Our colleague, Dr. Noah Charney, a best-selling, Pulitzer-nominated writer, has just begun a Kickstarter campaign that we think might be of interest to you all.
It is a limited edition parenting book plus app called “Superpower Your Kids: A Professor’s Guide to Teaching Your Children Everything in Just 15 Minutes a Day.”
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in New Haven, in the US. I went to an unusual boarding school (Choate) that had abroad programs, and I lived in Paris on a program when I was 16. I fell in love with Europe and decided I wanted to live there long-term. I wound up doing my post-graduate studies in England, lived in many different countries (“auditioning” each as a potential new home–France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, England, Slovenia)…and ended up meeting and marrying a Slovenian. I’ve been living in Slovenia for a decade and love it. I even published a book called “Slovenology: Living and Traveling in the World’s Best Country.” Now I live there, in the Alps, with two daughters, 5 and 7, a wife and a Peruvian Hairless dog named Hubert van Eyck.
What’s the book about?
You would do anything for your kids, right? What if you could do everything for them, in less than 15 minutes a day?
You can. You can give your kids superpowers. These superpowers come through a combination of knowledge and empowerment which is the result of attention from you parents while you play games with your kids. The game happens to be built out of miniature lessons. Lessonlets, let’s call them. You see, I’m a parent of two young girls. I’m also a professor, and the two roles can overlap. My superpower is that I’m a Dad who knows how to teach and to make the act of learning feel easy, painless, even fun. I practice with my kids every day.
The key to Superpower Your Kids in 70 words or fewer? Here it goes:
Teach your kids a single new thing each day through Lesson Games, taking as little as a minute and no more than 15. Then engage in free play with them, doing whatever they want to do, as a reward. The lessons are designed like a loose syllabus and presented with some professorial tricks to make them more fun and to better stick. Playing Lesson Games = Superpowers.
What inspired you to write this parenting book?
As I write this, during the self-isolation period in the spring of 2020, we parents have our children at home full-time. This can feel like a lot to handle, even for the most well-meaning among us. If this time together were voluntary and finite, without the global concerns about the virus, it would be a different story. But now we are forced into a situation. Consider this time with your kids as a gift, a bonus bestowed upon us. And during this time, and of course after it has passed and “normal life” resumes, we can look back on this isolation period with fondness, for the togetherness it cultivated and with a sense that it was both rewarding and productive. This is a time when we have more time to be together, to engage.
Our normal routine is a different story. Our days are packed, the routine drains us, and we feel like our energy is limited. We’d like to do so much more, but where is the time? Parents are already superheroes, balancing making a living with caring for a family, sacrificing so much of themselves in the process. That’s true love: when your family’s happiness and wellbeing are more important to you than your own.
The approach I’ve developed and use with my kids is entirely understanding of the fact that, though parents may be superheroes, we’re generally over-tired superheroes with limited stores of extra energy. We also already have rhythms and approaches to parenting that work for us. So there’s no need to reinvent the wheel and turn things on their heads. That’s not what this is about. This is about a small daily addition, a grace note, something that does not feel like any extra work, a minimal effort that produces a maximum reward. You’ll feel great, more productive and effective as a parent, and you’ll be gifting your children superpowers. Worth a try, right?
Even on a busy day, any of us can find 15 minutes or less—sometimes much less—to be fully engaged with our kids, to teach and empower them. This book will show you how I’ve done it, and hopefully inspire you to either do the same or invent your own, personalized variation. There is no one right way to approach this. No one knows how to raise your kids better than you do. Consider this a set of ideas and inspirations for you to try out, riff off of, or make your own. I wanted to publish this quickly and Kickstarter seemed the most direct way.
Who’s the ideal audience?
My audience is proactive, caring parents of children roughly age 3-12. Parents who are interested in helping their kids develop beyond whatever they do in school.
Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?
We played with lots of ideas, but ended up with this photo of our daughter, Izabella (age 5) in what feels like a really inspiring, happy pose.
What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?
Well, I’ve got the weirdest profile for the author of a parenting book. I’m a professor of art history specializing in art crime, so my agent would say, “What the heck are you doing writing a parenting book?” But he gave me the greenlight because the publishing world is on pause and sort of anything goes during this odd Corona Time we’re living in. So I’m approaching parenting from a different perspective. As a parent, sure, but the twist is that I’m also a professor.
Who has been the most significant influence on you personally?
When I was growing up, I had a babysitter who was like an extra mother. Her name was Eleanor. She was a plump old Italian lady who helped care for me since I was 3 weeks old. She’s definitely been the biggest influence on me, personally. She was the kindest, most compassionate nad loving person I’ve known. Her values are what I try to live by and teach my kids. My elder daughter, Eleonora, is named after her. My number one priority is for my kids to grow up as kind, good, happy people. Any of the other things they learn, or boxes they check, are great, but only if they are kind, good and happy.
What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?
This book is unusual for me. I’m a best-selling author and Pulitzer nominee and the books I write are usually shopped by my agent to major publishers. But that’s a slow process–even when a book is bought (non-fiction books are bought based on proposals only and you write the book after), it’s usually at least a year before the book comes out. That’s just too slow. I wanted to write and publish this quickly, because while its ideas are not linked to isolation time, they can certainly help now. So I tried to figure out how to get this out there quickly. And Kickstarter seemed like the best way. This campaign is essentially a chance for people to pre-order a limited edition book. There’s no plan at the moment for it to be for sale to anyone but the Kickstarter backers.
What do you consider your greatest success in life?
Honestly? Being able to care for my family. That’s what a real man does, and that’s I think my proudest achievement.
We encourage you to take a look and see if it interests you.
All backers of the campaign who are members of our Facebook group or mailing list will receive an additional special gift, a free bonus eBook (just back the project at any level, and then send a message to the organizers after).