers to as “digging up the secrets”
- how she balances writing fiction and nonfiction for both children and adults
- what specifically fuels her love for writing
- how long it took her to write her latest book series: Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl
- The women in history whom she got the inspiration for her book characters from
- Jane shares what her first and second book in the Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl series are all about
- How her book tour went and how the feedback was like from teachers, parents and even kids
- What she learned about writing history for children that she hopes children will also love learning about
Jane’s Smith’s Tips and Advice for Writers and Authors Wanting to Write a Book Series:
- It’s so important to plan. You don’t just have to follow a narrative arc for one book, but you need to come up with a bigger arc for the whole series.
- You can make your characters more developed as the books go along.
- Record everything that you do – characteristics, events, traits, because you don’t wanna write something that contradicts what’s happened in your characters.
Take-Home Message for Parents, Carers, and most Professionals Working with Children:
“Read to them and talk to them about what they read. I like to encourage diversity in reading, but in my opinion, historical fiction is a great way to teach kids about society without them realizing that they’re learning.”
“I think that knowledge of history is really vital to being a good citizen, because it makes us understand why we are the way we are, what has worked in the past and what hasn’t worked, and I think that without a fairly sound knowledge of history, we’ve just got one left to help us resolve social problems. So, it’s really essential to know about history to move towards a fairer and just society. Reading historical fiction helps you learn about history in an entertaining, interesting way.”
“Historical fiction is a great way to teach children about the world, and at the same time, help them to develop their language and interview skills.”
Jane Smith – https://www.janesmithauthor.com/
Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl – https://www.carlymillspioneergirl.com/
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