So we now had our large building, strong, and solid, ready for furniture and decoration, the things that make the inside of a building beautiful and interesting. In BBL these are the audience-sourced story ideas.
I felt that the target readers would know better about what interested them than I ever possibly could.
So, I spoke to children and teens I encountered and pestered them with questions about their interests, passions, fears, difficult moments, favorite stories, movies, games, and so on. I got others to help me in this quest. The kids were also invited to come up with their own story ideas.
It was interesting that the kids often came up with scary things, like the first day at a new school, a new class, or a new teacher, first dates, and public appearances.
I then made a very long list of topics, story ideas, themes and plot lines. Together with my editor, Judy McDonald, we cut this down to a shortlist of stories and we fitted them into the structure where they best suited the vocabulary and grammar of each level.
The shortlist included a broad range of common childhood and teenage concerns, situations and adventures.
We made sure the story ideas included humor, family drama, social drama, peer pressure issues, moral and ethical dilemmas - lying, cheating, stealing, doing the right thing under pressure to do the opposite - and so on.
In the end, the best idea was probably allowing the end-users to give me their best ideas.
I found this out when my sister, her husband and their two kids came over from Australia to spend two weeks with us in early November. Level 7 arrived fresh from the printers during the time they were in my house.
The two girls, Monique and Angelee, are 11 and 9 years of age, and native English speakers.
I didn’t give them the books, but they were lying around on the dining table and the girls picked them up.
It was very gratifying for me as a writer to see that once they picked up one of the books in the level, they read all of them, with no prompting from me, despite the fact that the level was too low for them, and that they hadn’t yet read any of the earlier levels.
I felt certain then that we had built a solid, fun building, and that those who visited it would have a great time.
It was shortly after this that my niece, Monique, asked me the question that began this article.
I hope I have answered that question for her, and for you, and I hope that Japanese children, teens (and adults) will have an enjoyable and educational visit to the Building Blocks Library.
Building Blocks Library Level 1〜7（既刊）、Level 8〜9（近々刊行）