By Tim Hayes
In the prehistoric days before FM or satellite radio in the car, much less iPods or Twitter or any of the myriad media options to occupy one’s attention these days, we had something different. Something old fashioned. Something better.
We had Big Little Books.
Many a car ride to a favorite aunt’s house, to church on Sunday morning, or to some event or another, was spent in the back seat of our family’s brown Chevelle with my two sisters. Rather than snipe with either (or both) of them, I’d settle in with a Big Little Book. A quiet, peaceful backseat full of kids made Mom happy, too.
Big Little Books were a wonderful invention by the Whitman Publishing Company back in the 1930s. They featured full-length stories, including some of the classics but mostly pulpy comic book characters or superhero tales. The great feature, though, was that each book fit in the palm of your hand, measuring about 4.5 inches high by 3.5 inches across, and that a full-page illustration faced every single page of text.
I can remember reading Aquaman and Fantastic Four stories, along with Tom Sawyer, the Lone Ranger, and some other favorites. When you enjoyed a story in a Big Little Book, you forgot you were reading. The pages flew by, and the steady stream of illustrations helped move the story along swiftly, as well.
Big Little Books opened the doorway to the concept of reading for enjoyment for millions of kids, myself included. They probably helped formulate the idea in my head, from the earliest years of elementary school, that I wanted to be a writer. An appreciation of words and how they can move an idea forward has appealed to me my whole life, and those compact storybooks may have lit that particular fuse.
Keeping things simple, easy to follow, and even enjoyable when you can. That’s the essence of good writing that persuades and encourages people to act.
Conversely, with around 10 weeks before the big election in November, the level of nonsense and diversions and distractions and distortions and mischaracterizations and pomposity and denials and accusations – you know what I mean – is guaranteed to reach epic proportions. And that’s so sick, so unworthy, so disrespectful to the electorate.
Wouldn’t it be nice, would it be too much to ask, could we possibly hope, that our candidates – from the local school board to Congress to the White House – follow the wonderful example of the Big Little Books?
State your case simply, clearly, and honestly. Be respectful, both of your opponent and of the office to which you aspire. Make your argument easy to follow. Show us that you understand the vision, concerns, and fears of your potential constituents, and that you have a plan to address them. Let us get to know you as a person, not just as a slogan or a vague promise.
Honor us with your effort. Have enough faith to level with us. Trust us enough to provide a story about you that fits in the palm of our hands. There’s too much riding on this election for anything less.
I never finished a Big Little Book and felt cheated or angry or disappointed or like I needed to take a shower from all the nastiness. It would be great to feel that same way after a hard-fought campaign, regardless of who wins in the end.
Copyright 2012 Tim Hayes Consulting