Wisdom in children's books
We’re big fans of reading to our kids, and with three kids, I’ve read a lot of children’s books. As with anything, I’ve found there is a vast difference between the great ones and the ones that, well, fall short. Right now, my absolute two favorite authors are Oliver Jeffers and Kobi Yamada with illustrations from Mae Besom. By no means are we die-hards with these authors but they each have a couple of books that we’ve read repeatedly. We read them not just for the story, not only for the illustrations but for the meaning that each has.
Oliver Jeffers’ Here We Are is a field guide to life on Earth. The message of kindness is laid out in such an effortless and straightforward way; it makes me want to buy one for every person in the world. The illustrations are drool-worthy; done in the style that is approachable and yet intricate. Here We Are is just one demonstration to the imagination and hope the Jeffers brings to his books. Every time I read through them with my kids, I’m jealous of his simple yet powerful storytelling and illustrations. I recommend watching this short talk that he gave at Creative mornings. It’s inspiring to hear him talk concretely about the work that he does and why he does it.
The two stories from Kobi and Mae that we read on repeat are “What Do You Do with a Problem?” and “What Do You Do with an Idea?”. Both follow a small boy working through problems that not just face children but also adults. Reading through these stories helps me combat my problems and helps me fight my imposter syndrome. Something I would have never guessed would come from a children’s book. The illustrations in both books carry the stories’ meaning through little easter eggs. They’re hidden well; we only noticed them on the third or fourth read.
These are the kinds of books that I love buying for my kids and love reading over and over. What are your favorite children’s books, and what meaning do they have?
When it comes to discussing the “ethics” or the morality of our industry, we need to understand our basic moral beliefs.
“Ethics” and Ethics by Oliver Reichenstein should probably be required reading for designers helping build applications.
“I compare it to seeing a family member naked,” she said. “Once you look around the elevator and see the zombies checking their phones, you can’t unsee it.”
Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain by Kevin Roose
Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light: A Design Exercise for Getting Feedback From the Team
Getting focused, actionable design feedback can be hard. Running the Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light exercise is a constructive way to get feedback from the whole team.
How Do You Learn?
Typically one of the first questions that I ask people during an interview for our designer position at thoughtbot is how do they learn. It reveals to me what they know about themselves and how they will approach growing as a Designer at thoughtbot.
I’ve repeatedly had a goal to become a better writer. To be able to communicate my thoughts, ideas, and concerns in a clear and constructive way. I’ve tried and failed many times for a handful of reasons. The biggest is because I wasn’t following how I learn each and every time.
I, like many designers, learn through doing. But more than that I learn from the feedback and iteration after that work. For the longest time, I would write and edit myself but not get a critique on what I was doing right and what I could do better. There was no loop to iterate on. I was practicing, but I didn’t have any intent behind it. With design, I was lucky for the most part to be surrounded by designers that were happy to give their thoughts. I also have an excellent internal critique that helped me refine my skillset. I don’t have the same things with writing. I’m embarrassed by my writing most of the time and am afraid of facing the feedback that I would get. When I have gotten feedback on blog posts that I’ve written for thoughtbot or having others look over my writing, I don’t ask why they are suggesting changes I just accept them and move on because of that embarrassment.
Over the next few months, I’m going to be working with someone to get that feedback. I’ll be writing from prompts for students on the New York Times and working with them to understand what changes should be made and more importantly why they should be made. I’ll be posting the results here from time to time as a way to document my progress. I’m looking forward to growing along the way.