Being Me (And Loving It) by Naomi Richards and Julia Hague is a unique resource for educators and parents of children aged 5-11 to instil confidence and resilience across a range of topics such as a lack of body confidence, low self-esteem, friendship issues, bullying, social media and peer pressure.
The book is aimed Teachers, youth workers and educators who are in day to day contact with 5-11 year olds and parents who either want to reinforce the teaching at home with their child or simply use as a tool to help their child with an issue they are facing.
The book has a special place in my heart as I was the peer reviewer who was given the job of advising the publishers whether it should be commissioned. It was a big yes from me so I hope you like it. I asked the authors to tell me a bit about themselves, the book and what they thought you might get out of reading it.
Tell me a bit about yourselves:
Naomi Richards is The Kids Coach, a life coach for children who provides coaching on any behavioural and emotional issue that they have. She coaches internationally, runs workshops for children and adds thoughts on the world of children in the press and on Sky News. She invented The ‘WOW’ board – a self-esteem tool for kids and is the author of ‘Being Me (And Loving It’) Jessica Kingsley Publishing and ’The Parent’s Toolkit’ Random House.
Julia Hague worked in school administration for 16 years and have written since she was 14. Passionate about instilling good body image, self-esteem and confidence in young people and a resilience to bullying. Working on stopping young children from becoming bullies in the first place and currently writing new monologues for women encompassing body image, self-esteem and friendship.
How did you come up with the idea?
We had both always wanted to write a book on friendship issues, self-esteem and body image for primary school aged children and when we met and chatted we realised that we had the perfect combination of writing skills and experience to do it.
What problem is this book solving?
It’s hard to pick just one but in essence young children can so easily grow up with poor self-esteem and body image, confidence and self-belief and they can find it hard to stand up for themselves against bullies. There is so much pressure around them from their peers. They need to be reassured that they are not alone and that there are other children in the same situation as them. This book uses stories to share those situations and provides solutions to each one in the pages of the book.
What is the most important lesson people will learn from reading this book?
That children need to learn to love themselves and appreciate themselves for who they are and by doing so will appreciate others.
What was the hardest thing about developing the content?
The lesson plans and making sure that each one was different and entertaining as well as informative for the children.
How do you imagine the book being used / what impact do you imagine it will have?
In the classroom in PSHE lessons, with smaller groups or by SEN tutors in one to one situations. Parents too would benefit from having a copy to refer to if their school is using it but equally on their own as a tool to talk to their children and bring up subjects that might otherwise prove difficult to talk about. Huge impact because children love to listen to stories and become more engaged. They will also think that person is going through something I am currently going through and they solved it and so can I.
What did you learn whilst you were writing it?
Julia: Developed my passion for writing for children and influencing how they feel about themselves. That creating child characters and being their voices was magical.
Naomi: That there is another great way of reaching children and that telling stories can be so powerful. My writing style has changed and developed and it was fun to be writing for the child and in their language. My first book was written in parent speak.
What are you most proud of?
That we covered so many topics, created so many wonderful real life situations for the children to become engaged with and worked so well as a fantastic writing team.
How did you decide which topics needed to be covered?
We drew up a list from our own experience as mothers and Naomi as a life coach for children and what we knew were the current topics which needed addressing. The publishers looked over them and approved them straight away.
How did you come up with the stories?
We decided on the issues we would address in the book and discussed them together. Julia created a character of the right age and developed a story around them. Once she had written each story Naomi and Julia passed the story between them to make sure the tone and flow was right and that the message they wanted to convey was clear and easy to understand. They then developed the learning outcomes and activities around each one.
Did you test the stories? How?
Julia used her daughter who is 28 but she has a young daughter and she read some of them for me. She also asked her brother in law to read a couple as a parent of an eleven-year-old. Naomi test drove most of them with her friends and her children.
The stories all have a suggested age range, do you think they could be adapted to suit other ages?
Absolutely if the topic is relevant. For instance the puberty ones need to be a certain age group but each story could be adapted for older or younger children.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Julia:- I’m just building up my own fledgling business which is aimed at me going into schools to talk about bullying and self-esteem to children and parents. I’d especially like to talk to the bullies themselves! I also run my own charity fund raising event company which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity in the science fiction community. Yes I’m a geek too which has proved great when talking to young girls who feel different because they like different things than the norm!
Naomi:- I am a mum of two boys – aged 12 and 9 and am a frequent taxi driver for them! I coach children, develop products for families and children and work as a brand ambassador for child-related brands. I run workshops in schools on self-esteem, confidence and friendships mainly and am a media spokesperson on all things children. Life is busy and incredibly varied which I love.
Julia: I’m currently working on writing a book of brand new pieces for young women (older teenagers) on body image, self-esteem and friendship perhaps to go into senior schools and sixth forms. I’m just writing at the moment so I haven’t made any definitive plans for publication etc.
I have a lot of experience of talking to women of all ages and writing for them and so that’s my current writing project. Of course I’d love to write another book with Naomi if we decided to do anything in the future. I’m good at multitasking!
Naomi:-I will be working with a 3rd party to develop a product range for the education market as well as a new campaign for a major brand. As for writing I will be taking a break until I feel I have something new to share. I constantly come up with new ways of working with children and it took me 4 years between my last book and this one!
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