I’ve just finished writing, designing and narrating a new kind of children’s picture book. Why a book about happiness for 3-5 year-olds? Quite simply ‘Stay Happy’ is the book I wish I’d had when I was that age.
Back in 2007 Caroline and I launched Moodscope. As many know, it began when a psychiatrist asked me to record my mood to help diagnose my depression and mood swings. The deck of mood cards I made to help me do so became Moodscope. Tracking my mood and sharing my progress with a friend helped me enormously, as it has also helped many thousands of others.
Since my mum’s death 18 months ago, I’ve reflected back on my early life. Of course I didn’t track my mood back then, but there are scrap books, photos and ciné films. So what do they reveal? Even in those days I was a ‘maker,’ always building something, or writing and printing magazines. But I think I was quite earnest, quite serious. In fact the one thing I seemed unable to ‘make’ was my own happiness.
Years later I now understand just how malleable my young mind (yours too) would have been back then. Brains change relatively slowly when you’re older, but in the first few years of life they develop breathtakingly fast. It’s a bit like loading software into a computer or phone. The behaviours and procedures that go in when the device or brain is new govern how it works pretty much forever. Our earliest experiences shape who we go on to be.
Our work on Moodscope, then my research when I wrote my book ‘Nudge Your Way to Happiness’ showed me that small, uncomplicated activities can have a BIG impact on your emotional wellbeing.
So I set out to collect happiness tips together in a picture book for young children. With my old advertising creative skills I turned the advice into fun rhymes, then AI was unbelievably good at helping me convert my ideas for images of young animals into delightful, engaging illustrations.
Finally, in what may be a first for a children’s book, I combined my Silicon Valley tech skills with recent experience at Stanford University’s radio station KZSU to produce an interactive soundtrack for the book. Narration, music and sound effects play when you scan the QR code on the cover, bringing the book to life. Parents can therefore breathe a sigh of relief when kids want the book read to them over and over again.
Our expert psychologist friend Dr. Glenn Wilson describes ‘Stay Happy’ as ‘Innovative and psychologically sound.’ Mark Williamson of Action for Happiness said, ‘I’d love to have had this for my kids when they were younger!’
‘Stay Happy’ is available now from Amazon, and for the next two weeks I’ll donate £1/$1 for each copy sold (depending on where you order from) directly to Moodscope.
Please take a look at the book, and consider giving it to the young kids in your life. Help them get the fantastic start in life many of us missed out on.