Some thoughts on this.
The children’s book of my last post is not a project in progress, it’s just a play around. If you want to play, come play with us!
Now that I have started with the topic and my last post on it received such positive feedback, I would like to write a little more about it. Thanks again for the helpful and encouraging feedback!
I’m not an expert on raising children, but I have gained some practical experience like all parents. And read more about it – like all of us. Incidentally, I remembered an interview I heard many years ago with the great Swiss children’s book author and educator Urs Widmer. Among other things, the author said on the subject of education: “It is pointless to educate children. They always copy you anyway.”
Tom and Jerry
In my family and spatial environment there are 2 boys, Tom and Jerry (more under extra). Meanwhile, they are three boys. I often played with them and read them stories from their books. But most of the books were, in my opinion, pretty crap. Comics, motley cheap stuff. Then when we went up to my place – they love my apartment because there is so much weird stuff to see – it was time to read stories, but “the real stuff”. Good old quality. And I noticed how they developed a lot more imagination with these books.
My general take on this is that young children generally make beautiful drawings. This is a pure abstraction – like the one below. Many important artists, such as Picasso, have repeatedly pointed this out. Then they come to school and suddenly they often end up with meaningless standard drawings. Because the others draw like that, because of the teacher….
While we continue to develop rapidly in other areas (reading, writing, arithmetic), “imagination training” falls by the wayside, we all know it. Some people then never manage to dig up their buried fantasy world again.
Of course, there are several approaches to a project like this book. Since I would also like to include the area of learning , the following variant in the structure of the book would be a possible way, I think.
Start with classic standard
At the beginning of the book, there are some stories with semi-abstract illustrations. Quite simple stories, but they should stimulate the imagination and gradually lead to abstract vision. For example, a story like that of “Old Mr. Wang and his funny little dragon friend“. Among other things, dragon Fluffy loves to play funny pranks on Mr. Wang. Wang often pretends then to be outraged, but only to make Fluffy happy. He wouldn’t want to be without this lovable, lively fellow, who can’t sit still for 5 minutes, a single day.
Since I can’t write myself, I asked my friend AI to make me a story about it. That’s what came out of it after feeding it with the basics. 
Toward the end of the book, there would be a few illustrations then without a story. The little bookworms should think up a story about it themselves. Like the one with “The little girl who loves dogs more than anything and wishes for Christmas that she could be a puppy herself”.
The book’s middle part is all about discovering: “What I see – what do you see?” For example, finding excerpts that represent something concrete, or tangible. If the little readers already can count: “How many fish do you see?” Not that easy. And there are usually more fish on it than we see at first. It doesn’t matter if it’s “really” a fish. But I guess that’s clear anyway. “I can see 4 faces, how many do you see?” “Which animals in the picture do not belong in the sea?”
Here, too, the spectrum should be from rather easy, semi-abstract, at the beginning to more difficult towards the end.
I’ve seen quite a lot of children’s books, but in almost all of them the illustrations are two-dimensional, often just outlines and filled in with colour. I wouldn’t want to deprive the children of the third dimension in my book.
To show a possible spectrum of levels of abstraction, I have selected a few snippets for the sake of simplicity. (Since I’m already halfway to the sea with the fish, I chose excerpts from this planned diving project.)
As I said, the whole thing is just a mind game. My attitude so far can best be explained with an ancient Chinese story. In a nutshell, the story goes like this: A man spent all his life trying to become perfect at dragon fighting and developed amazing skills of which he was very proud. – But, alas, there are no dragons.
And whether there is a market for abstract children’s books is a question that I would rather answer with NO.  The acid test would come at the moment when the pictures are actually shown to children. I’m afraid of that anyway because children can be the harshest critics.
So nobody should mentally put the book on the gift list for next Christmas.
This time I dedicate the post to the two lovely little rascals whose western names are Tom and Jerry and who brought a lot of joy into my life.
 Children always “learn” when they discover something new. But I don’t have anything in mind in the way of a textbook. Rather, it should be a natural immersion in the world of the abstract, combined with meaningful things like counting or inventing stories.
 Of course, I would never let ChatGPT or other AI programs write the stories. I’m sure I’ll find someone who can. For fun, I fed ChatGPT with the outlines story and this is what happened:
Old Mr. Wang was lonely and felt something was missing in his life. One day he found instructions on how to tame a dragon in an old book. He decided to give it a try and after many weeks of hard work, he finally succeeded. He now had a cute little dragon friend named Fluffy.
Fluffy was a delight for Mr. Wang. Always full of energy and joy, he loved keeping his new friend on his toes. Fluffy loved to play funny pranks on Mr. Wang and tease him out of his reserve. Mr. Wang often pretended to be outraged, but he only did so so as not to spoil Fluffy’s fun.
One day, Mr. Wang decided to take Fluffy for a walk. The little dragon flew in front of him, doing acrobatic feats in the air. Suddenly, Fluffy pirouetted and landed right on Mr. Wang’s hat. The hat fell on his face and Mr. Wang laughed. Fluffy had managed to put a smile on his face again.
Despite his pranks, Mr. Wang loved Fluffy with all his heart. He couldn’t imagine life without this lovable, lively fellow who couldn’t sit still for five minutes. Because Fluffy made Mr. Wang feel like he had come alive again.
 Even if I assume that there are children who might like such a book, it is usually the parents, uncles, and aunts who buy books for the little ones. And I have legitimate concerns about that. In addition, as an Austrian I would write the book in German, so for the German-speaking area. This is much smaller than the English-speaking and above all more conservative. Last but not least, I would have to review the project with experts in child psychology and education, an idea I dread.
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