An NI mother has written and self-published her own series of books to promote children’s well-being.

Emma Hanna (41) from Ballyclare wants to normalize the conversation about mental health problems with children.

The mother of three has been teaching since graduating from university and says she loves “working with children and helping them achieve their goals”.

During lockdown, Emma herself suffered from mental health issues, but says writing helped her.

She told Be: “The book series is called Everyone is Different and there are (at the moment) twelve books. The books are aimed at 4- to 11-year-olds and each covers a different wellness topic, such as shyness. , fear, friendship, bullying, self-esteem and worry.

“As a mother and teacher, the well-being of the children is very important to me. The books are conversation starters that enable parents and teachers to talk about mental health in a simple way. Questions naturally arise as you read the books, such as imagining what it must feel like, have you ever felt that way, etc.

“I chose to write the books during lockdown. I myself suffered from mental health issues and found that writing poems and stories helped me. The idea of ​​’The Shy Monkey’ was the first thing that came to mind.

The collection

“There’s a lot of me in there because I was a shy kid and I felt like I could express how that felt. The other stories followed pretty quickly and the thought that they could actually help improve children’s mental health to normalize really motivated me to keep going, to keep going.

“Connie Duncan, then a student at Ballyclare High School, illustrated the books and I love how she brought the little characters to life. She is incredibly talented.”

Emma described the message behind the books.

“The purpose of the books is to normalize mental health issues and make it easier to start conversations. The books are colorful and easy to read as they are written in four-line couplets.

“So these are nice little bedtime stories – but also very useful resources for the classroom,” she said.

The mother of three also shared how she hopes the books will help.

“I have used the books in and out of the classroom and found that the children relate to the characters. They also encourage the children to think about the issues themselves and find out if they have felt this way or know someone who feels this way.”

“For example, if the children read The Wisest Owl of All, a book about a dyslexic owl, they can talk about relatives or friends with a dyslexic owl and how dyslexic people did not hold him back in life.

“I’ve also created a workbook to go with the books, which encourages the children to dig a little deeper into the stories and the themes covered,” says Emma.

The books

The Ballyclare woman is proud of her collection and said it was a “huge learning curve”.

She said: “It took a few years for the stories to be written, proofread, illustrated, designed, then printed and self-published. It was a long and expensive process, but I am very happy with the end product.

“I have always loved writing poems and posting them on my Facebook page, Pigeon Steps. I wrote a little story about a tooth fairy during lockdown just to raise money for the NHS.

“However, this is the first series of books that I have written and published. It’s a whole new experience and a big learning curve.”

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