Follow the Flying Fish
The Adventures of Sir Thomas, Tomato & Trout the Ox

What Genre Is It?

            Families reading together, a good thing, right? Methinks all would agree that families reading together is something we, as a society, should encourage. Because families reading together is really about families spending time together, learning from one another, learning about one another. That’s a good thing right?
            You can imagine my surprise when I found out that my happy little fairytale, written specifically for families to read together, is considered by the book industry (bookstores, agents and publishers) to be lacking a focused genre. Turns out there is no genre for families reading together.
            This may be a surprise to the people who buy books from family sections of bookstores. Yes, there are family sections, and family books, but those books are aimed at specific readers, such as, boys age ten to thirteen, or girls age seven to nine. If families read these books together, the adults are expected to accept that they are reading a child’s book, and younger children, too young to understand, are supposed to stay quiet.
            These books do not engage readers outside the target audience, and they are specifically designed not to. If they do not exclude readers outside the target audience, they are said by the book industry to lack a focused audience, and also to lack a genre.
            So what about Alice in Wonderland? What about Peter Pan? What about The Little Prince? All these books use simple language to convey extremely complex ideas, many of which can’t possibly be understood by a child reading alone.
            Even so, children do read them, because there is a lot in those books to entertain children. Teenagers can read them, experiencing an entirely new story because they understand the world better then children. Adults can read these books, engaging with them on a conceptual level that most teenagers never could. Three readings, at three different times in a single person’s life, can yield three different stories, all a joy to read.
            Likewise, a family of varying age, reading these books together, can enjoy the story, simultaneously, on several different levels. On top of that, aged members of the family can hear the story again, not only enjoying it in a new way, but enjoying the experience of watching the younger members of the family embark on new understanding.
            The best part is, and this is key, as children grasp at ideas they can’t understand, older members of the family can explain it to them. This is communication, discussion, interaction. This is why these stories are so important, because they bring families together as nothing else can.
            This isn’t just an issue for families; it’s an issue for mankind. Humanity seems crippled by disinterest. We’re disinterested because we consume media alongside people, but never WITH people. We never talk about it, we never engage it. We learned this habit in childhood. It’s not a natural state, so it’s easy to break, all we have to do is share. All we have to do is read together, as a family.
            Why does the book industry discourage this kind of story? Because it’s easier to market books for more specific genres. That’s it, that’s really it, that’s the only reason. It’s easier and we, as a society, have accepted it. We don’t even see the difference anymore. We see pop culture references from twenty years ago in children’s stories as a nod to adults, and believe that’s enough. The book (and movie) industry is this way because we haven’t told them what we want, depth.
            Depth not only in the story, but depth in the interaction and discussion we share with our children. Not the depth of explaining to children what a Beach Boys song is, but the depth of explaining the inequalities of wealth, and where these inequalities come from. The depth of explaining where cruelty comes from, and what our responsibilities are as members of the human community.
            Children want to understand these things, they’re forming ideas already. If there is one great injustice inflicted upon children, it is that adults expect them to be ignorant. Only give a child access to ideas and opportunity for curiosity, and the roads they create with youth and knowledge can lead to wisdom adults can’t imagine.
            The way to do that, and possibly the only way to do that, is to share the experience of life with children. The best way is to read with them, read books designed for the whole family to enjoy.
            For this we need books designed to engage adults and children, books with the genre of Family. A few already exist, like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and The Little Prince. How do we get more?

#1) Talk to our families about it. What do they think?

#2) Talk to our friends about it. What do they think?

#3) Talk to our friends about it. I’m serious. The only way people change things is by talking to their friends. Your friends need to know you think this is a good idea. Your friends need to consider it themselves. Only then will they talk to their friends, and spread the word.

#4) Buy the Sir Thomas book. At this point I’m ready to give the book away, because I think it’s important to show the world that this genre is possible, and good, and important. Unfortunately I’m not over endowed with time or money so I can’t afford to give them away, but they’re cheap, which is as close as I can get.

#5) Harass your local bookstores, tell them you want this. Call and write and talk to the manager in person. They won’t know you want it unless you tell them.

#6) Write one yourself! Why not? If it’s a new genre it’ll need more material!

            Unfortunately this is a revolution, a revolution of mind. If you think this is a good idea, think of yourself as a revolutionary, because sadly, you are. There’s no way to get people to see it unless you show it to them. It begins with you, and only you can make it happen.

 

Click HERE to read chapter 1.

Click HERE to read chapter 2.

Click HERE to read chapter 3.

Click HERE to see an illustration.

Click HERE to get your own Hand Bound copy.

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