Scott Hanselman

Teach your kids to be fans

February 16, 2013 Comment on this post [15] Posted in Musings | Parenting
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I love how social media shatters the barriers to entry for fans. I can tweet my favorite actors and authors, like my favorite comic artists or writers and connect with them in a way that has not just immediacy but a social connectedness that's so satisfying.

But there's also something to be said for a letter in the mail. Being a fan can be reading and enjoying but it can also be appreciating and reaching out. I'm trying to teach a sense of appreciation to my sons and encouraging them to reach out.

They love these books in the Joey Fly Private Eye series. They are super cute and great fun for the kids.

After reading them (many times) my boys decided that they needed to write a fan letter to the writer, Aaron Reynolds, and the artist, Neil Numberman.

It was more than a fan letter, though, it was a reminder there are Makers out there. There are real humans who think up and create the things they love. Perhaps it's also a reminder that they can be Makers as well if they choose.

Here's what they wrote (the 5 year old, so bear with him):

Are you making more Joey Flies? We think you should

The kids also mentioned that they liked tennis and that my oldest had recently lost a tooth.

And here's what showed up in the mail from Neil Numberman.

My sons as bugs, by Neil Numberman

Note the missing tooth on the bug on the right.

There are no words for the awesomeness of this. This is how you get life long fans, my friends.

Thank you, Neil. You should use your twitter more. ;)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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February 16, 2013 1:04
Frame that. Have it done nicely somewhere.

I have (in my son's room) a framed letter, picture and coin from William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy) that was sent to my dad when he was a kid and had been hit by a car. It's faded a bit over the years, but it's still a pretty cool conversation piece, and something my son loves.
February 16, 2013 1:55
Dear Scott,

My two-and-a-half year old daughter adores you. And, uh, she's really interested in kitties and, um, a custom WCF authentication page running under HTTPS. See what you can do for her. Thanks.
February 16, 2013 2:15
@Brad lol!
February 16, 2013 3:31
And gets new fans!

Since the subset of the Hanselites with kids will now try these books out.
I've never heard of them, but I bet if your boys love them my 6 year old will.
February 16, 2013 7:16
Totally awesome. Are the books pretty easy for them to read? Always looking for more books for them to try :)
February 16, 2013 8:17
Great story! It reminded me of this story from game developer Two Tribes.
February 17, 2013 7:30
@brad, well played sir!
February 17, 2013 19:31
That's just really nice they take the time to reply, love it!
And thumbs up for your 5 year old, where I come from Children can't write anything before the age of 7!
February 18, 2013 3:39
I completely disagree. Social Media is the scourge of modern life. It's ills greatly outweigh its benefits. I wish it would just go away.
February 18, 2013 7:10
Do you remember Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood? It was positively my favorite show for the first few years of my TV viewing life. I did exactly what your kids did, after being encouraged to do it by my mother.

I received approximately 20 signed 5x7 B&W glossy prints of the entire cast, all of them signed, some by the production crew that put them together (the land of make believe). I received a personal letter from Fred Rogers, thanking me for watching his show and expressing how happy he was that I enjoyed it. The package also contained stickers and some kind of activity book that I can't really remember now.

Man, I wish I still had that stuff today. It was lost during one of our many moves.

You've motivated me to try an experiment. We managed to get our daughter (now seven) the complete collection of every Fraggle Rock (another favorite) episode ever made. She positively loves it and gets really involved while watching it, up to creating her own 'doozer' bridges.

We're going to try writing to see if anyone is still listening for feedback on that line, I'll report if anything comes out of it.
February 18, 2013 7:10
@David - If social media is do bad don't use it, that simple. I don't like lots of things so I just ignore them, problem solved. If others enjoy then fine.
February 18, 2013 7:17
@David you can't be serious, the benefits are far greater than the problems.

I can easily reach Scott, how would I do the following without social media:

Hey Scott, I really appreciate your work and wanted to say that if you search for "Fat Programmer" in google images you will show up, don't ask me why. Cheers!
February 18, 2013 7:46
"Social Media is the scourge of modern life. It's ills greatly outweigh its benefits. I wish it would just go away."

Would posting that sentiment in a user-generated comment on a blog post seem a little like buying television commercial air time to proclaim the scourginess of television?

"Social Media" is a fairly broad term...
February 18, 2013 23:13
Man! Like you said "no words". It brought tears to my eyes because I was imagining your kids’ faces watching that! A so simple gesture that would cause a lifetime impression!
February 21, 2013 18:39
So true. I am having dinner with Soledad O'Brien tonight because I started talking to her on Twitter. I mean how freakin awesome is that??

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.