Welcome to Elephant Notes . . . our periodic take on some of the ideas, issues, and news impacting parents, children, and reading. This week, an interview with author Ashley Sorenson.
This month, we caught up with Ashley Sorenson, author of the fantastic book Color Blocked.
Color Blocked is interactive, fun, and sure to bring a lot of laughs. It tells the a wonderfully creative story about what happens when a machine that spews out color gets stopped up. To fix the machine and bring color back to the world, children and parents must work together by spinning the book upside-down and flipping it from side-to-side. But be careful—sometimes these colors have a mind of their own.
What inspired you to become a children’s book author?
My dad wrote children’s stories and read those as well as traditional children’s books to us growing up. He often expressed how he’d love to have one of his stories published and that always stuck with me. He passed away in 2006 and, although his stories weren’t quite what the market is looking for, I was able to write and publish my own. My first book, The Very Cold No Number Day is dedicated to my dad, while Color Blocked is dedicated to my Mom.
Color Blocked uses interactivity in such a creative way! The reader is “responsible” for turning the books to generate the color in subsequent pages — how did this idea come about?
I have always found inspiration in words. Color Blocked is often used in reference to fashion but I was instantly inspired to create an interactive and educational book based on that concept. I love the idea of children reading, learning and problem solving all in one interactive story while parents laughed along with them!
Was the use of color as the form of interactivity a very specific choice?
Yes. Color is a great way to create visual energy within a story. In Color Blocked color is used as both a teaching tool as well as to progressively move the story forward.
In your opinion, why is art, creativity, and self-expression so important for young children?
Companies are born in part because of innovative ideas. It’s important that young children not only understand traditional teaching criteria but also that they are critical, innovative and independent thinkers. Art, creative exploration and self-expression are all part of that. Creative problem solving and innovation is vital for advancement and I hope to help parents and teachers inspire creativity for years to come.
Were there other interactive books that inspired this book?
Anything that gets children more involved and excited about reading was exciting for me to incorporate into a children’s book. Press Here was among the many interactive books that not only inspired me but that also incorporated an educational element I was looking for. With Color Blocked I wanted to make color the main focus while incorporating more of a storyline for the reader to follow and it does just that!
Who were your favorite authors or books when you were a child?
That’s difficult as there are so many that were impactful. Dr. Suess has always been a long time favorite but Margery Williams, (The Veleteen Rabbit) and of course Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) are authors I will always look up to.
Did you love to read as a child? And what kind of advice do you have for parents to encourage their children to become avid readers?
I loved reading and being read to as a child. Before bedtime my parents would read with us often, many times taking on the animated characters themselves adding voices and gestures that associated fond memories and positive experiences with storytime. This had a lasting effect and I love reading to this day.
What’s the best thing about being a children’s book author?
Watching parents and children experience, laugh and react to my books together is incredible and for me one of the best things about being a children’s book author.
When you look around at the current state of kids and reading, what are the biggest challenges or opportunities to address?
I think the increasing influence of technology upon younger age groups can be challenging if not utilized properly and in moderation. It does however, open the door to new avenues and teaching tools to explore so I look forward to discovering what’s next.
Do you have any new books that we can look forward to?
I’m always writing and working on new concepts so you never know!
Many thanks to Ashley for sharing her story with us! We always love chatting with our wildly talented authors. If you would like to learn more about Ashley and her books, you can visit her website here.