We rely far more on typing letters (typesetting) these days than we do writing letters by hand (handwriting), to the point where cursive writing is becoming an arcane skill, no longer being taught in many schools. Yet, despite its growing importance, typography is a skill that is all but ignored by institutions of learning.
We are all typographers now and it’s time to start learning effective ways to communicate with type. The younger we start, the better.
With that in mind, I was excited to see a new Kickstarter campaign that wants to create a board book to teach young kids a little about typography. Are You My Typeface? tells the story of a lower case “a” as it explores the world around it, looking for its typeface and meeting many strange typefaces along the way, an homage to my favorite childhood book Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastmen.
According to the author and illustrator Jesse Austin-Breneman:
The intent of the book is really to have the adult and child sit down, read the book together and have the story centered around different typefaces. The interactions between the parent are child are built into the book. The narration in the book communicates how you are supposed to read it, so the adult’s tone of voice can convey the story to the child even if the child is too young to realize graphical differences between the typefaces.
What a brilliant idea! Toddlers are at an age where they want to classify everything, and teaching them to classify typefaces has the built in advantage of teaching them to read at the same time: the word literally means what it looks like.
A font is to text what voice is to speech.
I asked Jesse which typeface his daughter — whom he created the original version of the book for — prefers, “When reading the book to my daughter, I use different voices for the different fonts, so I’m not sure if it’s the typeface itself or the voice but she likes Futura the best.”
For $15 you can get the board book but the better deal is $25 for the book and posters.