Photo of Roberta by Julie Chalbaud

Barbadian author Roberta “Nana” Simpson firmly believes in the power of words to convey positive and encouraging messages that empower children to find their values and to understand how their actions can impact the lives of others in a beneficial way.

Storytelling as a way of imparting wisdom has always been interwoven into our lives and our communities; history was passed down from generation to generation, conveying a message of morals and values.  While stories have lost none of their power to entrance and enthrall, sharing stories or reading to children has become somewhat of a lost art in our technology-driven lives where everything is instant and digital is the name of the game. Now, more than ever, children need the essential building blocks of awareness that can influence their lives in tremendous ways, teaching them how to be considerate and to treat others with compassion.

Local author Roberta “Nana” Simpson believes in the power of word to convey positive messages that empower children to find their values and to understand the impact of their behaviour on the world; by bringing the tradition of storytelling back into the home, families have the opportunity to inspire their children, encouraging them to read together and spend quality time with each other. It is in capturing the imagination of children through taking stories from the Bible and delivering them in a fun and interactive way that Roberta has found her niche.

It’s no surprise that Roberta had a passion for storytelling.  As the daughter of a big band leader and an actress she grew up during the London Blitz of WWII, her great-grandparents were the last Raj and Ranee of Sarawak (now Borneo) and her grandmother was the inspiration for the character of Wendy in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. It was clearly in her DNA. Over the years she has entertained her children, grandchildren, their friends and anyone else who stopped in along the way with her colourful, “crazy stories”. Now all children worldwide can experience the warmth and adventure of the Bible and know of God’s great love for each of His little ones, through Roberta’s wonderfully written books.

Starting a writing career at 70 was clearly a calling, and one that was supported by a strong faith in God. Roberta recalls “I heard His voice as clear as day. You can write now.’ Embarking on this new journey, all she knew was that she had to write. “I didn’t know at that time what my direction was going to be – I began by building a story around a story, making it applicable to daily life and adding humour.” One thing Roberta always knew how to do was to connect with children. “I have always wanted to help children to apply virtues to their lives, to help them find a meaning to their questions and to guide them; children need to connect to their feelings, to understand what they are experiencing in life” she explains. Nana’s Bible Stories (which garnered a Mom’s Choice Award for excellence in 2009) and Once Upon a Christmas firmly established Roberta as a successful children’s author. In 2007 she was presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award by well-known gospel singer Michael W Smith.

Tails from the Ark is Roberta’s third book, beautifully illustrated to creatively tell the story of the biblical flood and what life might have been like on Noah’s Ark…from the perspective of the animals!

Using the Fruits of the Spirit as a frame of reference, Roberta takes the lessons of Faithfulness, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Self-control, Peace, Joy and Love and brings an imaginative and fresh appreciation to a traditional bible story – and in doing so, she opens a door for young readers to think about their own challenges in life, connect with their feelings and how to face them with understanding and compassion.

Roberta’s books have reached young readers as far away as Africa & Thailand through donations to orphanages and children’s charities around the world. A thousand books were given to her grandson Rafael Simpson (a young entrepreneur with a social conscience and a belief that self-worth and education go hand in hand), who created a company - Know Me, Love Me – which, for every backpack purchased, donates a backpack with books and school supplies to orphanages and children in need around the world. 100 backpacks containing pens, pencils and a copy of Tails from the Ark were recently donated to children in La Libertad, El Salvador through the charity City of Light. Roberta also visits primary schools in Barbados to speak to the children.

As Roberta explains, “the message of the books is about hope. Not only for the children, but also for their families. A book is an opportunity to read a story and connect with children and make a difference in their lives.”

 

Find out more at www.RobertaSimpson.com or Facebook/RobertaSimpson. All of Roberta’s books are available in Barbados from all Pages Bookstores. To find out more about Know Me, Love Me visit www.kmlmnyc.com.

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