As far as author David Shannon knows, he does not have ADHD. That’s okay. He sure has a way of connecting with kids who do!
When you receive your Back-to-School issue of ADDitude magazine (mine arrived yesterday!) take a minute to take a peek at the book reviews that I wrote about messy room-themed children’s books. One of the books I recommend in the roundup is Too Many Toys, by big-name children’s book author and illustrator David Shannon. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to correspond with Shannon via email for the Q & A that follows the reviews. Natalie and I are both fans.
I remember reading Shannon’s "David" books (No, David, David Goes to School, David Gets in Trouble) to my son, Aaron, when he was younger, and really enjoying them. But reading them with my daughter, Natalie, who has ADHD, is a whole different experience! I see so much of Natalie and her ADHD characteristics in David. Like Natalie, David is impulsiveness personified! Natalie apparently feels the kinship too, because she can't get enough of David. (I'm cleaning out the back seat of the car, and Natalie yells, panicking, "Leave the David books!")
So, I already knew that Nat totally identifies with David when I introduced her to Spencer (Too Many Toys), with his messy room. Then I noticed that Alice ([_blank, Alice the Fairy)]) has some Natalie-like traits ("I'm supposed to learn how to make clothes...line up in the closet. I'm not very good at that, though.")
And I could write a Master's thesis making the case that A Bad Case of Stripes is an allegory about ADHD! (Shannon hopes the book could represent any number of common childhood problems.) Camilla is undeniably different, but she cries out to be liked just the way she is. She even deals with medication and alternative treatments.
After re-reading all of his books, and doing some research online to prepare for the interview, I became convinced that Shannon himself must have ADHD. And, I was brash enough to come right out and ask him: “David Shannon: Is there something you want to share with the ADDitude family?”
Turns out that, as far as Shannon knows, the answer in “No”. He does not have ADHD. That’s okay. He sure has a way of connecting with kids who do!
Here are two tidbits from the interview that didn’t make it into the magazine:
ADDitude: Many creative-types have ADHD. As a successful author and illustrator, what advice would you give to kids who have a creative streak, but may have trouble focusing it productively?
Shannon: I always tell kids to do stuff, whether they're drawing, writing, or whatever, about things they like--and do it A LOT! I drew all the time when I was a kid, and it's the one thing I kept doing through all the ups and downs and changes in my life.
ADDitude: When David's or Spencer's parents feel exasperated, what advice would you give them?
Shannon: Try bowling.
Shannon was quick to point out that although he’s often asked about ADHD, he’s no expert; thus the clever, but not altogether off target, answer, “Try bowling.”
Here’s how Natalie responded to the quip:
Nat comes over to me as I’m looking at my laptop, reading Shannon’s response to my interview questions. She climbs on my lap, and I start reading the interview aloud. “When David’s or Spencer’s parents feel exasperated, what advice would you give them?” I read. “David Shannon says, ‘Try bowling.’” “Done that. What else?” Nat blurts, the perfect ADHD response.
Read all of Shannon’s books with your child. If you’re anything like Natalie and me, you’ll both enjoy them.