There are two different kinds of books that children tend to read.
There’s the silly stuff, good for a laugh and always entertaining. But then there’s the kind of book that reaches kids on an emotional level and teaches them lessons that stick with them for a lifetime.
Ann Campbell is much more inclined to write with the latter in mind.
“Whether it’s feeling accepted or loved ... some books seem to have more of an imprint on a child’s feelings, I think, than others do,” she said.
The children’s book author will be signing at Coles in LloydMall for the release of her third book, entitled Justa Friend, this Saturday, Oct. 4. The book tells the story of a jacana bird and a turtle who learn values in friendship and inclusion, while also touching upon themes of bullying and the importance of the environment.
This isn’t the first book she’s written, however. The self-published author has written two others, which can be purchased in the Lloydminster Cultural and Science Centre, Lloyd Wine Outfitters, Don’s Auto Interiors, The Country Store, and Verses.
“I was 60 when I did my first one, so, you know, it’s really hard to get picked up by a publishing company nowadays ... the competition is huge,” said Campbell.
That’s part of the reason why she became a self-published author. The cons of that arrangement, however, are that it’s not only expensive, but it’s also difficult to develop a presence outside of Lloydminster. The pros? Campbell has full autonomy over what she does. After all, with the kind of experience she’s had with children, she can’t help but put her expertise to work in her books.
“I taught kindergarten and Grade 1 kids for 23 years. And I always read them stories,” said Campbell. “So, I guess I’ve read hundreds of books to kids and, sort of, you can’t help but get a feel for what they like and what’s meaningful to kids.”
Campbell made her debut as a children’s book author with Justa Bear, which told the story of her father, Jack Kemp’s own teddy bear. It was heavily inspired by her father’s life and tells the true story of the bear, which was found in a dump for Kemp as a boy and would eventually find a home in the school after which he was named in Lloydminster.
“I think the theme behind that one is one of self worth, that we’re always valuable ... that you’re important to others, even though you might not think so,” said Campbell.
With her next book release, she’d take her themes even closer to those in line with boasting children’s values in acceptance, friendship and an appreciation for nature. This book, Just a Party, tells the story of woodland animals of all different kinds getting together for a party in the forest where everyone becomes accepted – even the wolves, among squirrels and rabbits.
“I just think there’s a lot of good messages that, you know, kids can get from reading a good story and something that has a good influence on them,” said Campbell, who writes her books with those principles in mind. She also believes in the value of reading.
“I think there’s so much value in a child being able to read, you know. I mean, obviously, teaching children to read was probably one of my biggest rewards in teaching and I think there’s so much enjoyment and value in reading right through your life.”
As it turns out, Campbell never actually stopped being a teacher, she said.
She’s just on a different side of the books these days.