fun for fingers by anna bruder

Interactive picture book Fun for Fingers! by Anna Bruder

New children’s activity book created to improve children’s dexterity, increase creativity and provide hours of fun at their fingertips.

Born out of many years of research and experience working with children, Anna Bruder has developed a fun and fully inclusive activity book suitable for children aged 3-8. Based on the idea that play helps children develop as well as being entertaining, this collection of finger activities and games is focused around improving different skills and engaging the child in a variety of ways while providing hours of enjoyment for all the family.

Designed to be able to be played alone, with friends, with parents, grandparents, family members or others, these twelve unique games can be played alone or in teams, representing a creative alternative to screen-based entertainment that can be utilised at home or on the go.

‘There are so many benefits,’ creator Anna Bruder describes, ‘such as improving concentration, recognition of colour and shape, fine motor development, hand-eye co-ordination, and a sense of personal accomplishment.’

Examples such as the Finger Tightrope game have been designed to increase dexterity while Finger Relaxation allows a moment to reflect and be mindful, bringing attention to the general wellbeing of the reader in a gentle way.

Fun for Fingers! is an interactive picture book for the whole family to play together,’ Anna adds. ‘It’s about active reading, about breathing new life into your bookshelf and, most importantly, it’s about having fun!’

Ample space at the back of the book encourages children to think creatively and add their own finger games, making each a personal activity book representative of the child’s imagination that can be returned to again and again.

fun for fingers by anna bruder
fun for fingers by anna bruder
Fun for Fingers by Anna Bruder, published by Graffeg

ISBN 9781912654925 / RRP: £9.99 / 250 x 200mm / Paperback / 36 pages
Publication 1 October 2020

Interview with Anna Bruder

Q: Could you tell us how the ideas for this book came about? Are the activities based on games from your own childhood or did they have other influences?

A: From a very young age I’ve always loved making and creating new things. I used to set myself projects from making a world of bottle people and drawing millions of 5 legged dinosaurs (many are now framed!) to creating crazy assault courses. I’ve always loved inventing games; games that inspire, games that are accessible to all ages, games that encourage play for the whole family. So this book is testament to that. During my time at art school I was heavily influenced by the work of the brilliant artist Keith Haring. He loved play just as much as me. I love his energy and innovation, the thick black lines, the references to cartoons and the performative aspect of his public works. He was utterly brilliant and has inspired me to take my art to new levels.

Fun for Fingers! began about 3 years ago when I was commissioned to design a very large illustrated Outdoor Game for The Southbank Centre in London https://www.alineart.co.uk/project/outdoor-games. It was an opportunity to create an interactive installation that was visually exciting whilst encouraging children and their families to hop, skip, jump and wiggle together on my illustrated playground. Designing the game was a real challenge, I planned my ideas to a smaller scale and then imagined people using them. While imagining I would use my fingers to pretend they were the feet of people playing the games, that’s when the light bulb moment arrived! Fun for Fingers! was born! Fun for Fingers! is an interactive picture book for the whole family to play together. It’s about active reading, about breathing new life into your bookshelf and most importantly, it’s about having fun!

Q: How did your ideas for activities develop into book form? What is the overall aim of these games and how can they benefit players?

A: It has been a pleasure to coordinate and deliver activities for families throughout my career. I’ve always been interested in how play develops creativity and innovation and I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of play to connect people and nurture relationships. When researching for this book I observed thousands of children and their families playing together. Within this time I realised how important it is for children to develop their fine motor skills. Small children need to practice the use of their hands for all kinds of activities, from grasping a pencil to catching a ball to tying their shoe laces or typing on a computer. Children need their little hands and fingers to be strong and coordinated. So, I began to plan this interactive book of play to encourage children to wake their fingers up. Following the Outdoor Games at The Southbank Centre I created ‘Finger Finale’ which would become the final pages of my debut book. The rest of the pages of this book were the result of a lot of research and development. I looked at different lines that fingers could follow and respond to such as a very fast zig zag line for Finger Race! And a squiggly tightrope line for Finger Tightrope! I then started to think of team games such as Finger Football! and Finger Piano! It is also important for young children to have some quiet time so I created Finger Relaxation! to give children a moment of reflection. There is a lot of love and thought gone into the pages of this book, I want them to be read aloud, to be performative and get the whole family jumping, skipping and dancing together, I just hope it works!

Q: Were there any particular age groups you were targeting when you were designing the book? Do you think it’s important for children to have activity books and more tactile games to occupy themselves with the prevalence of technology today? Has the current pandemic increased the need for activity books like this one?

A: Fun for Fingers! is aimed for 3-8 years olds (perfect for reception, year 1 and year 2), an age group that most of my work has been focussed on. I have also worked with SEND communities and I am confident in the book’s ability to be accessible and inclusive for all. During the lockdown period we have doubled and sometimes tripled our online usage. I’ve seen parents struggle to keep their children entertained and educated.

I’ve seen children spending an unprecedented amount of time hypnotised by a screen. This is one of the reasons I am so excited about this book. I believe it is very important for children and families to have interactive activity books in today’s hi-tech world! Don’t get me wrong computers and the internet are useful for learning and growing, however, my book provides something wholly different. Books are about pushing the imagination and activity books like mine are the spark to encourage children to create their own pieces of art. It’s about nurturing the imagination together. Direct involvement in reading and hands-on activities will benefit both the adult and the child. There are so many benefits, such as improve concentration; recognition of colour and shape; fine motor development; hand-eye co-ordination; sense of personal accomplishment and probably my favourite is that you learn whilst having fun. We are living through a very weird time where we are spending a lot more time at home and with our close family and friends so it really is important to limit time spent on the computer and spend more time interacting, inventing and playing in real life with real life activities, and activity books are perfect to encourage this play.

Q: What about Fun for Fingers makes it unique?

A: Fun for Fingers! was born out of years of working with children and families, developing the importance of play and developing my aesthetic style. It follows in the footsteps of my heroes Nick Sharratt and Herve Tullet, both masters of the interactive book. However, I hope that Fun For Fingers! is paving its own path in its own unique way. I have yet to find a book as performative as mine, a book that allows you to play on your own as well as with a friend, or a book which is as fun and accessible as mine. The point of my drawings isn’t to distance myself from you, it’s about bringing you closer, making sure every reader realises that they too can be an artist, that they can create games wherever they see fit; from giant games in the garden or local park, to drawn games in the back of an exercise book. Nobody understands and supports play like I do. So have a go, create, invent, play and most importantly have fun.

Q: Has your experience with theatre prop and set design helped you with this book?

A: I have been working in the theatre industry for nearly 20 years. I trained in Theatre Design/Design for Performance at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design graduating in 2004. I started making props and designing sets at several theatres, from The West End, to repertory theatres, to community art venues including working in Wormwood Scrubs prison, women’s refuges, mainstream and SEND schools. And in 2012 I created A Line Art https://www.alineart.co.uk, an interactive art and theatre company with poet-partner Arji Manuelpillai. We specialise in creating interactive playful art events and theatre performances for children, young people and their families. We tour our work to weird and wonderful places all over the UK and across the world, from libraries to schools, from shopping centres to art galleries, from theatres to outdoor spaces.

I’ve always thought picture books are like mini stage sets and the person reading the book is the audience/participant. When you create a set for a stage you have to draw a smaller version of the design and make a miniature model box which always remind me of a picture book. Since creating A Line Art and working and playing with 1000’s of children and families over the years it has given me the passion and inspiration to create playful picture books and activity books. I love seeing families jumping, dancing, wiggling on my illustrative games, laughing whilst having fun together. That’s why I’m so excited to hear about audiences playing the finger games, I want to see pictures of new creative games and I can’t wait to see this grow into a Fun for Fingers! world for everyone and hopefully there will be more to come!