Though I am new to writing books for children, I have a broad knowledge of child development due to my work as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist for many years. This body of knowledge definitely informed my creation of the Quincy the Horse Books which have a recommended age from 5-9 years of age.
Two ideas I find most important in understanding child development are that human potential that unfolds in stages of development as we grow and that children benefit from nurturing relationships based on secure bonds with consistent caretaking figures. Children have the opportunity to develop certain personal strengths in the childhood years and having supportive relationships not only provides a context for growth, it can also result in the formation of secure attachments which are a basis for all their relationships. Loss and change contribute to growth but children need support not to become overwhelmed.
Many theorists have offered ideas about stages of human development. I have always liked the work of psychoanalyst, Erik H. Erikson whose stages of human development are stated directly and without technical terminology.
Erikson was optimistic about growth and was an early believer that humans have an ongoing ability to grow throughout life. He identifies central issues for young children including the need to experience trust, to become autonomous, and to develop a feeling of competence and self-esteem. His concern is that children not experience overwhelming feelings of mistrust, shame, guilt or inferiority. Since primary relationships are the way children tend to experience the world, consistent nurturing becomes an important factor in the child’s growth, hopefully providing a somewhat stable foundation and home base as the child ventures further and further out into the world around him/her.
My first book, Quincy Finds A New Home, begins when Quincy has experienced a loss. The family who owned him has left the farm where he lives, and he is being cared for by a neighbor man who meets his basic needs. Then he gets a new owner and is taken to a new home. His new home is a busy barn where there are activities that he does not know how to join. People are friendly and welcoming but he feels sad and different. Finally he responds to the overture of his stable mate, an old horse named Beau, who has been trying to get to know him. In doing this he experiences trust and reassurance when he finds out that his new owner will love him for who he is. This is a task of the toddler and preschool years.
In Quincy Moves to the Desert, Quincy and Beau go on a trip across the country. Quincy has doubts about a big change, but Beau makes it an adventure by telling him how amazing the desert will be and teaching him about the states they travel through and all the things horses do in different places. Before he knows it, Quincy is learning about new things and letting his imagination take over! He begins to explore a whole range of possibilities. This is the task of the school experience that begins around 5 years of age.
It is my belief that books are one of the ways children (and adults) experience the world and are a profound opportunity for growth. It is my hope that the Quincy the Horse Books provide young readers with ways to expand their horizons in various areas including psychological growth, relational development and geographical awareness. Some children’s books draw on an exploration of the trauma and danger that are sadly omnipresent in the modern world. I try to place Quincy solidly in the security of supportive and loving relationships and draw on an exploration of his emotions and his amazement at the new things he is learning to engage his readers.