As an early childhood educator and family coach, I am always on the lookout for quality children’s literature that can help children develop critical social skills, such as confidence and resilience. I sat down this week with Mary Nhin, author of the up and coming Ninja Life Hacks series. With titles such as Anxious Ninja, Angry Ninja, and her new title, Forgetful Ninja, Nhin focuses on developing short, catchy reads with a few action steps that young readers can implement right away. For example, Angry Ninja has readers focusing on the power of deep breaths, counting slowly, and then naming what they are upset about calmly. Forgetful Ninja teaches young readers how to use acronyms, acrostics, and imagery to improve memory. Mary Nhin and I had the following exchange…
Question: Tell us a bit about your process as a writer. How long might it take you to complete a book start to finish?
Mary: From conception of story idea to publishing, it usually takes me several months. Each story goes through several rounds of editing.
Question: Where did your ideas for the Ninja Life Hacks books originate from? What was your inspiration?
Mary: My books are based upon my experiences as a mother of three children.
Question: How do you envision your books being used in classrooms and in homes?
Mary: I hope that my books provide comfort to my readers so that they know the feelings they experience are normal and are felt by other people, too.
Question: Is there a book that you felt particularly challenged by writing? Something you struggle with as an adult? For me, I struggle with anxiety, and while it is challenging to write about those feelings sometimes, it is also therapeutic and serves as a reminder for me to use my coping skills as well.
Mary: I am always challenged to write each story because I’m a recovering perfectionist.. (Hope you don’t mind, Ms. Nhin, but this phrase describes me perfectly…I might borrow “recovering perfectionist”…ha!)
Question: On the other hand, is there one that was particularly enjoyable to write?
Mary: I enjoy stories that are about grit, mental toughness, emotional intelligence, and entrepreneurial skills.
Question: Forgetful Ninja has three concrete steps readers can take to improve memory. Most other Ninja Life Hacks books do as well. What is your process for narrowing down the wealth of advice out there to a few, easy to implement steps for young readers?
Mary: Nice catch. I try to simplify and implement practical and memorable strategies for my readers.
Question: What piece of advice would you give parents when sharing these books with children? Or just about tending to their child’s emotional needs in general?
Mary: I would say you’re doing a great job as a parent by providing and empowering your children with the resources. Now, sit back and allow them to fail forward.
Question: What can we look forward to in terms of projects in the future?
Mary: I just signed with a merchandising agent so I believe we have merchandise in our near future.
With over a million books sold internationally, Mary Nhin is definitely an author to watch. Parents and children alike will find her fun and relatable, and the teacher and coach in me loves the concrete and easy to implement action steps. Fun fact, she is also an Oklahoma girl like me! For more on her social emotional stories and her mission in general, visit http://ninjalifehacks.tv