Talking to kids about sharing
This interview is from A Kids Book About: The Podcast, with host Matthew Winner and author of A Little Book About Sharing, Duke Stebbins. It has been lightly edited for clarity.
What does sharing look like?
Sharing can look like so many things from something as simple as maybe sharing some of your dessert with your siblings sitting next to you, to passing someone the ball and a game, to things that can get very complex about sharing.
You can share feelings with people and experiences with people. And it's really just a conversation that's not using words, but the ability to give and take in an empathetic way with others.
I'm so glad that you're joining me on the podcast. It's so fun to be talking to people that I work with and get to talk in this different capacity.
I love that and I love it that in this short time that you and I have known each other only about six months that you have really modeled for me what kindness and sharing looks like. So I know how that makes me feel, which is why I want to ask you, Duke, for you, what can sharing feel like?
Thank you. Just right there, that made me feel really good.
See, you shared something positive. You shared your thoughts, what you thought about me. And that made me feel good. Sometimes though, sharing is not always easy. Say for my first example. You have a really large piece of cake and your little brother's sitting next to you and has a very small piece of cake and that cake is yours and it's going to be delicious, but maybe it's fair to let your little brother have a bite off your cake. And sometimes that's not immediately gratifying because you have less cake.
You know, you talk about sharing cake and I have two kids.
I have a six year old and a 10 year old and the six year old, whenever she shares with a 10 year old, she'll give him just a tiny bite to share. And we've had these conversations about sharing. I wonder if there's ever been times where sharing has been difficult for you or how it felt afterward after maybe you did or did not share?
I don't know if you had any different feelings for not sharing. So, how about a time when, when sharing may have been difficult for you Duke?
Yeah, that's really interesting because there's a lot of different emotions that can get piled into this idea of sharing. I think. There, I don't know.
I can't think off the top of my head of any particular moments where I regretted sharing, I can think of probably a number of times where I regretted not sharing. And the feeling that you feel from that or that I feel is guilt.
Tell me more about that. Why do you feel guilt if you choose not to share sometimes?
Because I will think back at a certain scenario where if I shared, it might've helped someone or made someone feel better. Maybe I, for whatever reason, didn't have the will or the awareness to recognize that and share in the moment; and then I'll think back and think, you know, dang, that would've been a good thing to do.
And that's where the guilt comes from.
Yeah. So I, I wonder what it was like for you to create a book to create a you create lots of books and A Kids Book About, but this is the book that was yours front to back. And also that you made it for our youngest readers. What was that like for you Duke?
It was so interesting. As Matthew alluded to, I am a designer at A Kids Book About, I designed many of the books from the ages five to nine range.
That is my primary part of my job.
As a designer, you're, you're like helping choose the colors and the way that the words look and lots of things, right?
Yeah, everything. We're so involved in the process. Usually from the workshop and talking with the authors all the way to the end and sending it to the printers laying it out.
I love it. So I was really excited about this, but it was a challenge in different ways. It all kind of wraps together. The idea of sharing was hard for me. Let me back-up a step. Initially, I was going to do a book about siblings. I have five brothers and sisters, including a twin brother…
And we're the youngest, the twin brother and I, so I was thinking, okay, I could do a book about siblings, but it's going to be from the youngest sibling’s point of view. And I think that as for, you know, marketing the book and who's actually going to read the book, it's probably gonna be parents reading with the older kids who are welcoming a new kid into their life.
So I just didn't have that angle. And I also felt a little bit weird about sharing because, you know, how am I an expert on sharing? But when you have so many siblings and one of them is a twin, it's more of a lifestyle really.
You have to share and it's the everyday. It's baked into who you are and what you're doing all the time, because you can't escape your twin usually. So what really helped was when I was like, I'm the youngest kid, I don't know how to talk to kids under five. I just have limited experience to be quite honest.
So I called my mom and I talk with my mom multiple times. Like her name could be on the front of this book. I gave her a little shout out on the back, but she was very helpful. She helped me really deconstruct that idea and showed me, listen, I watched you grow up. You are sharing constantly. That was just part of what you did.
So recognizing that really that helped me really understand the concepts of sharing and what is sharing. And what does it mean to you as a human and the other humans around you? That kind of cracked the code for me.
And really give everyone in that reading experience a chance to feel that gift of being together and sharing things together. So I guess on that note, Duke, before we go, I'd love to know if there's a message about sharing that you want to leave with our listeners.
Sharing isn't just giving up something that's yours.
We're all in this together. Therefore it's really about working together and helping each other make the best lives that we can.
It's not just about giving up something that's yours. Giving away something that's yours has ways of coming back that you don't always expect.
Each week on A Kids Book About: The Podcast, we talk about the big things going on in your world with a different author from our A Kids Book About series. Continuing on with our special series of episodes featuring authors and illustrators of our A Little Book About Series, today we have Duke Stebbins, the author and illustrator of A Little Book About Sharing.