Doing the Write Thing: Samantha Han
Samantha Han is an undergraduate at the National Institute of Education (NIE), where she's studying to become a teacher. She is also the author of The Womps: Pinto's Pinky Promises, her debut children's book series featuring a fun bunch of four furry friends–Pinto, So-ya, Kofi, and Chick Bee.
While brainstorming for a new book series, Samantha asked herself: How can we instil values and lessons in our young ones while making it enjoyable for them? Here, she spills the beans on how she began her writing journey.
What inspired you to start on this book/series? It started with the idea of trying to make the learning of values fun and accessible for kids. I think a lot of the times we preach the importance of values without thinking about how children may perceive it – do they really understand? Or do we need to engage them more in a discussion about values rather than tell them "this is the moral of the story"? These were some questions that prompted me to start this series!
We think it’s really cute that your characters are all based on different beans! Why did you decide to do that? (Laughs) To be very honest, there isn't any intelligent reasoning behind it. I am a big lover of Mexican food — especially refried pinto beans! So, when coming up with names for my characters, I immediately named the first one "Pinto". Quite naturally, I had to give his friends matching bean-like names. And when I ran it by my friends, they all cracked up at the randomness of it all, so I went with it.
What kind of values/what do you hope to impart to younger readers with this series? More than learning about values itself, I want my readers to know that it's okay if you try to be a better person and find yourself failing at it. It's hard; it happens to the best of us. But as long as you're always putting your best foot forward, that's something worth celebrating. And if they can see a little of themselves stumbling and fumbling along in life in Pinto and his friends - that would mean the world to me!
You’re also currently studying to become a teacher. Has that influenced your decision to start on this book/writing process in any way? In subtle ways, I think! From the start, I knew I wanted my book to be for a younger age group which meant that I had to keep in mind the kind of sentence structures and word choices I was using. But when it came to what the story was actually going to be about, I drew a lot of inspiration from the kind of students I would want to have in the future. Would I want them to be trustworthy? Tenacious? Kind? Answering these questions then made it clear what kind of values I wanted to impart on my readers with my book.
You mentioned that you are a fan of children’s picture books. In what way has your knowledge on these books inspired your writing? This is my first time writing a children's picture book, so I did look to other children's book authors for inspiration. I would say the one thing I learnt from reading lots of picture books is that the best ones are those which stay with you even when you've finished reading them. And of course, those that you can go back to years later and still feel moved by it. That's why Dr. Seuss continues to be a household favourite — his writing stays relevant to you through the years. People often think children's picture books are solely for children, but I’d like to think that the parents who read it aloud to their children have something to take away from the reading experience as well.
Get The Womps: Pinto's Pinky Promises here.