What Makes You Different? Changing Families, Challenging Stories

The face of “family” has been evolving for a generation, yet these changes aren’t widely represented in children’s literature.

So what happens if a parent becomes seriously ill and looks for storybooks to assist in explaining the illness to her children? Wouldn’t she like a book that reflects the reality of her situation?

As a single mother, I can appreciate that family configurations are no longer two parents + kids + fat and sassy pets. And even if there are two adults in the household, the picture may not resemble Norman Rockwell’s depiction of domesticity.

Novacarta.org: Talking to Kids About Cancer, Your Way

It’s rare that a project comes to my attention that I feel strongly about, particularly in my role as a parent. In the case of Novacarta.org, I’d like to tell you about their Kickstarter campaign that is called “A Story Your Way.”

To provide context:

  • Do you know that every year, more than 14 million new cancer cases are diagnosed around the world?
  • Do you know that some 24% of Americans with cancer have dependent children?

In a nutshell, the Novacarta project is this: The ability to create a customized story to help kids through a loved one’s cancer, adaptable for cancer type, treatment plan, and family structure.

And for those who are unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it is a is a crowdfunding platform that helps bring creative projects to life.

You may also watch the video on Youtube here.

Tell the Story of Cancer So Children Can Understand

A Story Your Way” began with one single mom’s experience of dealing with breast cancer. In her search for books to read to her children that might assist, she came up empty on families that resembled hers.

This single mother, a systems professional, teamed up with others in systems as well as multilingual writers and illustrators. Their goal is to create the mechanism for telling a child about illness “your way.”

“A Story Your Way” utilizes a simple interface that will be available on their web page. It is designed to allow individuals to select their gender and status – for example single mother, single father, step-mother  – and the nature of their cancer as well as their treatment. Initially, the person requesting the book will be able to choose among four languages and three illustration styles.

With these inputs, Novacarta will programmatically configure the patient’s story from which the book will be printed. Then it will be sent anywhere in the world to the patient – the first 1,000 books, for free.

Key Points: Families, Cancer, and A Story Your Way

For most parents, our greatest fear is something happening to a child. Our second greatest fear is that we, the parents, won’t be there for them. And let’s remember that a parent’s cancer diagnosis is something that happens to the entire family and not just the adults.

More related points:

  • Cancer treatments are advancing by leaps and bounds, but there is still a lack of resources for parents to help children understand.
  • Available books don’t typically address the changing face of family, thus the need for a more flexible and inclusive solution.
  • Novacarta customizes each book for the specific illness and treatment stage, as well as family status.
  • Novacarta is a non-profit association, formed to produce educational materials aimed at explaining difficult subject matter to children via storytelling.
  • Novacarta’s Kickstarter campaign is provided in English, French, and German.
    The campaign ends May 30, 2014.

What Makes Your Family Different?

I imagine we all think our families are unique in some way, and it would be true. I’ve been giving this some thought, and find myself wondering what makes my little family “different.”

My boys were raised by a single mom, and you could argue that’s increasingly common. But for my children, there were no accessible grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. We were a threesome… along with a sloppy, lovable, overweight mutt. So our family “picture” was the three of us.

What else makes us different?

My sons are the byproduct of North and South, Europe and the US, two religious traditions, and more than two languages. In some respects this abundance proved challenging to me as a parent. In others, I consider my kids extremely fortunate to be raised with this diversity.

I’m curious. What makes your family different? 

Please Visit Kickstarter and Novacarta

Please visit Novacarta’s Kickstarter campaign where video and text explain their project far more eloquently than I could – in French and German, as well as English.

Please contribute if you can. And spread the word to your friends.

If you like, offer your own “What Makes Us Different” post and I will be happy to promote it. In doing so, feel free to utilize any of the content I’ve included here, and most importantly a link to the Kickstarter campaign or its shortlink (http://kck.st/1fwFXEl), and Novacarta.org.

If you prefer, use any parts of this content to share to your communities, in order to promote this important project.

Future Plans

Novacarta recognizes the need for ethnic diversity in their stories as well as family configuration. This will require additional illustrations beyond the current pilot phase. They look forward to addressing this need in the future.

Note, too, that while the initial goal of this project is to produce traditional books printed on paper, Novacarta plans to take advantage of new reading methods and technologies including e-books, tablets, smart-phone apps and computer animations. They are planning to make books available in these formats in the future, as well as providing interactive versions.

Remember: This campaign, for Kickstarter purposes, ends on May 30. And while the goal amount is stated in pounds, when you make a pledge, Kickstarter’s easy transaction process will automatically convert to your local currency.

Thank you!
Cliquez pour la version franaise.

Please note: I received no compensation for this.  (You know me well enough to know that.)