Interview with Champ Thornton, author of The Radical Book for Kids

Here’s a fun and informative look inside the mind of the author and the process behind our lately reviewed book, The Radical Book for Kids.

About your book

What is your background, and what prompted you to pursue this particular idea, The Radical Book for Kids?
rbk-cover
I grew up in a Christian family, with parents who taught us God’s Word and took us to church faithfully. I’m the oldest of four children, the only brother among three sisters—and we all remain great friends. My wife and I met in college, and have now been married 20 years. Our three kids are presently between the ages of 7 and 11; so our house is full of energy and silliness.

With my three children in mind, I wanted to write an introduction to Christianity for them—and for others. A quick search on Amazon.com will yield various books promoting: “everything a boy/girl should know or do.” Yet all of them are secular in content and approach. The Radical Book for Kids is different; it’s what I wanted my own children to know about God our Savior, the Word He has written, and the world He has created.

What has been the most memorable response to your book?
Other than a few memorable, scathing reviews on Amazon by people who (to me, at least) seem to have not even read the book, the most memorable responses have come in the form of pictures. I’ve been sent images of a child sitting on a couch, reading The Radical Book for Kids. I’ve also seen a shot of a family gathered together using the book in their family devotional time. These pics, and other accounts of how kids and families are benefiting from the book, stand out as the most memorable (and encouraging) responses.

Do you have plans to write other books at this time?
I’m currently putting the final touches on a devotional book (for parents) on the book of Proverbs. The aim is to help moms and dads study through Proverbs with pen in hand, so they can make notes, answer study questions, and record personal observations and life experiences—all before giving the book as a gift to one of their children as a keepsake, a legacy of wisdom.

What do you think is the best way for families to utilize this book?
This is a book that kids, ages 8 and up, can read on their own. For curious readers, a table of contents and index make topics easy to find. So kids can explore their book however they like: hopscotching around via topic or just reading straight through. For kids of younger ages, parents can also read this book aloud in family devotions. Bible teachers can use it to supplement their main curriculum. For parents or teachers, there are plenty of places to stop reading and to discuss issues posed, consider questions asked or just laugh at something funny. (Also, as the book has been previewed, I’ve learned adults have found this book useful for themselves or to give to others who are growing in their faith.)

I’ve noticed you have a number of “practical” ideas and fun activities that go along with all of the teaching and theology in the book – how did you come up with this idea?
These fun activities came from a variety of sources. The creative team at New Growth Press has provided fantastic collaboration, plus my own kids and life experiences have also been a constant generator of ideas.

How did you find or settle on an illustrator for the book?
The publisher, New Growth Press, knew of Scot McDonald and contacted him to design and illustrate The Radical Book for Kids. He has brought all the fun-factor to the book that we had hoped for, and then some!

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About yourself

Where can readers learn more about you and stay updated on your work?
You can read blog posts and receive email updates through my website.

What is your favorite book/literary genre to read?
I like to read widely—books about different kinds of people, about sports, about history, about science, about language, about writing and creativity, etc. But I probably enjoy mystery novels most, especially when I’m on vacation and wanting a book that’s enjoyable and easy to read.

What was your favorite book as a child?
I loved the Hardy Boys books when I was in middle school, though before that there was a special place in my heart for Dr. Seuss books, and then in later years for Alistair MacLean novels and Sherlock Holmes stories.

What is sitting on your “reading stack” currently?
I’m currently working through a biography of the 17th Century English Poet, George Herbert (Music at Midnight, by John Drury); C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces; and a theology of the apostle Paul’s writings by Thomas Schreiner (Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology).

Coffee or tea?
Coffee

As a creative writing teacher, I have to ask this: Is there a particular place/setting you like to write? What things do you like to have around you to inspire you or help you concentrate as you write?
In my opinion, it’s not so much your setting that contributes to writing, as your schedule—setting aside pre-planned time just for writing. If a person can just write something every day—even 100 words—then they’re miles ahead of someone who just waits of inspiration to strike. You can always go back later and edit what you’ve written. As someone has said, “There’s no such thing as great writing, only great re-writing.”

And in the event of writer’s block, I’ve found that the problem may be more related to lack of information than lack of inspiration. I don’t think that creativity is usually about being struck by some mood-inspired idea. Instead, it seems that creativity comes out of pantries that are well-stocked. For example, if a person wanted to write about, birds. Then he or she might keep a notebook (or use a note-taking app) to record all sorts of thoughts about birds (from their reading, observations, conversations, etc.). Then, when it comes to writing about birds, there are lots of resources from which to draw, lots of connections to make. (And that’s usually what creativity is: not actually coming up with something new, but with connecting old ideas in a new way. So, if you want to be creative, fill your mind with lots of old ideas and think hard about how to connect them in striking ways.)

Do you have an interesting writing quirk?
My editors could tell you more accurately than I can, but I’d guess that I use too many dashes in my writing.

Do you have any recommendations outside of your book for instilling a deep love of the Gospel in children?
There are many terrific resources today for passing along the Good News of God’s Word to the next generation. Here are some I especially recommend.

The Ology by Marty Machowski

The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Pilgrim’s Progress retold (brilliantly!) by Gary D. Schmidt

 

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