A New Kind of Interactive Storytelling for ADHD Kids
Today I am having a discussion with Angie Butler and Ginny Heenan, the founders of eBI Press. They have a new strategy serving neurodiverse children and their caregivers, and their first book was published in July called The Adventures of Captain Waffello: Toasty’s Revenge available now on Amazon US and Amazon Canada
Can you tell us about your strategy and vision for eBI Press?
Ginny: Absolutely, Rick! We noticed people talking about neurodiversity and building more and more awareness about the topic thanks to people like yourself offering observations, resources, and studies over the years. We want to both represent and serve this (rather large) population.
Angie: Our hope is to publish books that are not just fun to read, but also help people see the positive in being atypical. My son was diagnosed with ADHD 6 years ago, and I know from experience there are lots of ups and downs, and sometimes we all need a little help staying positive.
Ginny: Yes, we want to show ADHD in a positive way without it being about ADHD. It’s implied in the book that the hero has ADHD/ADD, but it isn’t the focus.
Angie: We believe it is important for people – both adults and children – to see representations of themselves in the world. We hear a lot of negative talk about ADHD, but we are now starting to see more positive representations and messages, such as this viral video about neurodiversity.
Ginny: Rick, you shared how you harbored negative beliefs about yourself until you were diagnosed in your 5 Beliefs blog post—and how relieved you were once you found out. We hope to instill positive beliefs about what it means to have ADHD, and we’re using children’s books as our vehicle.
How is this book different than any other children’s book?
Ginny: We hired a clinical psychologist to help us figure out what kinds of interactivity we could use in the book to help neurodiverse kids stay engaged. In order to help this population, we had to design for them specifically.
Angie: One of the most innovative techniques in the book is called “Action Fingers” where readers are encouraged to use their fingers to “walk” through parts of the book. This was Aiden’s (the author’s) idea. It’s one of the ways he used to keep himself involved with story time when he was younger – he acted out parts of the book using his fingers as an action figure.
He also talks directly to the readers in the book, calling them “Action Kid” and asks them to help Captain Waffello save the day. So, kids get to be part of the story and even be a hero themselves.
Examples of unique interactivity designed to engage kid’s bodies and minds in the story
Ginny: Oh yeah, and the author is an 11-year-old boy with ADHD.
Wait, the author has ADHD and is 11 years old?
Ginny: Yes. It wasn’t part of our original strategy, but it has turned out to be pretty inspirational for us and our readers. We are hearing how encouraged and motivated some kids (and adults!) are by seeing an 11-year-old kid overcome his challenges. He’s setting an example by showing the world that his ADHD/ADD diagnosis doesn’t hold him back.
Angie: Definitely, and he’s showing them that there’s a positive side to ADHD, as well. Aiden says he feels like ADHD gives him millions of ideas. In the back of the book we tell the story of how he was able to write this book. We thought it would be inspirational for parents and children. If Aiden can do it, then so can you.
Ginny: Except Aiden is pretty funny. Some people aren’t as funny as he is.
Angie: I mean “buttnanas” and “bananarangs” are hilarious! And a waffle superhero with a sidekick named Sir Rup? This kid has a great sense of humor.
Is there anything else we should know?
Ginny: Well, anyone can get a free audiobook version of the book on Aiden’s author website here. It’s a fully produced version with character voices and sound effects. Kids who are auditory learners or just like silly sound effects might enjoy it in combination with the book, and again it’s totally free.
Angie: There are more books under development, so please look for more Captain Waffello books in the near future.
So now you can get a new kind of story designed especially for kids with ADHD/ADD written BY a child with ADHD/ADD—targeted for children 5 to 8 years old. The Adventures of Captain Waffello: Toasty’s Revenge on Amazon.com.
Angie Butler is Co-Founder & President of eBI Press
Ginny Heenan is Co-Founder & CEO of eBI Press
eBI Press is an imprint of eBI Performance Solutions. Angie & Ginny own and operate a professional instructional design organization and are applying their instructional expertise to children’s books to represent and serve neurodiverse audiences.
Note from Rick
I love this book, especially knowing it was created by young Aiden Dennis who has ADHD.