Tuesday, June 23, 2015


By Ian Jackson

The library is one of our boys' favorite places. While looking over our online library records last week, Angel guessed we may have taken out close to a thousand books over the last year. She was only half joking.

Both our boys love to read - Our 8 year old has a voracious appetite for chapter books full of adventure, and our 4 year old loves snuggling on the couch with us and reading through picture books about trains, diggers, monkeys or tiggers (when this happens, our older son tends to quietly put his book down and join in with the snuggling). And our 4-month-old, is usually wherever Mommy is :)

A few days ago, the boys and I started the day by reading a book that our 4 year old had chosen at the library. It was about a young boy being pushed around in his stroller by his mother, looking at a local construction site, and commenting on all the amazing construction equipment he sees.

While reading the page where he sees a steamroller, I accidentally called it a streamstroller and we all giggled. How silly! And then we started joking about what a steamstroller might look like, and what it would be like to ride around in one.

Then Mommy and baby girl joined us, and when she heard us talking about the streamstroller, Angel instantly said "We should write a book about it!"

So we guessed at what a steamstroller would look like - more like a stoller? More like a steamroller? Like a steam-punk stroller? Our 8 year old drew some versions of it. Mommy drew some versions of it. I drew some versions of it. Our 4 year old added his own ideas - he knew that a steamstroller would have to have a snack tray, which may or may not have a drink of "purple juice."

Then we got thinking about what might happen when riding around in a streamstroller. Maybe it would go straight. Maybe it would go up steep hills. Maybe it would stop.

And with that, we started to brainstorm how many words start with "st": steam, stroller, strawberries, steer, straight, stairs, stop... And suddenly, the boy riding in the steamstroller became known as Steven.

So we came up with a bunch of individual pages, and then, while our 8 year old got back into his book and the 4 year old played with trains, I laid out a page-by-page plan for the book.

Then we got into thinking about the art for such a book. Like Winnie the Pooh says about his spelling - "It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places” - our art is good art, but the pen doesn't always go where we want it to. So then we got thinking about how we would go about getting art that is more publishable for the story.

So that got us into researching some iPad art apps. Which led to us downloading Sketches Pro. Which has led to a lot of fun, and for now, nothing further on the streamstroller project.

Sketches Pro promo picture (not something we made...)
But for a few hours, it was something that we had fun working on together as a family. We'd love to go further with it and get a book finished - I've always wanted to write children's books, and to have one that was really a family creation be published would be super fun. But even if nothing further comes from this, we had fun together and learned together. That to me is at the heart of a Family Learning Adventure.


  1. Love this idea! I also love how learning & exploring ideas can organically fall into some really wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I'm sure we'd love a copy when Steamstroller comes out. Any chance you'll have a book signing?