CYNTHIA JABAR / Children's Content Collaborator & Storyteller. Picture book author & illustrator. Character designer for games, paper goods & toys. #GirlPower Editor & relentless Web Literacy Mentor living in NYC. Available for cookie testing, illustration hoopla, design & maker collaborations with kids. Welcome to my messy storytelling notebook. I dig teachers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Drawing, Doodling & Writing On Paper Builds Creative Thinking Skills

All kinds of makers & children instinctively know this to be true: there is something satisfying about putting pen to paper and making marks.
Drawing, doodling and writing can be a joyful meditative exercise in letting the mind roam. A way to be mindful and slow down. Connect. It's also a cornerstone to what John Debes termed in 1969 as visual literacy, an important 21st century skill kids need.

Therefore I wasn't surprised when I read this article about how "in a digital chapter, paper notebooks are as relevant as ever."A few interesting facts I discovered:
"The Italian company that makes Moleskines — all 500 versions — is red hot, consistently recording double-digit sales growth. Oddly enough, the analog company's success has grown in tandem with the digital revolution. In fact, when conducting market research, the company detected something even more perplexing: a direct correlation between sales of its little black notebooks and proximity to an Apple store."
 In a recent study:
"The students who used paper scored significantly higher than those who used laptops. Mueller attributes this unexpected finding — published in the journal, Psychological Science — to the fact that the "analog" note takers were forced to synthesize rather than merely transcribe. It's a phenomenon known as "desirable difficulty."
"Desirable difficulty is some small roadblock that is in your path that actually improves your understanding of a topic."
Drawing actually builds creative design thinking skills we need to solve the world's problems. Just ask a working artist, architect, designer or engineer how important drawing is to their work.

But the great thing about drawing is you don't have to be  professional to enjoy it! A box of crayons and sheet of paper will do the trick. I recently read the smell of crayons can reduce stress.  I haven't see any science to back it up, but I don't think it really matters to my niece.

How has drawing made your life richer?


Here's a link to the paper: The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard by Pam A Mueller & Daniel M. Oppenheimer.
The Big Draw, The World's Biggest Drawing Festival, UK (RAD!)
Draw Yourself Happy: Drawing, Creativity + Your Brain
This is Your Brain On Writing, The New York Times 
Artistic Creativity & The Brain, Essays On Science & Society
How Arts Develop The Young Brain

I hope you enjoyed my notes.
Join me on twitter: @cynthiajabar

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mary Oliver On Writing Poetry & Listening To The World

A wonderfully inspiring interview.
"What is is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life. - Mary Oliver

"Often quoted, but rarely interviewed, Mary Oliver is one of our greatest and most beloved poets. At 79, she honors us with an intimate conversation on the wisdom of the world, the salvation of poetry, and the life behind her writing." - On Being with Krista Tippett

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
-Mary Oliver

Dream Work

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Amy Jo Kim: The Co-op Revolution, 5 Tips For Designing Collaboration

With a background in neuroscience, computer science & psychology, Amy Jo Kim, part game designer part web community architect, shares her experience designing for collaboration.
  1. Compete with the System
  2.  Shared Resource, Outcomes & Goals
  3. Inter - dependent Roles
  4. Cooperative Social Gestures
  5. Non-Zero Stats & Spotlights
She sees designing for collaboration as an emerging trend & "relevant to anyone designing digital experiences of any kind."
MFW15 - Amy Jo Kim from iMMovator on Vimeo.

Disruption and user generated content #UGC is everywhere - she brings up some great questions & considerations we can ask ourselves before creating experiences for people formerly known as the audience- no matter what industry we work in.

Thanks for reading my notebook. Say hello twitter: @cynthiajabar

Monday, August 4, 2014


Maine Lake jump with nieces & nephews. ; )
 I hope you're enjoying your summer! Be back late August with my #MakerParty hoopla!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Digital Moms + Brands, Do They Still Rule?

Kidscreen Magazine: iKids Winter 2014, Volume 3 issue 1
Looks like a yes. According to BSM Media they spent $2.25 trillion in 2013. Social Moms ages 18 to 49 spend 43% more on health & beauty, 61% more on apparel, 82% more on toys & games and 96% more on food & beverage.
You can read the whole article here on the iKids magazine produced by Kidscreen. Go MOMS!

Marketing To Moms Online: Digital Habits & Behaviors
Study Reveals Technology Habits of Moms, BSM Media
Marketing To Moms Coalition

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Streamschool: Poetry + Animation

Poem & Illustration by Rosie, age 6
April is National Poetry Month. We don't get enough poetry in our lives do we?  I know I don't. Reading & writing poetry together with kids help build  creative thinking & literacy skills. In The Atlantic article entitled Why Teaching Poetry Is So Important, Andrew Simmons writes,
"poetry enables teachers to teach their students how to write, read, and understand any text. Poetry can give students a healthy outlet for surging emotions. Reading original poetry aloud in class can foster trust and empathy in the classroom community, while also emphasizing speaking and listening skills that are often neglected in high school literature classes."
Today I was delighted to stumble upon a lovely animated Hungarian poem called Zsolt Miklya. Artist Peter Vacz created a visual interpretation of the poem Streamschool by layering character animation over stop motion backgrounds. The artist writes about his creative process here.

Streamschool (Patakiskola) from Péter Vácz on Vimeo.

Poetry + animation.  Something we will no doubt be seeing more of as different kinds of digital books for kids emerge. What do you think?


30 Ways To Celebrate Poetry Month
The Poetry Foundation
Digital Poetry Interfaces by Jason Nelson 
Poetry Beyond Text  
Building Literacy Skills With Poetry

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ebooks & Kids: Notes From #LaunchKids & Digital Book World 2014

My number one mind blowing take away from #LaunchKids, Digital Book World 2014:

"67% of U.S. children aged 2-13 are now reading digitally. That's up 54% from last year according to PlayCollective & Digital Book World."

Graphic: Digital Book World

Graphic: Digital Book World

Related Articles

What Social Media & Marketing Tools Are Publishers Using SuccessfullyDigital Book World

What Is A Digital Book Worth?
Carisa Kluver, The Digital media Diet

Digital Engagement Is key Say Children's & Young Adult Publishers
"Dominque Raccah, CEO of Sourcebooks, agrees. The Naperville, Ill.-based publisher’s “Put Me In The Story” program met with tremendous success since launching in November 2012, enjoying a 100% increase on its revenue goal last year.
But Raccah said the more significant statistic is the 85% of customers surveyed who intend to come back. “That’s when I knew we had a business,” she said.
Raccah attributes that to a fully integrated digital ecosystem. Some 40% of significant user interactions with “Put Me In the Story” products are app-based, and key app titles are driving conversion of print."
Teens Don't Read For Fun Anymore
Digital Book World

10 Things You May Not Know About Ebook Pricing
Techcrunch, Rachel Willmer @rwillmer

Shifting Family Dynamics Give Kids More Media Purchase Decisions
Digital Book World

Amazing Apple Stats & Facts
iPad Facts quoted during #LaunchKids by Rick Richter @RickatRuckus

New Study: Number Of Kids Reading Ebooks Has Doubled Since 2010
Press Release, Scholastic

Kimberly Lew, Publishing Trends @publishingtrend


From: Stacey Matthias Co-CEO, Insight Strategy Group

Kids Books Online & Off: Changing behavior In The Digital World by Jonathan Nowell, President, Nielsen Book & Jo Henry, Director, Nielsen Book Research

From Page Flip to Screen Swipe: 10 Keys to Ebooks & Learning by Jeremy Greenfield

Let's Be Friends: Being A Social Writer & How Publishers Can Help Authors Connect With Readers (good platform building information)


Moving To Mobile: Developing A Key Strategy For Children's Publishing by Kristen McLean, Bookigee

The State Of The Art for Illustrated eBooks by Ron Martinez (Publishers launch 2013)

In The Niches: market Verticals Reap The Rewards Of Scale by David Nassbaum, @dnussbaum (Publishers Launch May 2013)

Enjoy the read! If you have links to interesting posts, please let me know.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Let's Do This: Inspiring Kids To Tell Stories & Code

2013 appeared to be a tipping point for the importance of teaching kids to code. Robot Turtles became the most highly funded board game on KICKSTARTER. Edutopia listed 7 Apps For Teaching Children Coding Skills. Fast Company & Wired and others wrote about the Google & Apple alums who created the "adorable robots" that teach kids to code. Computer Science Education Week's HOUR OF CODE initiative was backed by President Obama:
"Don't just play a video game, make one." 
22,470,816 people participated. 737,999,347 lines of code were written by students.
So why is this important to the publishing industry? Metadata, ebooks & user generated content.
By 2020 computer related employment is expected to rise by 22%. Some of those jobs will be in publishing. Publishing needs digital storytellers & editors. The world needs stories.
“Thus I rediscovered what writers have always known (and have told us again and again): books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told.” ― Umberto EcoPostscript to the Name of the Rose
In order to meaningfully participate in an ever increasing digital world, kids need to become creators of content and not just passive consumers. Kids need to be more than data, they need to be able to tell their own stories digitally by learning how to code. They're the future of publishing. Let's inspire them. Let's do this.

You can download this doodle page here: CynthiaJabarKids.com. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Poem: The Quilts From Gee's Bend By Alison Luterman

The Quilts of Gee's Bend, Minnie Sue Coleman, Pig In A Pen Medallion
The Quilts from Gees Bend, Alabama

Women who owned no shoes,
whose feet were hard as packed earth,
whose throats were open
flowers through which gospel poured,
made these praise-songs
of cotton, these shouts of necessary
color. In their work-
stiffened hands, the threaded needle,
shared scissors.
Here are the scraps
of a husband,
his stained overalls, scorch
mark of denim punctuating the mute
expanse of fabric. Witness. Ripped
paisley tablecloth, shred of red scarf,
bleached fertilizer sacks.
Beautys hours stolen
away from chopping and hoeing,
the cleaver, the bucket, and the well.
I like to hang my quilts all on a line
outside, and stand back till I see them wave
like flags from a long ways off,
a woman says, who learned
from her mother (who had sixteen
children, and not a shoe
between them)
that if there was to be grace
in this life, she would have
to make it herself,
and that she could
and that it would live on.
-Alison Luterman
Winner of the Writers Digest 2007 poetry prize

Find Alison Luterman's website here.

 About The Quilts Of Gee's Bend

NPR: The Quilts Of Gee's Bend: A Showcase Of  Distinctive Work By African-American Artists

THE QUILTS OF GEE'S BEND from Souls Grown Deep Foundation on Vimeo.

I'll be posting a poem every Sunday. Enjoy the read. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Emma Coats Tweets Pixar's 22 Rules Of Storytelling + Pixar Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Toy Story, WaLL-E) Reveals His Secret Story Sauce

Emma Coats formerly of Pixar tweeted these 22 rules for great storytelling last year from her twitter account @lawnrocket. They apply to any story but I think they have special significance for picture book artists. The best picture books are masterfully edited scenes. You can find her storyboarding nuggets here on her tumblr Story Shots.
1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
2. Keep in mind what's interesting to you as an audience, not what's fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
3. Trying for theme is important, but you won't see what the story is actually about until you're at the end of it. Now rewrite.
4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You'll feel like you're losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
6 . What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
7 . Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
8. Finish your story, let go even if it's not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
9 . When you're stuck, make a list of what wouldn't happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you've got to recognize it before you can use it.
11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you'll never share it with anyone.
12. Discount the first thing that comes to mind—and the second, third, fourth and fifth. Get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it's poison to the audience.
14. Why must you tell this story? What's the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That's the heart of it.
15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don't succeed? Stack the odds against.
17. No work is ever wasted. If it's not working, let go and move on. It'll come back around to be useful later.
18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best and fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
20. Exercise: Take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How do you rearrange them into what you do like?
21. You must identify with your situation and/or characters; you can't just write "cool." What would make you act that way?
22. What's the essence of your story? The most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
Bambi, 1942 film produced by Walt Disney
Pixar Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Toy Story, WaLL-E) shares his ideas about what makes a great story in his TEDTalk. He remembers his mother taking him to see Bambi as a child and how the film envoked in him the most important ingredient a story should have: wonder, the secret sauce.


TWITTER: Emma Coats, @lawnrocket
TUMBLR: Emma Coats Story Shots
TWITTER: @AndrewStanton

Enjoy the read. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pinterest Dominating Publisher Referral Traffic

Shareaholic released a Social Media Traffic Report based on 200,000 publishers over 13 months.
What they found might surprise you.
"Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are dominating. These three social media power players collectively accounted for 15.22% of overall traffic last month. Given their community and share-friendly nature, it’s no surprise that they top the list in traffic referrals and have grown more than 54% each in share of overall visits. Facebook grew 58.81%, Pinterest by 66.52% and Twitter 54.12%. Pinterest’s growth is especially interesting now that the company is flirting with paid advertising."

Find Shareholic on twitter: @Shareaholic.

Pinterest & Publishers
Pinterest Driving Discoverability: Are Publishers On Board?