Sometimes writing truly is a family affair.
With help from their mom and aunt, two young brothers from Los Altos recently wrote and published an educational children’s book, “There’s Something Fishy about Writing.”
Asked by their parents to write about their experiences during a family trip to Hong Kong, Alex and Thomas Tsang realized a metaphor helped them improve their writing – and they wanted to help other young kids do the same. That led them to write “There’s Something Fishy about Writing,” a children’s book that emphasizes perseverance while also teaching students about proper essay structure.
Students at Cupertino Middle School, Alex, 11, and Thomas, 13, said they used to struggle with writing in school. While planning their two essays, Alex thought of the fish metaphor, which became the main focus of their book. Thomas said the metaphor helped him “learn how to assemble paragraphs, how to improve my writing structure and different techniques to make my writing style better,” he said.
The boys hope the metaphor helps young kids understand the structure of a persuasive essay through the connection of fishhooks and writing hooks.
“Once you use something in a fun way, you don’t forget,” said their mother Wynnyee Tsang.
Wynnyee helped the boys plan the book and get it published earlier this year. They also received assistance from their aunt, Cindy Tse, who did the illustrations. Wynnyee said Tse’s drawings “brought (the story) to life.”
Family proved crucial during the writing process, and Wynnyee encouraged aspiring writers to use relatives as a resource. She advised them to “enlist your family,” because “they definitely have a different perspective on everything.”
She added that it can be hard for kids to learn to write – and even harder for parents to help them.
“You try your best,” Wynnyee said, “and whatever happens after that, you try to accept it.”
She hopes to pass on this mindset to her kids. During the writing process, she said they started “putting some ideas on paper and allowing them to free-write first.”
Because it can be difficult for kids to focus on challenging tasks, Wynnyee said it was important for her boys to have an “open mind to it.”
She also offered advice to parents who want to encourage their own kids to flourish.
“Life isn’t full of success,” she said. “It’s what you do with the setbacks, and how you overcome them, that makes you a better person.”
The self-published “There’s Something Fishy about Writing” is available on Amazon.
For more information on the Tsangs and their book, visit smartalextips.com.