Did you hear me on the radio?
Occasionally I have the privileged of going on the radio to talk about my work. I was booked to go onto a special show this week taking place in the book archives of Reading University. I’d been asked to talk about my memories of Ladybird books (as they’re celebrating their 100th birthday this year). They also wanted to know about my books and experiences of being an author.
Unfortunately due to technical issues, they had to change the show at the last minute and couldn’t include my section. Although this is disappointing, it’s completely understandable; these things happen on live shows.
In order not to waste my answers and to give you an idea of what I was going to talk about, I thought I’d share it in a post. So, here are the three key questions topics I would have been discussing…
What I do and why I got into writing for children
I am the author of a series of books called “The Feelings Basket”. The books help young children (ages 5 – 8) understand their feelings and how to deal with them in different situations The series includes: Starting a new School, Bullying, Arrival of a New Sibling and Parents Separating. The next book, out this quarter deals with bereavement. (www.feelingsbasket.co.uk)
I’m also an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) coach and therapist and spend a lot of time working with children and parents. After a particularly challenging time in my life where I had to work through some buried feelings, I came up with the idea of The Feelings Basket. I imagined what it would be like if feelings were friends that could just sit and chat with us. This idea coupled with a course in creative writing, gave me to tools I needed to start writing. Stories are a really important concept in NLP as they engage all aspects of our senses (a good story will create a picture, enhance sound and evoke feelings). Our senses influence which information we choose to store and use in our memory and which we choose to forget or change. Using stories in therapy allows children to better understand their actions without discussing the details of their specific issue.
The importance of reading to children and the role of books
I’m extremely lucky as my mum read to my brother and I every night. I’ve grown up finding reading very relaxing. Reading with mum was a very special time that developed our bond as well as helping improve my literacy skills. I believe that parents have the biggest influence on a child with regards to early years learning. By the ages of 5 – 7 children have an expressive vocabulary of 3000-5000 words. This according to Hart and Risley, 2006, comes predominantly from child/parent reading and child/parent interactive conversation.
As I mentioned, I’m a great fan of stories to help children understand the world around them and how they fit into it. Books also give children the opportunity to escape to another world. They provide the backdrop to open their mind to ideas and concepts that would otherwise be closed to them. Who wouldn’t want to experience the delights of Narnia through the back of a wardrobe?
My early memories of the Ladybird books
I, like many children of my age grew up with the Ladybird books. My brother and I would frequently read the traditional stories – Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Billy-goats Gruff etc. I also remember some I’ve not heard of for many years, for example: The Enormous Turnip & The Elves and the Shoemaker (I remember reading these books so many time). We had many of the more factual books too, I remember Garden birds, Alfred the Great and a book about London. My Nanna also used to have a stack of them in her spare room. When my cousins, brother and I would stay over at her house, we used to make tents in the bedroom and take it in turns reading the stories by torchlight. We’d also be munching on our midnight feasts (the food would only usually last until around 9.30pm!)
When asked to go onto the show, I looked up Ladybird books. There are so many books I’d forgotten about that have given me even more lovely memories from my childhood. Seeing the covers of the Nursery Rhymes, Snow White & Rose Red and “Play with us” has taken me back some thirty plus years.
Do you have any favourite memories of Ladybird books? Let me know.
Debbie K is the author of the Feelings Basket series of books, an NLP4Kids coach and the founder of the Confidence Builder Club, an online resource for parents dedicated to building confidence in their children. Find out more information about the Confidence Builder Club here.