Too Many Things: A Discussion with Tracy Bryan
Interview sponsored by Tracy Bryan
The Children’s Book Review | March 29, 2016
Can you tell us about the inspiration for the book “Too Many Things”? Was it inspired by something you saw or experienced as an adult and/or as a kid?
Most of the books I write are inspired by what I see in the world. In my own family, my community, and around the globe. Because I write for kids about social issues, I try to stay current with contemporary topics that affect kids and their families. The idea of consumerism evolved during the research stage of my creative process, when I kept noticing news articles for parents about how to teach their kids to be Minimalists. That’s great, but these suggestions seemed backwards to me. In our culture, the average family has way more than they need and the kids aren’t the ones with the buying power. I feel we need a new approach to having more balance in our lives. Kids need to be empowered to change, not told what to do. In Too Many Things! I want to enlighten kids on some of the facts about consumerism and inspire in them ideas about ways that the kids can teach their parents about needs v.s wants and together they can be better consumers.
What has been the most memorable reader reaction to “Too Many Things”, so far?
I was recently at a book fair and I had numerous people come up to my booth and say, “Ah, too many things. We need to read this book in our home.” To me, that was all the feedback I needed. This book is relateable.
What is the best way, in your opinion, to help children appreciate the value of being together vs. acquiring more “things”?
I’m a huge advocate of family vacations. Even simple “staycations” where the whole family spends quality time together (without electronic devices) enjoying each other’s company. Every day we are constantly bombarded with obligations, places we have to be, and things we should get. Time away from all this is refreshing for the entire family and provides so much individual growth to “just be” with each other and catch up.
If you had to pick 5 possessions to keep but everything else had to go, what would those 5 things be?
I’m going to assume this applies to living in the First World, so running water and electricity is included.
My home(with basic furnishings, electrical appliances and photo albums/other sentimental items), my favorite and most comfortable clothes and shoes, my car, my television and cable/internet service, my computer (it’s my livelihood!)
How often do you organize your own belongings?
My rule of thumb is that before anything comes in the house, something must go out. But…my closets, cupboards and drawers are a mess, so this area needs work in my life.
What is your favorite place to donate used/unwanted items?
I’m a firm believer in helping family first, community second and the world next. I’m grateful to have a family that is in need of nothing. We’ve always been in family business and we like to pay it forward financially to help other families we know or people that work for us. Being a children’s author, one of the best gifts I can give is books. I love donating books! Sure it’s essential to do this for reviews, but I really like to give books without expecting anything in return-especially to kids. I use charities that donate books globally, groups that collect books for libraries and organizations that contribute to child literacy. It feels good to do this, so I also donate to my local schools and libraries when I have a new release. Some of my non-fiction books have themes with mental health, so I randomly send complimentary copies to different children’s organizations that deal with mental health awareness. All my friends and the people in my community that I know get a complimentary copy of my new books if they have a child they can share it with.
What books are sitting on your coffee table right now?
It’s a compilation of photographs from this cool local artist that takes pics of abandoned places around Florida. He calls himself a Ghost Hunter and some of his works are metal prints-they are infused on the surface in aluminum and finished with a high gloss. Check him out!
What is your favorite aspect of the book-writing process?
When I’m lost in my own head and frantically tapping away on my keyboard to get the words out onto the screen. Sometimes, I’ll just grab a piece of paper and madly write down whatever is on my mind. It feels like my brain is being tickled.
When you wake up in the morning, what comes first: coffee, food, or meditation?
COFFEE! Then my dogs and I go to this serene pond near our house and this is like walking meditation for me. Most days I start writing by nine and yoga comes after the second cup of coffee.
What other topics related to mindfulness or “being present” do you feel are best addressed in kid’s books?
One contemporary topic that I write a lot about is addiction. I’m a huge promoter of addiction awareness and recovery education for kids and their families. What used to be seen as a stigma (and in some towns, schools, and libraries still is), has become a huge social issue in our nation and the world.
Young kids need to learn the basic concepts of what addiction is because based on statistics they may have someone in their family or know someone who is going through it. There is little materials out there for them.
Too Many Things! is loosely based on the idea of shopping addiction. Helping this generation of kids to understand “addictive” thinking and behavior by being more present and aware may just prevent them from trying to spend their way to happiness.
Written by Tracy Bryan
Illustrated by David Barrow
Publisher’s Synopsis: Jamie’s parents love to shop, but he thinks they have too many things. He’ll do whatever it takes to keep his family from the stores this weekend. Can Jamie show his parents that they have more than they need? What will they do with the stuff they already have? Find out if Jamie can help make his home, community and the world just a little bit better!
“Recommended for parents who believe their children would benefit from learning about living more simply, appreciating each other, and giving things away.” —The Children’s Book Review
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Tracy Bryan Publishing | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0692816141
About the Author
Tracy Bryan is an award winning self-published author for kids aged 4-12. She writes whimsical non-fiction picture books about emotions, coping skills, mental health and mindfulness. Tracy also likes to tackle social issues and speak directly to her readers about important topics that affect everyone. Tracy hopes to educate, inspire and empower kids and their families with her books. Tracy writes a monthly personal Blog for adults on her website and one for kids aged 6-12 called The Awesomeness Blog. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. To learn more about Tracy or contact her, please email tracy[at]tracybryan[dot]com or visit her website tracybryan.com.
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