I’ve partnered with book publisher, Saronti, to bring together a collection of stories written for children by children.
It’s called Sunflowers and Nightingales and all the proceeds from the sales will go to charities, such as War Child and Four Paws, helping the displaced people and animals of Ukraine.
Children have been feeling anxious about the war in Ukraine. After such a difficult couple of years, many are still suffering the after-effects of the pandemic. Like us, children feel helpless, anxious and unsure about this terrible atrocity. They may feel like they want to do something, but don’t know what. That’s why, by contributing to this anthology, they can do something positive. We also hope that by reading the stories, we can help others too. The words you read in a book often stay with you for a very long time, especially if they are uplifting and inspiring. That’s what we want to achieve with this anthology.
We asked children aged 7-16 to contribute a story or poem of no more than 800 words or artwork. We were looking for feel-good stories, poems or artwork about achievement, overcoming adversity, kindness, love and humour. In other words, funny or heart-warming, not good versus evil and definitely no violence or war.
It is well documented that writing has a cathartic nature.
It can have a positive effect on mental health. Similarly, reading provides an important source of escapism. Never has there been such a need for this form of mental health support. The pandemic had a huge impact on children. That mental strain continues. It’s now been added to by the current status of the war in Ukraine as well as the rise in the cost of living at home.
Pre pandemic, National Literacy Trust research found that literacy engagement had a direct effect on children’s mental wellbeing. Then during the first lockdown, the charity’s research into literacy revealed the extent to which reading, writing and listening to audiobooks supported children’s mental wellbeing.
During this time, children said it provided a source of calm, escapism and relaxation during lockdown. Reading allowed them to dream about the future. However, for some children and young people, anxiety precluded reading.
Writing creatively during lockdown helped to support children’s mental well-being.
Further research carried out during early 2021 (the third period of national lockdown), found that writing continued to support children and young people’s mental wellbeing. Around 40% of the children and young people interviewed agreed that writing helped make them feel better.
Writing helped some children with anxiety or sadness. It allowed them to express themselves and feel calmer.
Like many of us, I feel helpless when I watch the news. I wanted to do something but I didn’t know what and donating money didn’t seem like enough. Knowing how comforting writing and reading are in times of difficulty, putting together an anthology seemed like the right thing to do. I thought it would be a good idea to give children the opportunity to feel as though could contribute to something that could make a difference. Ultimately, I felt that this anthology should be uplifting so that it could bring joy to not only those who read it but also to those who write the words that will fill it.
We combined the children’s work with stories written by children’s authors, Karen McCombie, Anna Hoghton, Kate Foster, Lou Treleaven, Dan Smith, Glen Blackwell, Rob Keeley and Lizzie Sands (and myself!). It truly is a lovely keepsake collection for a very worthwhile cause.