What made you decide to write a children’s book series?
I have four kids of my own, and I know how important it is to read to and with your kids, especially when they're young. Many studies have shown that kids who are exposed to reading before they reach kindergarten or first grade tend to do better in school. Reading to your kids when they are young also fosters a love for reading. It's a great way to expand your imagination, to have different experiences, to learn, and to "escape" - reading also exercises different areas of your brain - rather than, say, turning on the television. Reading fosters a different kind of creativity.
I also strongly believe in the importance of families spending time together, and reading to your kids is a great way to spend quality time together.
Did your children give you any input (or inspiration) when it came to writing your books?
My kids are getting older now, but yes, the fact that I have four kids definitely inspired me to write the books. I wanted to create quality, fun, informative stories that young kids would enjoy, but would also hopefully learn something from. The stories aren't about my kids, but I definitely kept in the back of my mind, "Would my daughter or son enjoy this story?"
Inspiration for the stories came from topical events and from wanting kids to feel safe, have a positive image of themselves, and to have a positive outlook on what they can achieve in life. I want every youth to know they have potential, and to not be afraid to follow their dreams.
What made you decide to go the self-publishing route?
Self-publishing allows the most freedom in the sense that you are writing, editing, illustrating your story as you envision in your mind. With self-publishing, we could select what illustrator we wanted to use, what kinds of stories we tell, when we release books, and how frequently we release books - which worked well for me with my basketball and travel schedule. When I found a topic that inspired me, or that I wanted to share with kids, I could write and release a book on my own schedule. It just made the most sense for me. Obviously when you go the self-publishing route you don't have the resources behind you that you do with an established publisher, so there is definitely a trade-off. But I really enjoyed the freedom and creativity that self-publishing allowed for these books.
What has been the most fun or surprising part of writing for children?
The most surprising part of writing for children is how hard it is! (Laughs). The books are mainly geared towards 4-9 year olds, so when writing for this demographic you need to keep the developmental stage of this age range in mind, and what they can relate to. That can be hard sometimes, coming from our adult minds that have become so used to operating in the world in our "adult" ways. But it's fun - and important - to focus on seeing the world from other perspectives. So it was humbling and inspiring to try to relate to the world from the eyes of, say, a 7 year old.
Can we look forward to more children’s books from you?
I hope so! Currently I have no plans to release any more children's books, but you never know! We have six titles out so far - Metta's Bedtime Stories, Metta's World Peace and Love Stories, Metta's Fatherhood Stories, Metta: The Panda's Friend, Metta's Trip to the African Heritage Museum, Metta: Let's Meet the Police.
Where can readers buy your books?
The books can be found on Amazon.com!
Are their any tips you can provide other authors who wish to self-publish a children’s book?
I would encourage anyone who wants to self-publish a children's book to give it a shot. It's a great learning experience and is challenging, fun, and completely do-able with the technology available today.
What’s next for Metta World Peace?
I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for Metta World Peace, myself! Right now I'm really enjoying playing for the Lakers, and hope to be playing again or coaching next season. In the meantime, I'll keep putting in the hard work, getting the workouts in and training both my sons in basketball. During the off-season, I'll be spending a lot of time with my kids - both my sons play basketball, my youngest daughter plays tennis, and my oldest daughter has a passion for the music business. So between my workouts, my kids' workouts and games and everything else, it will be a pretty busy summer.
About the author:
Metta World Peace and Xcel University, Inc.:
Born Ronald William Artest Jr. on Nov. 13, 1979, in Queensbridge, New York, Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace in September 2011, in an effort to encourage dialogue over physical violence, and promote good will toward all. He is the father of four children.
World Peace has been playing professional basketball since 1999, and currently plays with the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. In his career he has played for the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls. Internationally he has played with the Chinese Basketball Association's Sichuan Blue Whales and Italy's Pallacanestro Cantu. He was selected to the 2005-06 NBA’s All- Defensive Team, was voted by the media as 2003-04 NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, and was the only man with 271 steals in his first two seasons in the NBA, breaking Michael Jordan’s record. He won his first NBA World Championship with the LA Lakers in June 2010, and received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award – the NBA’s highest citizenship and community service honor – in April 2011.
World Peace has remained an active contributor in his hometown and in cities of organizations for which he has played, and has worked simultaneously in global regions that require urgent humanitarian aid. He formed a nonprofit in August 2007, “Xcel University,” to officially organize and streamline his charitable contributions and community endeavors under one umbrella.
In fall 2010, World Peace raffled off his 2010 NBA World Championship Ring, with the proceeds going to his nonprofit, Xcel University. The online ring raffle, which concluded on December 25, 2010, raised $651,006. Funds raised through the ring raffle were donated to nonprofits that provide mental health therapists and mental health services to their communities, in cities including Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Cleveland, New York, Little Rock, AR and the central Tennessee region.
World Peace also helped Congresswoman Napolitano launch "The Mental Health in Schools Act" in Fall 2010 by participating in a mental health training program and visiting schools which were a part of the Mental Health in Schools Act's pilot program. World Peace made trips to Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. in February 2011 and February 2013, to encourage congressional members to vote for the Act, which would increase mental health services for children.
Xcel University and Metta World Peace collaborated with LA County Department of Mental Health in an outdoor print PSA campaigns in February 2012 and May 2013, which encouraged people to seek mental health services when they need them. The print PSAs appeared on MTA bus shelters, billboards, and inside the rail cars of the MTA Transit System. He also participated in a viral mental health PSA campaign with the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in June 2014, which encouraged teens to seek mental health services if they need them. World Peace continues to speak with groups of youth and adults on the importance of mental health and seeking help when one needs it.
World Peace has visited hundreds of community centers, groups, schools and libraries in numerous cities throughout his career, talking with youth about the importance of education and seeking mental health counseling if one needs it.
For more information, please visit www.mettaworldpeace.com and www.xceluniversity.org.