What does a best-selling author do during quarantine? He writes the book he wasn’t allowed to during “normal time.” Dr Noah Charney is an internationally best-selling author of over a dozen books, including a Pulitzer finalist (The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art, 2017). But he’s known for books on art. His agent wasn’t too keen on him branching out, but he had been wanting to write a parenting book ever since his daughters, now 5 and 7, were born. Isolation time was the perfect time to do it.
“This isn’t a book for isolation time, but this was a period when families were together 24/7, and that was just what I needed to write the book I’d been planning for years,” he said. “Success can be a double-edged sword, and since I’m established as an author on art, it’s a tougher sell for publishers to take on a parenting book of mine.” There was also the timing issue—publishers take a year or more to release books and plan ages ahead. If he wanted the book to come out quickly, his only option was self-publishing, and he opted for a Kickstarter campaign to do so, which runs until July 4. The Kickstarter campaign was fully funded in 12 hours and, as of writing (ten days in), is over 1000% and going strong.
The result is “Superpower Your Kids: A Professor’s Guide to Teaching Your Kids Everything in Just 15 Minutes a Day.” It’s a new approach to inspiring a love of learning in young children. In it, Dr Charney borrows techniques used by Nobel Prize winners and his approach as a university professor and creates a system suitable for fun, engaging “lessonlets” with kids roughly aged 3-12.
The idea has been in practice in Dr Charney’s family since his kids were 3. Every day he teaches his kids a single thing, sometimes in as little as a minute and never more than 15, in the process of playing. These miniature lessons feel like part of the fun, but he uses special, but easily taught, techniques to help them retain the information and feel empowered by it. Every new piece of knowledge or skill learned gives kids a “new superpower” and they can “level up” their superpowers by becoming more advanced through practice. In the book, Dr Charney includes 365 ideas for “lessonlets” in addition to the main content.
There’s also a quantified self-component to empower parents. By keeping track of the lesson a day, it helps to chart the quality time parents and kids spend together, expanding the memory of childhood and happy experiences. Kids can see their progress and parents can see how many wonderful, diverse things they did with their children. To help with this, in addition to the book, if there’s enough interest Dr Charney will develop a tie-in smartphone journaling app that allows parents to save photos and videos of their “superpower” activities.
“This is a very special opportunity, because the book is limited edition,” Charney continues. “There are currently no plans for the book to be published and available beyond the backers of the Kickstarter campaign.” This means it may be your only chance to get it.
The key to this system is being 100% focused on your children for even just a minute at a time. So often we parents are pulled in myriad directions, and when we think we’re spending quality time with them, we’ll be checking our phones, or have the TV on in the background, or are thinking about work. “Dedicating even just a minute at a time while completely focused on your kid is worth hours of only being semi-present,” Dr Charney says. “I hope this book will empower parents by helping them see how much difference they can make with such reasonable amounts of time, and how an easy shift in approach can get kids truly excited about learning and advancing their knowledge.”