Nikki Lee sparks children’s imagination with new book
A writer and a lover of adventure, early-childhood educator Nikki Lee has combined both of her affections to create a book of wonder, to spark the imagination of your children all around the world. Let’s jump with Jolli, shall we?
Jump with Jolli Around the World, according to the young author, is about a little girl who travels to different countries by jumping. “After her grandmother tucks her into bed, Jolli jumps out and takes readers on her many adventures. In the book, she explores seven countries, one country per night, and shares what’s special about each place. The book is set within the timeframe of a week, so it can be read in parts or all at once,” Lee explained to Sunday Lifestyle.
The book highlights seven countries from different regions of the world: Australia, Jamaica, China, Ghana, Azerbaijan, Norway, and Brazil. This lesson of history, geography, and social studies, all wrapped up in an exciting package, incorporates information and facts that children may not have known about each place. Leave it to Jolli to open the borders so that children can learn more about the world around them.
Since living and teaching in China, Lee has observed that most adults are unaware of cultures outside of their own; a sad reality for many other people around the world. So, she decided to be the change she needed to see by providing children with an opportunity to learn more about different countries.
“Books ignite a child’s imagination and allow them to be more conscious and critical in their thinking, so I wanted to contribute in that way. I also saw a problem that needed to be addressed, so I needed to write a children’s book to nip it in the bud, so to speak,” she elaborated.
It is significant to note that she inherited her love for moulding young minds from her mother, a retired teacher who took great pleasure and pride in mentoring many students in the past. Carrying on this mantle, Lee tries her utmost best to encourage her students to approach life with a bit of curiosity and not limit themselves in their thinking and actions.
“As a teacher, I constantly read stories to my students. I’d find myself getting into character and performing for them each time. I loved how enthusiastic they were to hear the stories.” It is with this tenacity that she opted to inspire other children outside of her classroom to engage with their creative side.
“I saw the performance in class as an opportunity to write a story of my own; one that would be both entertaining and educational,” Lee shared, adding that being an author was a recent goal that she set for herself and she is happy to have seen it through from start to finish. “I’m proud to have accomplished it.”
This children’s book was a labour of love, taking nine months from the first word to Amazon submission and publishing. Along the journey, she worked with an illustrator, Nazia bi bi, who had the unique ability to transform the fresh ideas presented into beautiful images. “I’m very satisfied with her work,” she added.
Lee also enlisted the expertise of a small publishing team, which was responsible for the design of the cover and interior layout. The creative process, she explained, involved many moments of writer’s block, self-doubt, and countless revisions. But she also learned the biggest lesson of them all: trust in her abilities.
“It has all been a trial-and-error experience for me. I’ve learned that it’s perfectly fine to write ‘madness’ on paper. All of those nonsensical ideas can be fine-tuned and put to good use,” she said.
With high hopes to create a Jump with Jolli series, she expressed that although she enjoyed the writing experience, her fondest moments have been the readings. “I’ve read many stories to my young students and I can see how much they enjoy listening, how much they’ve improved in terms of comprehending and thinking critically in English. I can’t pinpoint one fond moment in particular, but I’m overcome with joy every time I read to them. I’m extremely grateful to be able to play a role in shaping these young minds.”
Outside of teaching English as a second language to kindergarten and preschoolers, she also has an interest in art, board games, and studying various cultures of the world. Her advice to aspiring writers is for them to make time for their dream. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s important to jot down what comes to your mind because it could turn into a million-dollar idea. Also, read other people’s work, especially those similar to what you want to write about. Then, when you have a draft, don’t be afraid to share it with others to critique. This is how writers learn and improve on their craft.”