INDIANAPOLIS — How many architects do you know who also want to be an author of children’s books? That was the goal of Westfield architect Gary Vance.
"On my bucket list was to write a children's book about architecture," Vance said. "I was smart enough to say, 'Well, I'm not just going to do one. If we're going to do it, we're going to do a series.'"
Vance's family and he set out to write an entire series of books for kids K-12 to teach them about the wonders of architecture — all in a visually stimulating way.
"[The intention] is to be able to educate and inform young people about what architects do," Vance said. "We have what we call 'STEAM' pages, you know, if you've heard of 'STEM.' So with 'STEAM,' we added the 'A,' which is 'architecture' in the middle there. So there's one team activity for every building and public art that's in the book."
Vance said when the coronavirus pandemic hit, all team pages were added to the series' website to be downloaded for free.
When it came time to come up with a mascot for his "Kid Architect" books, Vance intentionally went without that character. Instead, he wants the child reading the book to be the main character so that the content can better connect with minority and underprivileged children who may have never thought of themselves as architects.
"'Kid Architect' is not a race, color, creed, not a boy or girl, not a nationality, not an ethnicity," Vance said. "We wanted the reader to be able to see themselves as the architect. So it was very much a conscious decision to reach those who do not have the opportunity to have role models as architects."
Last year, Vance published his first book, "Kid Architect Goes to Columbus, Indiana."
The book was a success, so a follow-up was needed, and Vance wasn't going to let the coronavirus pandemic delay the release of "Kid Architect Goes to Indiana."
Vance enlisted the help of almost every member of his family to help with writing, producing and promoting this new book.
"It’s turned out to be a family project," Vance said. "My co-authors are my daughter-in-law and my daughter. My daughter does all the social media, my son does the website, and then have a son-in-law, who kind of just understands that whole internet of things. And my wife does everything that no one else wants to do."