We were kindly sent a copy of Jessica Sanders latest book, the beautifully written and illustrated Be Your Own Man. When it arrived in the mail I had a flick through, and tears instantly sprang to my eyes. This is a glorious read from start to finish, and one that will cement feelings of acceptance within any young man who is struggling to feel ok with himself.
Be Your Own Man invites boys (in fact anyone who reads this) to broaden their ideas about what it is to be a boy, to feel proud of who they are and to feel like they can be anything they want to be. I would encourage boys & men of all ages to get a copy, sit down and take it all in. *All of it!!! Be Your Own Man should be handed out at maternity wards for all families expecting boys, and quotes from it chanted in the halls of all schools.
We’ve become so very good at encouraging girls to reach for the stars, be leaders, mechanics, engineers and soldiers. We reassure our daughters that girls can be who they want to be, they can strive for greatness; but for our boys, being strong and getting to the top is mostly just expected. Be Your Own Man is such a refreshing change to the selection of ‘boy books’ available, it’s a ‘Be Your Own Man’ guidebook, a life journal and a bible for boys to live by.
I highly recommend you purchase 10 copies of this book and give them out to every boy you know, it has to be the Number 1 gift for boys! It’s not only a conversation starter for our little guys and their caregivers, it’s a page by page realisation that “I am ok”, “I am normal” “I want to be like this”, “I can be me”, “my body is ACE” which ultimately turns any reader into a happy, life loving, young man, who treats himself and others in the best way he can.
In a world where men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, and who are far less likely to ask for help, it’s time we allowed and encouraged our boys to be who they are, and not who we expect them to be.
When you’re tucking in your little man this evening, when you’re giving those last kisses of the day, the last hugs before he falls asleep, remember to whisper: “You are one of a kind, there’s absolutely no one else quite like you, and that’s amazing!”
I have to mention the RAD illustrations in Be Your Own Man as they really capture everything this book is about. Robbie Cathro is a British (*Yay*) illustrator from Bristol, and is well worth a follow! Think “illustrator that our kids will grow up with and think fondly of when they share his illustrations with their own kids!!!” THAT GOOD!!
Be Your Own Man was gifted to my son, however as always, these words are my own and honest opinion. Liv xx
Drowning is preventable yet it is the third largest cause of accidental death worldwide. The 2019 Royal Life Saving Drowning Report records that 276 people drowned across Australia. Additionally, 584 people experienced non-fatal drowning that can lead to lifelong medical complications. Staggeringly, 42% of these were children aged 0-4!
Whilst community education has been identified as essential to help prevent drowning not all children are able to access surf education! As a surf lifesaver with an early childhood background Louise understands how powerful a safety message conveyed through storytelling can be!
Louise’s journey to print has been a long and emotional one motivated by a terrible tragedy that could have been prevented:
‘The biggest misunderstandings in surf safety are caused by our lack understanding of the surf environment, the risks and the safety strategies we can put in place before we go to and when we are at the beach!’
‘I wrote ‘Annie and the Waves’ in 2012 just before I went on my first of 4 tours as a Surf Life Saving NSW ‘Beach to Bush’ presenter, educating country primary school children on how to stay safe when they visit the beach. But it took another 6 years to publish the book!’
‘In 2014 my surf club was involved in the search and rescue, that all too soon became a search and recovery, of a 5-year-old boy who drowned at Pearl Beach on the NSW Central Coast. The components of risk were exactly the same that I had written in my story two years earlier…. a moment lapse in supervision, a young child on the water’s edge, a surging wave that swept him off his feet and into the deep water. The difference was that in my story there were strategies in place that ensured a safe outcome.
It made me think; What if my book had been published and this family had read it, could this tragedy have been prevented?
From that moment on Louise was determined to discover how to publish a book … It was a huge learning curve but in November 2018, Annie and the Waves was endorsed by Surf Life Saving Australia and finally published.
The book is now in its third print run there is still so much more to do! Annie and the Waves has been reviewed and endorsed by teachers and librarians and the positive feedback from children, parents and grandparents keep Louise committed to finding ways to provide books to children, early learning centres, schools and libraries.
With a background in research Louise has undertaken a pilot study to investigate whether ‘Annie and the Waves’ increases children’s knowledge of the key safety messages found in the book. She presented the results at the 2019 World Drowning Prevention Conference in Durban South Africa and at the 14th Australasian Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Conference in Brisbane on 26th November 2019.
Louise is also committed to providing alternate book formats to children with disabilities and an audio version is now available.
‘One of my lifesaving roles is as an inclusive nipper buddy working with children of various abilities. It’s really rewarding and a lot of fun. Our Seagull Nippers, who include children on the autism spectrum, love and respond to having ‘Annie and the Waves’ read to them. I have also worked with children with a vision impairment through Guide Dogs ACT and NSW. I want to make ‘Annie and the Waves’ as accessible to as many children as possible including:
People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds as the books simple words and engaging illustrations by Carissa Harris are helpful in explaining beach safety
Children with dyslexia. The font and choice of matt paper for the book was chosen to be dyslexia friendly
Children with vision impairment or a text disability. An audio version is being made especially for them
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who are 160% more likely to drown than a child not on the spectrum! Reading about surf safety in a child’s own home or school before coming to the beach will help to provide a pathway for transitioning to the beach environment
Louise’s wish or goal for Annie’s story
Louise is developing a series of books called ‘Safety by Story’ with the first series focused on water safety.
My goal is to help prevent drowning! There are many reasons people may not access surf safety programs. These include location, access to transport, culture, cost or other challenges. I would love for all Australian children to have access to read ‘Annie and the Waves’, in their home, a local library, their childcare or their school.
But there are also more stories to tell….. in fact I have 6 more water safety story ideas for children aged 0-12 and their parents!
Charlie Golding is a mum on a mission to help children better understand the world we are living in right now. When The World Went Inside is a beautifully written children’s book, perfect for starting conversations with our little ones about life inside a pandemic. Charlie shares her story here xx
It was an ordinary bike ride in an extraordinary time.
At least that was what I was aiming for. If I could get out of the house.My 3 year old clung to the door frame, crying and refusing to leave; as I wrapped him in my arms and felt his heaving wracking sobs against my chest it dawned on me that this was no ordinary tantrum. This kid was frightened. As I held and shushed him, he finally started to talk. As the mumbles became more coherent it dawned on me what was going on. And with that realisation came a bolt of ice through my heart.
He was scared of COVID-19.
At just 3 years old he was unable to discern between a virus which he could manage and control, and a monster which was hiding behind the bushes, just waiting to leap out and grab him!
This was March 2020, and COVID was just starting to get real in Victoria.
I had missed the memo about Doomsday prepping. In February I was living my best life as a working Mumma to three glorious dirtbags. I simply popped my proverbial fingers in my ears every time someone mentioned the dirty C-Word. Whilst I definitely enjoyed the virus memes and toilet paper jokes, all of that was safely contained within the internet. I was living in the real world – and it wasn’t going to affect me.
And then one day I walked into the supermarket and came eye ball to eye ball with a terrifying figure in a full HAZMAT suit and gas mask. I looked around me and the aisles were empty. My core chilled and I wanted to cry. Except I couldn’t, some bastard had just made off with the last box of tissues.
Suffice it to say that I didn’t handle the start to COVID well. However, as I sat in my hallway holding my sobbing baby boy, I realised that whatever I did next – I had to aim higher for the kids.
At this stage of the crisis very little existed to help children understand COVID-19. Hell, there was very little out there for the adults. But I dug deep and came up with a Tumble Science podcast. The kids reacted enthusiastically and we listened to it again and again. They loved the science behind it – learning how the virus had mutated and where it came from meant something to them.
But you can’t cuddle up with a Podcast. In our family we use bedtime stories as a springboard to deeper conversations; I’ve used fictional books to cover topics on history, sex, gender, race and equality. The story never covers everything there is to talk about but provides a baseline that propels the conversation forward. Naturally, my first instinct had been to go looking for a friendly family text; but being so early in the pandemic one didn’t yet exist.
Believe me, my immediate reaction was not to put my hand up to write one! I had a job, and a family and a crisis to deal with, after all! However, COVID-19 was dominating our conversations. I realised that the more we spoke about it, the more reassured we all felt. I communicate openly, it comes as second nature to engage children in honest yet challenging conversations. However, my locked-down friends were telling me that they weren’t sure how to have these talks. How much information to provide and what to withhold? After all, what information do little brains need? Can we damage inherent innocence by laying it all out too honestly?
My experience tells me that children will only absorb what they are ready to hear. If you talk confidently and provide facts reassuringly then you can trust kids to take from that conversation what they need.
It’s an illustrated book for children that emerged from our lived experience. It’s a powerful story told simply, written with the hope that children would see their own experiences mirrored within the pages and feel less alone.
Hot on the heels of this global health crisis, is a mental one. There’s a lot that 2020 has asked of our little ones – from stopping and starting school, to living life as never before. Thankfully, they’re resilient little critters.
Every time I hear from a parent or teacher about their child’s reaction to the book, my heart soars. Parents we’ve got this!!!
The creative world has stepped up and there’s now a toolkit of resources out there to help guide your conversations with your children; maybe my book will be one of them. However, my purpose for writing this is to plead with you to prioritise your mental health, whatever that looks like. Our children need us happy, healthy and whole. With us standing strong by their side they’ll continue to thrive, no matter what the world has in store.
Learn how to stay safe and keep having fun in a world with COVID-19. This fun and beautifully illustrated book is best for kids aged 3-10 years old. If you’re parenting in a pandemic then join in the chatter in the socials!
I’m always thrilled when people buy books as gifts for my children. There is nothing better than a great book to spark a child’s imagination and boost their love of reading. Here are some of our new favourites from Walker Books Australia.
My Mama || Annemarie van Haeringen || $16.99
A naughty elephant tells all about his mother in this lovingly drawn story. Parents and children will both delight in and recognise this gorgeous mother–child relationship—if not for the same reasons.
Since reviewing their first novel ‘Being Brave’ I have been following Sema & Hester’s journey and sharing their 1st book with all my friends who have daughters. I got to chat to the ‘Being Brave Girls’ this week, and asked them for their advice on how we can encourage our daughters to be brave during these uncertain times.
The Being Brave Girls
Hester Leung and Sema Musson are the co-authors of Being Brave and Being Brave Too, middle grade novels and personal development guides for girls on being brave. These books are inspired by their friendship and their daughters’ friendships.
The inception of our series began through the many years of talking about everything and anything. Our daughters are friends, and so we became friends! We have shared our life stories and struggles, from parenting to being working mothers, from stressors when we were growing up to relationships now. Therefore, our friendship led to the creation of Being Brave.
At the time of writing our second book Being Brave Too we find ourselves in quite unusual times. It’s like a parallel universe. We are in a world of social distancing. We are all at home. We are working from home. Our daughters have been schooled from home. We have replaced our weekend catch-ups with virtual coffees and lots of phone calls and messages. When before we looked forward to seeing each other on Saturdays at our daughters’ sports, we now look forward to connecting in a totally new way, more than ever needing to support each other in a most unusual year.
Social media becomes more pronounced as we think about what our new normal will be – one where we interact more online, where social media has an increased role for connecting with friends. We want to equip girls to manage the use of these tools positively. Our second book focuses more on this theme.
During this time we discovered that we need to remain soft and strong. We need to remain kind to others and be confident that everything is going to be okay. We need to stop the negative self-talk, that little voice inside that tells us we can’t do something or that we will fail if we try.
Here are our top five tips to help all the mums and daughters who need a little support on being B-R-A-V-E at this time.
Breathe — Breathing helps calms your mind and is a good way to relax. Try this simple exercise. Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand below your rib cage. Breathe in and count to 4, hold for 4 and breathe out for 4. Feel your tummy expand as you breathe in and shrink as you breathe out.
Relationships — Family and friendships are so important. They support and encourage you in times of joy and distress. They can give you a little confidence boost when you need it most. Give someone special a call today or send them a message to check in with them.
Affirm — Positive affirmations are statements that can overcome that little negative voice on your shoulder. When you repeat them and believe in them they can help you to make a productive change. Try these — I am kind, I am capable and I am worthy.
Visualise — What is the best thing that could happen? How would it feel? How would it sound? Using positive visualisation makes it easier to achieve your goals. In your mind it will be as if you’ve done it before! It makes your goals much more familiar and achievable.
Energise — Do what you love. For each of us, there are things that bring you energy and those things that zap your energy away. Find those things that fuel you and bring them into your day.
Sending you a little bit of hope and motivation at this time. We see you and we’re here for each other.
The Being Brave Book: A novel & guide about finding courage and strength by Sema Musson and Hester Leung.
I have recently enjoyed this delightful book with my 11-year-old daughter, who herself has moved schools and walked, in many ways, in the shoes of the main characters. Not only did it encourage us to discuss the power of positive thinking, but also started conversations on the importance of being determined, brave, honest, imaginative, and best of all, kind. Lessons that we could all take on board and talk to our children about a little more frequently.
‘Ellie and Alyssa have been best friends since pre-school. One chatty, one shy, one adventurous, the other considered, one Australian, one with Chinese heritage, both supportive and giving. It’s easy together. Then they change schools.’
Being Brave is a novel and personal development guide for young girls with themes on self-esteem and resilience. It’s the first novel/guide we have read and I’m glad we did!
We are all aware of the challenges children face while growing up, but it’s stories like this that teach us all how to put one foot in front of the other regardless of how big the climb! It’s an important read for youngsters as it confirms their feelings are not out of the ordinary, and therefore they’re not alone.
Please grab a copy and join Ellie and Alyssa on this important journey through the everyday pressures of school and family life in this all-Australian girls’ adventure story, where girls triumph and the main characters reflect Australia’s wonderful ethnic diversity.
Get a copy, cuddle up with your girl, and take some time out to enjoy the togetherness whilst learning some positive personal development tips!
No matter how hard to try to ignore it, there’s no denying that Christmas is well and truly on it’s way. It’s time to stop pretending you have ages to get sorted. The kids are almost down from their much hated Halloween high, and I for one am totally ready to get the tree up and start singing “Do they know it’s Christmas” at anyone who walks past.
Let’s take a moment to think about what Christmas entails. The frantic search for this years most popular toy, the dash round the shops to get the precious ingredient that Jamie Oliver absolutely insists you have with your turkey this year, not forgetting the outdoor Christmas show in 42 degrees of heat…(down under anyway).
Buy the tree, sort the gifts, hunt wildly for the sticky tape, wrap the gifts, try and find out which bloody bulb is broken and stopping the Christmas tree lights from working.. Oh, and did you really forget to send Aunty Marg a card??????
However Christmas rolls in your house, I’m here to take a bit of the pressure off!
I have done a really clever thing, and put together a list of totally awesome books that you absolutely must buy for your kiddos this year.
Buying your child a book, not only makes you feel like an awesome parent who positively encourages reading, but it also gives your child an experience which can be shared with others, time and time again. Reading not only creates a strong bond between parent and child, it also has many benefits including building confidence, and enhancing a child’s imagination. You see why buying a book this Christmas is a great idea. It’s the gift that really does keep on giving!
Nearly nine in 10 children say they love being read aloud to a lot, with the main reason being that it is a special time with their parents. – Scholastic
The Wilson’s Top Christmas Books
Judy Moody and the right Royal Tea Party by Megan McDonald
Another day. Another mood. Meet Judy Moody at her moodiest-best, in this laugh-a-minute fourteenth adventure in the international bestselling series. If you have fans of Jacqueline Wilson then this is a great book to add to the bookshelf. It’s funny, a little bit silly, and a great easy reader (7+) for bedtime giggles.
Bab Sharkey and the Animal Mummies: The Giant Moth Mummy (Book 2) by Andrew Hansen & Jessica Roberts
Can Bab and his smelly friends defeat this ancient evil? You what?? My thought’s entirely… This doesn’t sound like the most delightful book, but let me tell you, it’s worth a read! If your little readers love comics, gross stuff, and insanely wacky characters then add this to Santa’s list. *super Santa award heading your way!
Where’s Wally? The Spectacular Spotlight Search by Martin Handford
We love ‘Where’s Wally’ in our house, I have been known to flick through these on my own! This is Wally like you’ve never seen him before! Use the paper spotlight searcher as a magic torch to illuminate the six spectacular scenes in this book, and there are bonus games on every page! That means hours of entertainment! Kids get to turn the pages and search six spectacular darkened scenes! By using the paper spotlight searcher inside as a magic torch they will reveal Wally and his friends. Each scene contains all five classic characters plus bonus hidden content. This is a great book for old and new Wally fans!
**All light-up magic is designed from paper, and extra spotlight searchers are available to print from online, no batteries necessary.
Dragon Post by Emma Yarlett
Who wouldn’t want their child to read a fiery story about friendship and asking for help? And as if that’s not enough, this is being hailed at ‘The Jolly Postman’ for a new generation! Hurrah! The JP was one of my all time favourites which I have handed down to my little ones. I’m hoping Dragon Post will join the bookshelf that my kids hand down to theirs. Love the little letters!!
One day Alex finds a dragon living under his stairs. He isn’t sure what to do – but luckily he knows just who to ask for help. Open the envelopes and read the hilarious letters Alex receives from the fire brigade, the butcher and more as he tries to take care of his new friend. Who would have thought having a dragon for a pet would be so tricky? – Walker Books
Among kids aged 6–8 whose parents have stopped reading aloud to them, half wish their parents had continued – Scholastic
Discovery Globe- Build Your Own Globe Kit – Leon Gray
For all of you parents out there with kids who love to build things, here’s a kit to make your own spinning globe! How awesome does that sound! This is the ultimate gift for families who love to travel, and who’s children have all sorts of questions about the world! This kit comes with everything you need to build your own spinning globe plus plus an illustrated explorer’s guide packed with information, providing a unique introduction to our world.
Make your own globe and discover more about the people and places on it with this stylish kit, containing all the pieces for an easy-to-make spinning model plus a highly-illustrated explorer’s guide. The sturdy card globe features icons labelling everything from natural wonders to famous faces, topics which can then be explored in more detail in the explorer’s guide. As well as referring closely to the model globe, the explorer’s guide covers a variety of themes including the Earth’s biomes, animals and World Heritage sites, providing a fascinating introduction to the world, its people and places – Walker Books
•Publisher’s note: adult assistance recommended when building globe.
Reading is so great for your kids because amongst other great benefits it:
Enhances their imagination
Improves their grammar
Improves their writing skills
Leads to academic success
Helps them build their self confidence
Expands their vocabulary
Discipline and increased concentration
Go on, buy a book this Christmas and give the gift of reading to a child you love!