Sat | Sep 30, 2023

8-year-old author brings bedtime stories to the world

Published:Monday | April 4, 2022 | 12:10 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer
Eight-year-old author Liam Cousins (left), from Vaz Prep, gives four-year-old Ezra Chang a copy of his book during a launch at Devon House in Kingston on Saturday.
Eight-year-old author Liam Cousins (left), from Vaz Prep, gives four-year-old Ezra Chang a copy of his book during a launch at Devon House in Kingston on Saturday.
Young author Liam Cousins poses with mother La-Toya Samuels-Cousins at his book launch on the weekend.
Young author Liam Cousins poses with mother La-Toya Samuels-Cousins at his book launch on the weekend.
Liam Cousins’ children’s book ‘The Adventures of Crocky and Mousey’ all started from the tradition of bedtime stories with his mom.
Liam Cousins’ children’s book ‘The Adventures of Crocky and Mousey’ all started from the tradition of bedtime stories with his mom.
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After becoming bored with his mother, La-Toya Samuels-Cousins, reading him bedtime stories authored by others, eight-year-old Liam Cousins began making up his own tales as a new night-time tradition.

Those narrations of his wildest thoughts to his mom sparked his desire to become an author.

Liam held his first book launch on International Children’s Book Day, celebrated on April 2, with many of his schoolmates from Vaz Preparatory offering support alongside members of an online literacy programme founded by his mother in 2020.

The programme gives children aged six to 12 an opportunity to improve their writing, reading, and communication skills.

One of the key objectives of her programme as managing director of Ladash Communication and Publishing is to get youngsters published, her son’s being the firstfruits of that labour.

Adventures of Crocky and Mousey did not come overnight, Samuels-Cousins explained, highlighting that she had noticed that Liam was “different” from he was as young as four. He reportedly learned at a faster pace than his peers and was much more advanced at school.

“I realised that he wasn’t like other kids, and so I tapped into that,” she said.

Samuels-Cousins helped Liam hone his craft by allowing him to name the characters and story titles and assist in the sequencing of events.

“I said, ‘Okay. One day there was a crocodile by the name of ... ?’ He said ‘Crocky!’ ... and a mouse? And he said, ‘Mousey!’ and I started to tell the story and we were playing and he started to talk [and] we started the dialogue,” she said in the Gleaner interview.

She added that it was Liam’s choice for the book’s dialogue to be in Jamaican Creole.

Over the last four years, Liam and his mother would reread their story together and make edits until it was deemed perfect for publication.

Liam said he enjoyed the creative process and appreciated the turnout of his peers for his launch.

The book, which tells the story of friendship between a crocodile and a mouse, two creatures viewed as polar opposites, teaches children that despite differences, persons “can find common ground to be true friends”, said Samuels-Cousins.

Liam, a third-grader, said the story encourages camaraderie and kindness.

“[I want] to show people to love each other and to take care of each other and to treat people how they want to be treated, “ he told The Gleaner.

The next step for Liam is writing a sequel.

The Penpals Writing Club offers $3,500 per month in group and private lessons for youngsters. The roughly 18-member group is exposed to a wide array of disciplines such as animation, sports, and music writing.

Levonne Newsome, a parent who enrolled her nine-year-old daughter, said that the programme was a welcome relief during the period of isolation and containment linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsome sent her daughter to the classes because she wanted her to improve academically.

The initiative has, said Newsome, moulded her daughter into a more vocal and engaging student who has taken an interest in writing short stories of her own. She was previously known to be incredibly shy and did not participate in classes.

Her daughter has also been exposed to learning French, sign language, and coding, which have made her into a more diversified student.

“It’s good to have someone connecting with your child who knows how to bring the best out of them out,” she said, adding that there are some parents – and even teachers – who lack the competence to engage with kids meaningfully.

Parents who wish to enrol their children may contact Samuels-Cousins at 876-527-0341 or through Facebook and Instagram @penpalswritingclub or visit her website: https://penpalswriting.com/.