Episode 174: Trent Talbot, Brave Books, and Discipling Our Children

In this episode we talk with Trent Talbot, founder and CEO of Brave Books. We discuss the power of books in a child’s life and their books and book club. 

Our Guest: Trent Talbot

Trent Talbot is first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ, which fuels his role as a dedicated father and husband, as well as his newest venture as the CEO of BRAVE books. Once a doctor of ophthalmology, Trent left his career of helping people see better to helping our world see the importance of traditional family values better by founding BRAVE Books. As a visionary with a contagious dedication to his work, Trent’s genius storytelling has created the one-of-a-kind universe called Freedom Island. Trent’s inspiration stems from his wife and three children and a dream that they will grow and thrive in this world with American values as the foundation for generations to come.

Show Notes with Links:

00:10: Introduction and Welcome
00:36 – What is Brave Books?
01:05 – The Fight for Freedom Island
Chaos in the Canopy
02:47 – The sagas
03:23 – The Test of Lionhood
06:00 – discipling our children, building character07:17 – Brave Books Website
09:25 – World View Curriculum
10:44 – Video content releasing summer of 2024
11:03 – Study on the power of reading books
13:43 – Closing
13:54 – TerrieHellardBrown.com

Books Discussed in This Episode:

Transcript:

Terrie:

Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. I am so excited to share with you about our guest who’s here today. Trent Talbot has joined us today, and he is the founder and CEO of Brave Books. Trent, thank you so much for joining us.

Trent:

Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Terrie:

Well, tell us about your company. First of all, what is Brave Books?

Trent:

Brave Books is a Christian publishing company that makes books for kids that reinforce traditional biblical and American values. And our prayer is that Brave Books becomes the brand that Christian parents trust with their children’s imaginations.

Terrie:

And you have a lot of very interesting authors in your company. You’re one of the authors. You’ve written some books. What are some of the books you’ve written?

Trent:

I wrote The Fight for Freedom Island, Chaos in the Canopy… Maybe that’s it. I don’t know, we come out with so many books, so our business model’s a little bit unique for a publishing company. We come out with a new book every month. So we’re a subscription company. I mean, we sell one-off books, but most people subscribe, and they subscribe from the beginning, and every book that we come out with takes place in our universe that we created called Freedom Island, and the subscription’s called the Freedom Island Book Club. And every book teaches a different moral character lesson value that children need to know. So our idea is first and foremost, we just tell great stories that kids love, that’s the first step in teaching children. First, you’ve got to grab their attention, and our books do that with just great stories. Inside these stories is typically a lesson. These stories aren’t preachy, but a lesson is delivered. It could be on hard work, forgiveness, gender, reality, we cover the importance of family, things like that, just basic lessons for kids to know. So yeah, we’ve come out with 27 books. We started in the summer of 2021, and people love that aspect of it in which the stories sort of build on each other. The kids sort of get lost. They fall in love with the world with the characters and the overarching story that we’re telling.

Terrie:

I love it too. You have a map of the island, and it made me think of two things. It made me think of Pilgrim’s Progress and it made me think of C.S. Lewis and Narnia. So I thought immediately when I saw that. My kids love both of those, so they would definitely be drawn to the whole concept of this island and of the adventures. And then you have sagas, right?

Trent:

Yeah. Every 10 books is broken up in a saga, and every saga will have an overarching storyline and theme. So our first 10 books is called The Origins, and that’s where we introduce all of the main characters. We have five main protagonists called Team Brave. We have the legends of Freedom Island, sort of represent the Founding Fathers of America, and then you have the villains like Culture the Vulture and Black Heart. So, Saga One sort of set the stage, Saga Two centered around a lemur called Lester who was just this agent of chaos, then Saga Three, it sort of mirrors social media and outside influences. Every saga will have its own theme.

Terrie:

Yeah, I think that’s cool. And the illustrations are wonderful, and I think that is so important for children’s books that the illustrations really capture the imagination of the child, and you certainly do that with your books. They’re just really well done. I love it. Like I said, you have some interesting authors. Some that people may recognize are Kirk Cameron and J.P. Sears and Kevin Sorbo. That’s pretty awesome. I love that, and that, like you said, they cover important lessons. I love that Kevin did one The Test of Lionhood, and it’s talking about masculinity, and I think that, wow, talk about something we need to talk about today with our kids. How wonderful is that? That’s just amazing.

Trent:

Yeah, boys are beaten down these days and they need to understand that it’s important for them to be masculine and to embrace the fact that they’re a boy and they’re going to be a man, and that there’s a distinct role that comes with that, and there’s ideal characteristics that are fit for that role. So that’s what we pray, that book teaches kids a lot of these topics. There’s a lot to them, and our books are picture books, so you’re a little bit limited in what you can teach through a book, but the way that we structure it with our books is we really just capture the child’s imaginations with the story. Then we use the story as a framework to then help facilitate a conversation between the parents and the kids. So in the back of the books, we have something called the Brave Challenge, in which it’s a set of games and discussion questions to foster a conversation and allow the parents to pass down the beliefs, the values that they hold dear to their kids, because it’s hard to create those conversations on some of these topics naturally, like the importance of family, hard work, sanctity of life, it’s hard to have those conversations with a five-year-old, but it’s important, obviously, to have those conversations, cause we can’t shelter our kids forever. Eventually they’re going to be confronted with some of these ideas that are out there, and it’s so much better for them to first have that conversation with you as opposed to somebody that you as a parent don’t trust. So the way we approach it, it’s not like these books will teach it. The books are just really fun and the kids will love them, but we just sort of help create the atmosphere for the parent to really be the one to have the conversation. For me, when I try to talk to my kids about something that’s a little high level, kids don’t learn like that. They don’t naturally think in conceptual language, which as adults, that’s typically how we talk is through concepts, but they really do learn best through story, so the story serves as that framework to then have that conversation off of.

Terrie:

Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re all about with “Books That Spark,” it’s, the spark is that it sparks those conversations and opens the door for parents to disciple their own kids, to teach their own kids, and to open up the conversations that are difficult to open up otherwise and are sometimes uncomfortable to even open up. So that’s the whole thing behind what we do here, is really talking about that, and I recently wrote a book using general market picture books and wrote devotionals to bring the scripture into those, and opening up conversations with families during that devotional time, and I said, “the parents are the disciples.” I’m not trying to teach and tell you how to disciple your child, that’s between you and God, and you know what your child needs and what they’re ready for and how to best minister to your own child; I just think these books that you’re writing are so wonderful for that very same thing to help parents who know their children best, to know how best to teach and guide and direct them, and really answer questions that come up in the conversations from the children as they think about these different values, these different lessons.

Terrie:

I’m so happy that you have created this company and that it is available out there and that it’s a book club. Like you said, you are a subscription service. Can you tell us a little bit about how that works?

Trent:

Yeah. When you go to BraveBooks.com, that’s where most of like the buttons will go to and you subscribe. It will start you off with our very first book, Elephants Are Not Birds on the topic of gender reality, and then the next month, your kids will get a new book and then the next month, a new book, and they’ll just get a new book every single month, and like I was saying earlier, every book teaches a different important lesson and creates an important conversation between you and your kids. Kids love to get stuff in the mail. We look at emails and comments on social media that it’s the kids’ favorite day of the month whenever the Brave Book comes in, and because they know they’re going to get family time where they’re going to sit in the living room and get to hang out with mom and dad and read a story and then play some games and have a conversation. Our hope is that it creates those moments, that family time that’s so valuable. Our visions for the next 50 to a hundred years, Christian conservative families, when their kids hit three to five, they start subscribing and they get a new book every single month. The subscription is going to have 50 picture books, then the subscription will change to two chapter books a month. One will be a graphic novel, one will be more of a text heavy, traditional kind of what you think of when you think of a middle grade chapter book, and that kids are going to grow up in this world with these characters and the topics, obviously, the reading level will age with the kids, and by the time the subscription ends, you know, when they’re 12, 13, 14, that they’ll be shaped in a very positive way from a morality worldview standpoint, and that it’ll really be a blessing for them as they get closer to going out on their own as they get closer to being exposed to what the world has in store for them.

Terrie:

Yeah. Well, I think it’s wonderful. Because I remember as a child, of course, Scholastic was more trustworthy and they had their monthly club, and I couldn’t wait to get that book each month. That was so much fun. I still have a lot of those books in my library and a few of my sister’s wound up in my library too, but we won’t talk about that. But anyway, I don’t know of any other subscription services today that are focused on Christian values, so I think that you’re really fulfilling a need that we have today in the school system as well as in homeschooling, so I think that’s wonderful.

Trent:

Yeah. One thing for the homeschool moms that we’ll be releasing in January of 2024 is a biblical worldview curriculum that will actually be included for free as a download that goes along with Saga One. Our hope is that over the next 6 to 12 months, we turn the Freedom Island Book Club into just an absolute no-brainer for every homeschool family to where you’re almost like saving money while, while giving your children just an incredible adventure that sparks their imaginations, takes them on a journey, and not only in a safe way, but in a way that builds a foundation of solid character. That’s our mindset, like our target market, the people that we’re really building out the subscription for is Christian Homeschool families. Our goal is for it to be an absolute no brainer and just to keep bringing more and more value to the subscription, and we’ve got so many things that we’re working on to do that. So anyway, we’re super excited. We think that this subscription in the next few years is going to be in over 75% of homeschool families.

Terrie:

Yeah. Oh, that’d be wonderful. This will air in January, so what a great way to start the new year with subscribing to this program and having the book come each month. That’s awesome that you’re going to have that extra download for parents for homeschoolers about Christian worldview. I love that.

Trent:

Yeah. Hopefully in the summer of 2024, we’re going to have a lot of video content that will be exclusive to our subscribers. So we’re super excited about the direction of Brave Books and especially the value that we’ll be bringing homeschool families.

Trent:

I came across this study. There was 140 undergraduate students who were asked to read either Twilight or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone for 30 minutes. That’s it. Readers of a few chapters of Harry Potter rated themselves higher than other people in their ability to move things with their mind, like telekinesis, and readers of a few chapters of Twilight believed their teeth were longer than the general population, obviously vampires, so what this tells us is that when you read a story, you’re transporting into another world. You identify with the character, you take on their reality, you take on their identity, really, and the ability of stories to persuade and change our identity and our beliefs is really hard to fathom. Way more so than TV and movies. The books that are children read, the characters that they read about and identify with really, really matters, and it’s something that we all know, but I don’t think we appreciate it nearly enough as it warrants to be considered.

Terrie:

Wow, I had not heard of that. That is unbelievable. That’s a really powerful way to understand how influential books are in our children’s lives, and you know, if we watch a movie or something, it’s not as personal as when we pick up a book and we’re reading it and we’re drawn into that whole world, that whole story, and it becomes a part of who we are, and that’s terrifying with the stuff that’s out there now. I’m so glad you shared that. Thank you, for sharing that. That’s really amazing. If you have the link to that, put that in the show notes. I would love to have that as a source. Parents could access as well, and we’ll have, of course, all the links to the Brave Books website and how to sign up and everything with that. If you have any questions or anything, you can certainly ask and we will respond. You can always put a comment or question on our blog for this episode, and we will get back to you. We will answer your questions, we always do, so feel free to ask any questions, but if you’re not aware, there is a battle out there for our children, and books are so powerful and we need to just be diligent and be aware as parents to help our children navigate these waters and to help disciple them well. Okay, well, Trent, thank you. I appreciate the information you’ve given us. I’m so excited for what God is doing through your ministry, through your publishing company. I read on your website that you used to be an ophthalmologist and now you’ve given that up to do this ministry. That’s kind of fun.

Trent:

Yeah, it has been fun. It’s been a learning experience and a whirlwind, but yeah, I’ve really treasured these past three years of doing this. I’m very glad I made that decision. It’s been incredibly rewarding.

Terrie:

Wow, that’s great. Thank you again so much. I really appreciate your time.

Trent:

Yeah, my pleasure.

Terrie:

Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to grasp those teachable moments sparked by great books and to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share on social media so people know we are here or leave comments on one of the podcast host sites, we truly appreciate you. If you would like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list or comment on TerrieHellardBrown.com. We love to hear from you and we respond to every comment and question. We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

2 thoughts on “Episode 174: Trent Talbot, Brave Books, and Discipling Our Children”

  1. Great interview with Brave Books founder. We need more children’s books that teach our children godly character through great stories. As a children’s writer myself, I’m so disappointed in the picture books that are coming out these days, not only with ungodly content, but stories that have no real depth or value for character building.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. It’s heartbreaking. Our kids deserve better like so many of the books by the authors I’ve interviewed here (Including you!). We have some great books and great authors, but so many promote the books that don’t have good values and depth. We need good story-tellling that is life-giving.

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