Our “Bushfire Through My Heart” project has been featured on Essential Kids. See link here.
Press Release – 17.January.2020
Bushfire and Children’s Mental Health
Bushfires: How a little start-up is encouraging children to share their experience and heal the emotional wounds through art.
Saci Books, a little Sydney based publishing company that is passionate about giving voice to kids, has opened up space on their website and social media accounts for children to express what the bushfires mean to them.
Maíra Metelo, the founder of Saci Books strongly believes children must be heard. “I want children to have a voice, I want them to know that age doesn’t define the quality of their ideas.” She speaks with merit, her eldest son wrote a book when he was only 4 years old, she noticed that her son’s story had such incredible thinking patterns regarding complex topics like empathy and the environment that she did not flinch and decided to publish it. “I couldn’t let this one fade in time or build up on the pile of drawings and stories at our house”. Just over one year after being published, the book sells well and it gets great response from parents, educators and, most importantly, from other children.
“Bushfires Through My Heart” is the name of Maíra’s new project and it is getting a heartwarming response from parents, teachers, psychologists and also the little ones. The project encourages children to send writings, poems, drawings, songs, vídeos and paintings that express what the bushfire means to them. She asks parents not to force the children to produce anything, “The most important thing is that it must come from their little hearts, parents can prompt and suggest them to create something that is to be posted to the fire fighters for example but I beg them not to try to change their children’s stories, nor tell them to make it sound better or polish the writing, make it grammatically correct etc. We will publish the way the stories come to us”. The idea so far is to keep children’s stories on social media, blog and on their website. However, Maira hopes those stories will make it big into a hardcover book one day. She promises that the book will be donate to schools and to each child that participates. “I would never want to make money out of this, the only thing that stops this book from being published is any legal constraints in producing works from children. I am looking into this with a lawyer.”
Maíra was inspired by her niece who wrote a story about their own family holiday bushfire experience while they were isolated in Callala Beach on the 21st December 2019. “We got a knock on the door from a police officer saying all roads were closed and we couldn’t evacuate anymore. There had been no warnings, the fire was just spreading quickly over the roads. It was 5pm and the sky was black and red, it felt as if it was 9pm with fire in the sky. All of us in our family was apprehensive. There were talks and I told the children we could potentially leave before christmas, but they needed to trust me that I would only do that for our safety. The next day, my niece read me a story she wrote before going to bed, and it was about a family losing their father in the fire but the kids kept going on. It was written from such an honest and pure perspective, through the eyes of a child who was trying to make sense of chaos, trauma and the emergency of the situation. I realised how the arts are a powerful vehicle for children to process and express their own experiences.
The australian bushfires this summer have caused unprecedented destruction and loss. It has left an entire nation afraid of losing all the land they have to live and produce food. They saw their fauna and flora burn with potential some extinction. Anxiety, stress, fear have walked hand in hand with gratitude to the kind and generous spirit that every day Australians and the international community has shown. However, that is not enough to heal from the loss of loved ones, from seeing fires burn your house down, from having to keave everythjng behind to flee from danger, see koalas burnt on the side of the road, to not be able to breathe. How do we heal those wounds? How do we help our children heal? Maíra thought that the best way she could help this crisis was focusing on the emotional health of the children who are dealing with it for the past 2 months and will continue to do for the next few years.
“I see so many people donating money and goods, so many people who live close to the fire volunteering and risking their lives that I thought the best way for me to help with my skills was through focusing on the emotional health of these children ”
Maíra has partnered with Marcela Nolasco, clinical psycologist and founder of Little Steps, a family psychology clinic in Sydney Northern Beaches. Marcela is also using her skills and experience to assist in the recovery and wellbeing of children and families affected by the fires. Marcela recommends that offering children a safe space to play and to express their ideas through artistic mediums is a very effective way to help them heal from trauma and adversity.
“Children will be pleased to see they are not alone in their fears, in their gratitude to the fire fighters and people who helped. They will also see that their dreams and aspirations are very similar to other children’s. Creating a sense of belonging and mutual understanding can be very healing to those little hearts who had gone through crisis.” explains Marcela.
People in the urban centres are also affected, of course to a much lesser extent but the smoke, the fear for the country, the sadness for all that is happening has tarnished everyone.
The Internet has the incredible power to connect people by spreading the word beyond their local area. “We are based in Sydney and have received a lot of urban children poems and writings but we have also reached people from the affected towns in NSW and a few from Victoria and Queensland. We want to use this tool [the internet] to make sure that this initiative reaches all communities.”
The project can be accessed by Saci Books website (https://sacibooks.com/bushfires-through-my-heart/) Facebook (/sacibooks) or Instagram @saci.books
You can find details of the medicare bulk-billed sessions on Little Steps website (www.littlestepsychology.com.au/bushfire-counselling-relief-nsw/)
Australia is burning as we all know, the stories are being build by the thousands each day. So many stories. So many experiences. So many triumphs and so many losses. Children. Children see everything through their gentle and kind eyes. Through love and ingenuity. They feel the pain of others. They are suffering. The marks in the souls and sub conscience of these children are eternal. We want their stories to be heard. We want them to help heal others and let none forget the most horrendous summer Australia had.
Stories never die, but they have the power to heal and transform. They have the power to change little by little each of us. These children who are suffering today, may not have a future in this planet. They may never be able to breathe clean air. We, the +25 year olds have the obligation to restore the planet for them. We believe we must tell their stories. This summer will never be forgotten.
We will publish children’s stories on our website, instagram and facebook accounts as they arrive to us and we aim to put together a book with a compilation of these stories about their experience with the bushfires.
Their story can be very short, a paragraph, a poem. You can send an illustration done by your child, their siblings or a friend. It doesn’t need to be illustrated, or it can be just a drawing. However your child prefers to express their experience, is fine. We will collect stories until they stop coming, so whenever your child is ready, send it through via e-mail or instagram direct message @saci.books
I ask you not to force your child to speak up or write. Encourage them to speak about their feelings and experiences. They can be showing their bravery, their fears, the loss, the grief, the joy of seeing kindness and so on. Anything is valid and we won’t edit the stories.
Once the book is done and we are ready to publish later in the year, we will donate all proceeds to rebuild libraries and if the money allows, we will help restore the natural environment lost in the bushfires across VIC, NSW, QLD and SA.
We are in the process of organising the legality of the compensation for the children’s author and we will send you a contract with all terms and conditions prior to publishing.
Send your submissions with the subject BUSHFIRES THROUGH MY HEART to firstname.lastname@example.org
Our hearts are with all the fauna, flora and people that have gone through major trauma and loss.
Thank you for sharing your story,
Maíra & Ewan
Everyone says that having books and reading to kids are important because it connects parents to children, it instigates their imagination, concentration, it helps them develop good communication skills, helps them learn to read and write better and the lost goes on…however, a home library can very quickly break the bank when you try to get all these books at home. Here are some tips on how to ensure to have exciting books at home on a budget:
1. Go to your local library
Sounds obvious but many people forget they can borrow books for weeks on local libraries. If borrowing can be a bit overwhelming, most libraries will sell pre-loved books for cents! We often see libraries selling 5 books for a dollar…bargain!
2. Street library
This is probably one of my favourites. In many cities in the world, the street library movement is having a good deal of attention. It is totally free. All you have to do is to find one and get a book you like, you can either return the book to a street library or put another book in to keep the library alive. You then, keep the book you took for as long as you like. If you are keen, you can register to have a street library yourself or just simply make one! To know more, have a look at our blog post on street libraries.
3. Used books on Amazon, eBay, Gumtree and the alike
You can find board books for 3 dollars or less on these sites, there’s nothing wrong with having used books. So get the title you have been looking for or look at reviews of books you haven’t heard of and make a call on what’s good to spend your coins on. Just remember that shipping can quickly increase the price of the books and make it not a good deal after all.
4. Book swop
Easy one! Talk to a few friends to do a book swop a few times during the year. Maybe swop books at the beginning of every season or every school term. It’s a win!
5. Book as birthday present
There is always a couple of guests that will ask what is a good idea for a birthday present. Unlesss you know the person can afford the dream toy or experience your child wants and you can’t afford it yourself, say books. Even better, mention a specific book or type of book (about numbers, farm animals, a flip the flap book, an Atlas for children etc) or of a particular author. Don’t feel bad about asking for specific presents, as a guest of many children’s birthday party, it is so much easier to get a gift that you know the party-child will like.
6. Car boot sales and local markets
When children outgrow an age group, parents are quick to send away the old stuff and that includes books. So make your way to local markets and keep an eye for car boot or garage sales for some super cheap – if not free – books!
Ebooks might not be something good for very young children but a kindle to a teenager might be a good thing. There are plenty of free ebooks of classic stories and new good quality writters. Do some research on what titles are trending between youngsters and download it for them.
Follow book reviewers, authors, illustrators, publishing houses, teachers, librarians and parents n social media. There are loads of giveaways frequently. Just make sure to follow who has the same interests as you, for example, if your children are 0-5 years old, follow who review books on the same age group. A quick browse through their posts will tell you if they will be helpful to you or not.
9. Go for quality not quantity
It’s better to have a few good books than dozens of badly written or poorly illustrated books.
Sometimes, smaller bookshops have cheaper books than the major stores on malls and main streets. Ask around and see where your friends buy books. Also remember to be in the lookout for seasonal books, for example, christmas books will be cheaper after christmas. Books about mum, dad, halloween, starting school etc will have the marketing flow.
Remember that a library is built slowly, through a few years, it grows, it shrinks….but make sure to have a really nice place to keep your books when you start to collect them. Below, a super simple, stylish and adorable way to display your home library. Library box and photo credit to Le Petit Cadre
Photo credit StreetLibrary.org.au
Why are we obsessed with street libraries? Because they are an ingenious idea and are free. If you don’t know the concept, here it is:
You place a weathertight box outside your house/apartment block and put a few books you are keen to find a new home. Someone will walk past and get a book or leave a book. That’s it! You can always have free books! It’s a movement, a revolution.
We have selected a few examples of Street Libraries around the world to gwt you inspired but make sure you check with your local council appropriate ways of placing them outside your house. It is very likely thst you must keep the box within the boundaries of your block so it doesn’t interfere with accessibility on the footpath.
It’s not only the cities and denser urban areas that are joining in, residents of remote areas benefit greatly as they don’t need to drive far to find a library.
If you don’t live in a house? Speak to your building strata board members to add one to the front of the building. If you still find resistance, think if you can do one at work. Some street libraries are actually indoors at doctors, dentists, therapists rooms receptions, cafes etc. Some street libraries ask for a particular age group books to be dropped in such as the street library at the NeoNatal Care Centre at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown, Sydney.
In an Era of communication and share economy, free books going around neighbours is just sublime. It truly is people taking charge of their community, being respectful and civilised, it’s inclusive, it’s educational, it’s environmentally sustainable. It’s a must in every town, every city, everywhere.
With so many inspirations, what are you waiting for to get your creativity out and build your street library?
Rory’s Story by The Five Miles Press
We all feel a little when a new baby arrives. Rory’s Story shows that even the nicest sibling can be jealous of all the attention a new baby gets from mum and dad. More than a story book, Rory’s Story shows a few good parenting tips for those in the await of a baby. It’s a great family book where we can all understand each other’s feelings from the older child point of view. It is also a great book about friendship..but I will say no more…go figure out for yourself 😉
#baby #babybook #picturebook #picturebookreview #readaloud #newparents #familytime #storytime #mum #mumssupportingmums #siblinglove #instabook #instakids #childrensbooks #littlesteps #littlesteps
Book review of The Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks.
Rhymes, rhymes and ingenious story line! Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks are a wonderful combination! ‘What the ladybird heard’ is an excellent book in so many levels. Illustration, text, story, flow, texture, morals and the list goes on. It also appeals to a broad age group because of all its layers. The young ones will like the colours, textures and sounds of animals, the older children will enjoy the play with the words, the resolution of the story, the different techniques in the illustrations and so forth. A really wonderful present!
#childrensbooks #picturebook #juliadonaldson #familytime #storytime #kidsbooks #lovetoread #lydiamonks #whattheladybirdheard #glitter #illustration
Book review of The Lady Bird Heard by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks.
Rhymes, rhymes and ingenious story line! Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks are a wonderful combination! ‘What the ladybirdheard’ is an excellent book in so many levels. Illustration, text, story, flow, texture, morals and the list goes on. It also appeals to a broad age group because of all its layers. The young ones will like the colours, textures and sounds of animals, the older children will enjoy the play with the words, the resolution of the story, the different techniques in the illustrations and so forth. A really wonderful present!
#childrensbooks #picturebook #juliadonaldson #familytime #storytime #kidsbooks #lovetoread #lydiamonks #whattheladybirdheard #glitter #illustration
There was a time not so long ago in which you needed to either know people to get a break or to do something extraordinary in a particular time where someone in particular was there and this person would ‘discover’ you.
For you to exhibit your paintings, photographs, sculptures; to verbalise your ideas, to express an opinion, you needed someone who believed in your goals, talent, person and they would help you shine. Today, things are different.
Are you a photographer? Take photos and…post it…talk to people on the other side of the world in a matter of seconds. Literally. There’s no need to live with the anxiety of sending a letter in the mail and after 3 months of no response, wonder if the letter was lost or if they have simply chosen not to reply.
Today, I am in total awe with the technology and the possibilities this connected world offers. In less than 3 months, I have my son’s book published and being sold all over the world with a financial investment of less than AUD600. Now a little disclaimer: I’m not counting the infinite work hours I’ve done understanding the process of self-publishing, print on demand and distribution. Neither am I counting the time illustrating or doing the layout and of the book because I know how to do that, if you don’t, you might need to consider a graphic designer but I will speak about that another time. Coming back to my point, fifteen years ago, something like self-publishing would cost a few thousand dollars plus an incredibly difficult and expensive journey to market it to cut even.
Today, his book is available in two languages – I’m bilingual but it wouldn’t be difficult to find a translator to the most foreign of the languages – and the book has had copies alrrady sold in Brazil, England, The Netherlands, South Africa and today; Australia.
This is trully exciting!!! I hope I am managing to give a little boost of motivation into people’s projects.
Painters, illustrators, photographers, inventors, engineers, scientists can fund a project with the common people like you and I. No one needs to get a door open at a gigantic coorporation to accept funding their projects anymore. You don’t need the government to open a library, people create their own library right on the streets from each other homes.
Sure, we all need someone who can give us a great exposure and that is what I’m working on at the moment. However, there is an infinite amount of information and resources online to learn and a vast network of systems and processes that allow the world to be connected in a material form.
I have an incredible faith in this network of people and systems to give voice and wings to spread ideas. So whatever is your expression…look for it and you will find a way to be heard, seen, touched, acknowledged! Now, for perhaps the first time in History, be free!
This book by Anna Shuttlewood for The Five Mile Press is more than perfect. It’s current, it’s progressive, it’s necessary.
Acceptance is the mesaage we got from this book. A wonderful gift that arrived from South Africa and a true sweet story showing children and adults that wanting to be different to try to ‘fit in’ is natural but even better is when we accept who we are and the other one is too. Accepting their true nature is an important step to tolerance and a peaceful world. Children are born without judgment of colour, race, nation…parents, family, friends, movies, books and anything that surrounds a child will shape their concepts of right and wrong into adult life. So making sure they continue to not make judgement of superficial and aesthetic nature of one kind is a giant step to a wonderful future ahead!
In a day like today, where Australia apologises to the aboriginals on sorry day, we must remember that we are friends. Different from one another but with the same rights.
And I don’t need to mention the beautiful illustrations 😁
Well done Anna Suttlewood! I wish this book gets lots of awards and becomes a classic of it’s time. 🥇🏆👏🏻
@annalucymeg #spotandstripe #childrensbooks #instakids #familytime #love #tolerance #acceptance #startreadingearly #family #weareallone #bookreview #bookworm #readmoreinmay #sorrydayaustralia