CHANGING the face of educational children’s books is husband-and-wife team Danielle and Josh Wakerman. The pair wrote, designed and self-published the the Jett Around The World series, which so far consists of five books. Each book explores a different city – Sydney, London, New York, Los Angeles and Paris.
Finalists at the International Book Awards for Children’s Books and featured at the recent Byron Bay Writers Festival, Josh told The AJN that the series was three years in the making and involved consultations with local school teachers to enhance the books’ educational value.
“Danielle and I worked together on every component to bring these books to life,” he said. “We were both looking for excuses to quit our day jobs, and then one day we were on a weekend road trip to the Central Coast with our 2-year-old daughter Amalia and inspiration just hit. The idea organically evolved and we decided to build the business.”
The Wakermans are also dedicated to “giving back”, Josh said. He and Danielle agreed that once they sold 1000 books, they would donate 1000 books to classrooms overseas including schools, kindergartens and orphanages in Nairobi, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
“There are huge logistical issues getting books to Africa,” Josh explained. “But we were walking on Bondi Beach one day and we just bumped into the Masai warrior cricket team! They took all of the books to Africa and delivered them for us.”
Included with each book is a world map and a page of stickers that children can collect and stick in their Jett passport as they read more books in the series. Josh said a huge influence behind the books is the fact that children don’t know much about the world around them.
“A lot of kids these days grow up insular. There’s a lot of fear-mongering and ignorance about other cultures, so we want to try to open up children’s minds by encouraging them to read about different cities. Each book has an educational element so that children can learn about the customs and languages of other cultures.”
In the future, the Wakermans would like to explore more eclectic cities as their business grows. Future books in the series will include Cape Town, Honolulu, Tokyo and Bejing.