Blogs by InnovatorsBox®

Why I Wrote Have You Seen My Friends? And Why You’d Love it Too!

I’ve loved children’s books all my life which is why it’s such a humbling moment for me to say – I’m a new children’s book author! I grew up loving reading for many reasons. Reading is the entry to adventures, new learning, discoveries, imaginations, and escape! I longed to understand more, dream more, and do more after each book. I was curious. I couldn’t wait until I had time to read to learn what happened to those characters. I’d reflect on the lessons the characters learn and wonder what that means for me.

This is why as I grew older my love for children’s books never ended. It only deepened. The more nonfiction and business books I read the more I realized how powerful well-written children’s books were. Miss Rumphius taught me how you could make a difference in other’s lives even by planting a beautiful garden in your neighborhood. You don’t need to be famous or rich to make a difference in other’s lives. The Little House and The Giving Tree taught me how important it is to care for your dear ones already in your life before it’s too late. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore taught me how important it is to celebrate the joy of reading and finding meaning through reading. The Little Prince taught me how a lot of things that are important in life may not always be visible to the eye. 

And I learned many more life lessons while reading beautiful children’s books growing up and as an adult. I’d find myself in children’s books categories in every library and bookstore and longed one day I’d love to write and contribute to this field I love and respect so much.

This is why I’m so thrilled to finally introduce you to my first children’s book Have You Seen My Friends? (Published by HALO Publishing) I hope this will be one of the many I would write. In fact, I already drafted ten stories out of three series and am on the search of finding a literary agent to make this really come further into life. (If you know anyone that I should speak to, please reach out to me!)

One thing I’ve learned from my journey writing my first book, Rethink Creativity: How to Innovate, Inspire, and Thrive at Work, (Published by Publish Your Purpose Press) was how important it is to write what only you can write and in the way that you can write. 

There are so many books on creativity, why me? There are so many children’s books on the topics I cared to write about, why me? I took a step back at the angle and narrative that I felt was missing. Identifying what you want to write wasn’t overnight. It was a search and longing I had all my life. And because I incubated and wondered all my life – I even tried to write a fiction a few years ago. Wrote 40 pages for 6 months and put a pause for now – when an idea came with clarity this summer I knew I was ready to write it down on paper. That’s how I decided to write on these topics that I cared very much about – creativity, diversity, and emotions.

In this blog, I’m excited to invite you behind the scene of the thought process of how I wrote my first book and why I wrote thinking of you. In a way, this feels like a public journal where I share my thoughts out loud in the hope to treasure this very humble moment and celebrating the importance of creativity with you. I’m curious to hear what you enjoy in the book. I hope you’ll love it. I hope it will warm your heart. And I hope to hear your questions on how you find your lost friends along the way because of this book as well.

First, what is this book about?

Have You Seen My Friends? is a celebration of friendships and creativity. As the main character goes on the search of finding its long-lost friends and tries to describe to its younger friends what they are like, we enter the world of imagination and wonderment. During the search, we visit where Creativity, Curiosity, and Courage lives, learn what they might be like, and why they are important friends that we’d want to treasure in our life.  

Why did I write this book? 

I wrote it so that everyone can enjoy treasuring and expressing their creativity no matter how old they are. While my admiration for storytelling, art, and creativity was deep since I was young, growing up I never felt like I was the creative one. I thought being creative was only being an artist or good with music and painting. Since I was not good in either I just thought I was not creative. I did not know being creative was the act of thinking differently and something that we all naturally have. I thought it was a gift for the few and something that I simply did not have. It took me a long time in my journey to realize wait we are all creative but we just did not realize we were or knew how to be more in the way we enjoy. Some of us love expressing our creativity through traditional arts while others may do it in numbers, writing, excel sheets, and charts. 

There are millions of ways to express creativity. I wanted to write this in the hope to inspire both young and old to know how creative they already are and how they can be even more by cherishing the three friends that are already near them their entire life. 

Whenever I share my ‘why’ in my book, the next question my friends ask is how did I think of the narrative of friendship to discuss creativity? Though many write books on creativity to make it accessible I still felt the most famous books were still focused on portraying creativity through arts, music, and crafts. I wanted to challenge how we could reimagine and reframe how we thought of these three values. What if we focused on these values as friends? 

The story of friendship came to me organically as it’s a narrative I’d use to speak about these values for culture and leadership programs at InnovatorsBox® for adults. Even though we put these words on every marketing material many feel they are not creative or don’t know how to be more creative. Yet science shows how everyone is indeed creative and has the potential to do more. We’ve just simply forgotten how to be since many of us have not used or practiced that creative muscle in a while and have received a wrong understanding that creativity is just traditional arts. 

Creativity is a way of living and thinking differently and something that is natural for each of us. It’s what makes us alive and it’s something we could get better at again when we seek it, want it, and hone it. So just like our physical muscles, our creative muscles become stronger the more we exercise. This is why, I found the friendship story extremely helpful to reframe how we relate to these three values. Three friends that were dear to us. If we stopped caring, listening, and paying attention to it, they will feel sad and leave but that does not mean they are completely ever gone. They are just near us somewhere waiting for us to find them again to feel heard and appreciated. 

This is also the very reason why I had some friends and early readers nudging me to consider this scenario – what if this book is too hard for young readers? Creativity, courage, and curiosity is a concept that even as adults we’re still learning and grasping as we learn and unlearn all the wrong notions we’ve built in our lives. Wouldn’t this be too much of theory and a book that youth may enjoy less? It was a very valid question and I sat on that wondering too. 

The truth came to shove – I won’t know until I try.

One aspect I was intrigued by for a while was the power of children’s storytelling without dumbing things down. There is a difference between communicating with care versus overly simplifying and underestimating how much they may be able to digest. So I wanted to try. How would it be like to write about creativity, diversity, and emotions without oversimplifying or complicating? I won’t know until I try. In the meantime, I went back to the lesson I learned from Fred Rogers. Difficult topics can be discussed early on. Don’t avoid it by assuming someone is too young to understand it. 

Yes, I’m a fan of the Mister Roger’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? documentary that came out in 2018 to celebrate the story and impact Fred Rogers had in our youth education and programming. I spent part of my childhood in Fairfax, Virginia, and in Incheon, South Korea so I missed growing up with his programs as a child but appreciated very much now learning how he showed up and what he intended in his program to empower youth early on. Instead of avoiding difficult conversations such as loss, death, conflict, and challenges, Fred Rogers discussed these in a curious and open way for youth to want to learn and be hungry to want to understand. So I got curious, I know there will always be room for growth and I will come back maybe wanting to find more ways to iterate but I did not want to avoid the thought of wanting to empower all about these important themes early on.

Teacher & Parent's guide

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This is why in the Teacher and Parent’s Guide I designed several activities with varied levels of readers age in mind for activities in Reading Comprehension, Critical Thinking, Writing, Speaking, Language, Learning by Doing, Math, and Science. If the readers and kids are ready for something more challenging, there are ways to dive into that! If the readers are ready more to focus on the adventures, then this is a perfect way to celebrate the journey of friendship and the importance of treasuring important friends in your life. In all they could see how they could engage with the book in the way they choose to – fun story, inspiration, pretty pictures, to meaningful life lessons. This book is really for you to bring and decide what value you want to manifest further into!

The celebration of diverse learning is something I value in my journey and the reason why I was developing this book is how I wanted to think about many ways youth and fans could engage in enjoying this book beyond the book! First, certainly, get the book and the audiobook that is out in all bookstores – and if you don’t see one in your library and bookstore, ask them to add this book to their beautiful shelves full of creativity and stories! Second, here are some ways you could enjoy playing in this world with us together. 

Visit our site www.creativitywithmonica.com to experience all the tools and resources we have built for this and all future books that I’m working on for youth. Here are some key resources that I think you’ll love that I enjoyed working on thinking of you!

  • Teacher/Parents Guide and Activities Books
  • Online Word Game (coming soon)
  • Postcards and Posters
  • Origami 
  • And very soon, you will be able to order your merchandise too with these characters!

I’m doing Author Book Visits too and I’d love to visit your school, libraries, and communities! Please fill out this form and share with me more about you and your community. I can’t wait to e-meet you which means I can be anywhere around the world from my home Washington, D.C. to meet you! Hey, internet!

Don’t see something that we should consider, write me a letter here and I’d love to hear from you! We’ll continue to develop more and I can’t wait to hear from you. 

Oh and lastly:

How did I visualize the three characters into these three animals? What if your version looks different?

I love this question. Yes, everyone’s creativity, curiosity, and courage are different so your creativity, curiosity, and courage may look different. This is just one of the many forms they show up and this is one version for me that I wanted to depict. I choose animals as my character because they are so relatable and cute! Ha! But seriously. 

Animal forms of visualization are a powerful way a lot of people could relate as we understand some of its characteristics without needing to explain them to one another. I wanted to celebrate how we could talk about the small Cs and the big Cs. Creativity is not just for the big moments in life, it happens every day in the life. So, for me, that’s like these three friends:

The monkey that is constantly curious, being silly, and asks a lot of questions. 

The owl that is wise, attentive, and actively listening, and not afraid to try new things with courage. 

And the rabbit that is agile, creative, playful, and fast adapter to try new things and make anything possible. 

And yes, if you have read my other book Rethink Creativity, or browse through our site at InnovatorsBox®, you will see them and more of their story too! I loved them so much as I was writing the children’s book that I brought them further into all my creativity worlds and can’t wait to share this space with you too.

If you still haven’t got to book at this point, please do so!! 

I ask not only as a first-time children’s book author going on this new adventure but also in hope that we get to celebrate this message together. A lot of youth literature still lack diversity both in authorship and narration and I hope that more readers young and old seeing also an author who looks like them or thinks like them could inspire them to see themselves in a new way and have the courage to speak up and share their creativity in the world. 

In the end, my hope in writing this with love is simple – I want to help one more reader recognize how creative they are and how their journey to finding limitless is so crucial. Not only will they be happier but this world would be a better place because they choose to be who they uniquely are – a limitless creative being. Be you and be the you, you’d like to be. You are the protagonist in your story. Live it.

This is why, I wrote Have You Seen My Friends? for you. This is why, I can’t wait to hear about your journey. Thank you.

Thank you for reading and your support! If you’d like to support here are a few ways:

And if you have any other comments and messages to share, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

As I wrap up my reflection, I want to highlight a few thank you to a few key people in my journey to writing this book in the past few months. 

  • Illustration: Thank you Khadeeja Qureshi for making this world come to life with your beautiful illustrations! She took my ideas and vision to a whole new degree and I’m so glad we got to work on this together to create this fantasy land of Have You Seen My Friends?
  • Publisher: Thank you HALO Publishing for making my publishing a children’s book come true! Without their help from editing, formatting, and coaching throughout the journey I would have been lost.
  • InnovatorsBox: Thank you Kree Pandey for making all my beautiful sites and all digital assets as we build this land together. Thank you, Sam Lehmert for your insights having worked in the toy industry as well as making this audiobook with my narration come to life. Thank you, Jennifer Hart for your early feedback and copyediting support as I was incubating this idea. Thank you, Lea Orisini for creating these beautiful social media graphics with the illustration we got from Khadeeja. Thank you Sara Lucia Piedrahita for helping me behind the scenes with a lot of the administrative tasks and research of things. And thank you Daniel Osterstock for help editing the visuals into animation and these videos.
  • Friends: Thank you to my friends and family who have been early supporters in this process and were like – you’re finally doing your dream goal! My family and partner who has been supportive and cheering me throughout every moment. Thank you for your love and patience. Thank you, friends for taking the time to share early feedback, and testimonials as I was developing this book! Shoutout to Andrew Ngui, Aquan Grant, Cassandra Lane, Colleen Beres, Dr. Cyndi Burnett, Emily K. Rosado, Jason Williams, Kevin Williams, Marina Ilari, Meg Ugenti, Stephanie Han, Van Lai-DuMone, and others.
I learned a lot and loved every moment of every twist and turn I had at this point. I hope you will as well as you read, reflect, and read the book again. Thank you for your support and thank you for taking your friends, Creativity, Courage, and Curiosity with you. Oh look, they are saying hello back to you too!
 

Have You Seen My Friends?

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About the Author

Picture of Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang, Founder, and CEO of InnovatorsBox® and Author of Rethink Creativity is transforming today’s workforce through the power of creativity. She helps companies rethink culture, leadership, and team development by making creativity practical and relatable regardless of industry or job title. She has worked with clients worldwide including Fortune 500 companies, higher education, government, and nonprofits. Monica’s work has been recognized by The White House, Ashoka Changemakers, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Prior to InnovatorsBox®, Monica was a nuclear nonproliferation policy expert. She holds an M.A. from SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Strategic Studies and International Economics and a B.A. from Boston University.

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