Karen Silver entertains and educates with her Newfoundland centered children’s series, Come On We Goes
When avid writer and journalist Karen Silver decided to write a children’s book, she knew she wanted to do something different. Not the carbon copied, parodied Doctor Seuss knockoff or paint-by-numbers toddler 10 pager, but something that educates as well as it entertains, and something that pays particular homage to her home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Entertain & Educate KIDS
“I noticed that a lot of books aimed at children have no content,” Silver begins. “I understand that they’re meant to help learn language and for a very early understanding of the vocabulary, but I still think that you can entertain and educate children at the same time, especially about their heritage, culture, history, things that are not as possible in mainstream media. Every once and awhile you will, but you’re not going to learn about Newfoundland history and culture by just turning on cable television as easily as you could learning about the culture of New York or California. It’s not as prominent in mainstream media.”
Her debut collection of children’s stories, lovingly and fittingly titled Come On We Goes, is a locally set journey that educates youngsters on everything from local geography to weather.
“The first story is called Around the What? and it’s about how the St. John’s street systems are not planned out on the city grid like most big cities in North America,” Silver shares. “When people would say I’m going for a walk around the block, around here it’s kind of arbitrary because it would mean they were just going for a walk and ending up back at their house. In the States it’s a measurable distance. You could say you were going six blocks this way and it’s a precise measurement and that never made any sense to me at all until I had to discover on my own that we’re just not planned out the same way.
“The second story is called The Great Foggy Day and it’s kind of about how spring doesn’t really exist in Newfoundland. I remember being in Toronto in April and it was like oh wow, this is what Spring is. It’s not going to snow tomorrow? It was this revelation that in other places spring actually acts like it does on television.”
With illustrations from local artists Dayna Harrigan and Shan Pomeroy, characters inspired by beloved family members, and with help from Arts NL, Come On We Goes is a potential series kickoff that is deeply rooted in this place and its unique culture. Silver, a longtime Newfoundland native, wanted to spotlight her home in an informative yet easy to grasp way that would give the island the just due it so often lacks.
‘a kid in Newfoundland’
“I’m a writer and I’ve been writing my whole life, predominantly focused on journalism and copy writing. The stories were inspired by my own experiences growing up as a kid in Newfoundland. The media and the pop culture, most of it comes from the mainland and the United States and stuff like that, so you’re kind of given this prescribed version of what the world is,” Silver explains. “When you live in Newfoundland sometimes things are different.”
Silver hopes that the first two stories in Come On We Goes will spawn a continued series, one that will focus on more of Newfoundland’s culture, heritage and curiosities. And while she hopes that the book will have a wide enough reach to ensure kids across the globe will get a taste of Newfoundland and Labrador, she is an avid promoter of immersing oneself in as many cultures as possible.
“It’s the same for kids in Newfoundland and kids everywhere throughout the world. It’s always important to learn about other cultures, and I encourage kids in my life to learn of cultures not found in Newfoundland, especially not found in Newfoundland. You’re exposed to what’s around you but there’s so much more out there.
“I’ve noticed, working with kids, that a lot of these kids are very curious and open minded and they want to learn and know as much as they possibly can,” she adds. “The content of a lot of children’s books are not aimed at curious-minded kids who want to know how the world works and who they are and where they come from and are just set to learn.”
Come On We Goes is available now at select local retailers. For more on Silver and the collection visit comeonwegoes.com