Recently, Reverend Susan Pickering from the Uniting Church let us know about some YouTube clips she’d created of her reading a series of children’s books.
The list of books she read included two Innovative Resources classics, Captain Grumpy (written by Russell Deal and illustrated by Sue Jenkins) and The Wrong Stone (written by Russell Deal and illustrated by Ray Bowler).
Susan generously agreed to talk to us about her project. We started by asking Susan to tell us a bit more about herself.
‘I’m married with two daughters and three grandchildren and I was ordained as a minister in the Uniting Church in 2009. I’ve served in congregations since, except for a short break in 2017 when I worked as the program manager for the Victim Support Unit in the supreme and district courts. Prior to ministry, I worked in the field of disability.’
Susan said that she’s always been fascinated by the power storytelling can have on both a personal and societal level. In her various roles, she has heard many people’s stories.
‘I’ve spent my life working with people and learning that all people have their own stories, journeys of joy and sadness, barriers and open pathways. I’ve been committed to social justice, for as long as I can remember and have volunteered overseas, on committees working for the prevention of domestic violence, advocating for people seeking asylum and refugees, for marriage equality, the list goes on.’
Susan sees this project as a way to provide children and families with something meaningful and positive to focus on during these strange and unsettling times.
‘I love reading children’s stories—reading to children is fun—but more than that, it enriches their lives and opens their minds, providing them with new skills and understanding.
‘At this time in particular, with COVID-19 causing so much fear and anxiety, stories can help create calm. They can equip children to deal with some of the feelings and emotions that are displayed through the characters in the stories.’
She decided to include Captain Grumpy and The Wrong Stone as they explore themes and ideas she believes all children can relate to.
‘Captain Grumpy, well, it’s a story that I think connects with us all. We all have dreams and sometimes fulfilling those dreams can seem near on impossible and can also leave us feeling quite miserable.
‘Initially Captain Grumpy’s grumpiness is a strength but eventually it lands him on an isolated island. It’s during that time he realises he can live his dream, not perhaps as he initially wanted but he ends up creating art in different ways and ultimately finds his joy – it’s a story of journey, challenge and discovery.
‘The Wrong Stone—who hasn’t at some point felt that they don’t fit in, that they don’t have a place in the world? Being different can leave kids feeling alone and sad. This book celebrates diversity, acknowledging that we are all different, each with our own quirks and strengths. The story identifies the loneliness and anxiety that kids sometimes experience and ultimately celebrates the unity and inclusion of all.’
Susan has already had some positive and encouraging feedback on the clips and she has a few other suggestions for how we can support children while we are at home.
‘One great piece of feedback I got was from an 8-year-old who had decided to write their own story and video it. I also got a couple of comments that people had used the online story for their children because their life had been thrown in the air a little.
‘I think interactive online activities that touch on the issues that are raised in books like Captain Grumpy and The Wrong Stone are going to really help children navigate this time of isolation. I think any engagement around empathy, fear, uncertainty and for some kids, death, will be a real support to them. Helping kids to acknowledge how they are feeling is the best thing we can do right now.’
Susan believes that sharing stories can build understanding, trust and ultimately, a better world.
‘I dream of a world that welcomes diversity and recognises how our differences can actually enhance and enrich our lives. We are all part of a larger narrative and when we recognise that I believe our lives can flourish.’
Softcover, 32 pages, 210mm x 280mm
Product Code: 6075
RRP: $24.50inc gst
The Wrong Stone
Softcover, 280mm x 210mm, 32 pages
Product Code: 6050
The Stones value pack
Value Pack contains:
Stones …have feelings too! Cards (3900)
Stones …have feelings too! Stickers (3950)
The Wrong Stone (6050)
Pocket of Stones (0700)
Product Code: 1009
RRP: $92.55 inc gst