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READ WRITE INSPIRE. Welcome to my Words, a place devoted to making Reading and Writing for children more Inspired.


Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Creating Creative Writers - An Amazing Opportunity


Part of a children's author's job is to conjure up worlds and situations that give children reasons to read and wonder. If we do our jobs well, their imaginations expand to bursting, so much so, many are compelled to want to create themselves. Most are natural born scribes but for those who want to delve deeper into the mysteries of marvellous-story writing, their first port of call is often their teacher or librarian.

That is why it's imperative for these custodians of stories to understand exactly what makes them more real than real life.

Queue Amazing Opportunity for Teachers and Librarians.
I want to let you know about a one-day PD conference on 26 February 2019 at the State Library of NSW. It’s called Creating Creative Writers and will bring together teachers, librarians and 21 of Australia’s finest children’s authors and illustrators to focus on practical activities to develop enthusiastic, confident young writers. 

The speakers include Tim Harris, Sarah Davis, Sandy Fussell, Jodie Wells-Slowgrove, Sally Murphy, Stephanie Owen Reeder, Gina Newton, Libby Hathorn, Lesley Gibbs, Deborah Abela, Claire Saxby, Susanne Gervay, Liz Anelli, Meredith Costain, James Foley, Sue Whiting, Yvette Poshoglian, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, Dimity Powell 😁, Alexa Moses and Corinne Fenton.
The day will contribute 5 hours of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Registered PD addressing 6.2.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Bookings are open now but payment can be made up until Feb 20, 2019. Use the code PayFeb2019 to register now and pay later.

You can find the program and all the details here.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

The Magic of Reading Aloud


About six years ago, I launched my first book, PS Who Stole Santa's Mail? I was a consummate newbie to the book launching game and filled my presentation time (and my audience's ears) with platitudes of gratefulness and incredulity. However, there was one point I did linger on ... the joy of hearing a book read aloud.

For me, listening to story time on Play School is still one of the purest joys on earth. To hear another human's voice relay 'the flow of language', slowly unveiling a story you can't wait to hear the ending for is indescribably soothing and fulfilling. I think this is because from the inception of speech, it is something that we have been conditioned and accustomed to.

I'd forgotten how good this made me feel until I was lucky enough to listen to a teacher librarian read a clutch of picture books to a group of children I was conducting the Read Up program with at the time. Again, hearing the rise and fall of a human voice bring the words alive enhanced the story experience. I only had to look at the children's entranced faces to know that they were feeling the same way, making the same profound auditory, sensory, magical connections.

As Kate DiCamillo proclaims in her opinion on reading aloud:
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/kate-dicamillo-on-the-magic-of-reading-aloud?fbclid=IwAR3FJ-vUMpVDyuv3aPUpID7RkdqPjM-6QiUj74Aa4aPObgvybBFE6qYmlds

'Reading aloud ushers us into a third place, a safe room. It's a room where everyone involved, the reader and the listener, can put down their defenses and lower their guard. We humans long not just for story, not just for the flow of language, but for the connection that comes when words are read aloud. That connection provides illumination. It lets us see each other.

When people talk about the importance of reading aloud, they almost always mean an adult reading to the child.

We forget about the surly adolescent and the confused young adult and the weary middle-aged and the lonely old.

We need it too. We all need that third place, that safe room that reading out loud provides. We all need that chance to see each other.'


I coudn't agree more.

Listen to Kate and read the full transcript, here.

And please, please read aloud to someone or even yourself, today.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

White Ribbon Day 23 November 2018

Two BIG days occur in the month of November: White Ribbon Day 23 November and the United Nations UNiTE to End Violence against Women: 25 November. Both aim to create societies where women and children can live in safety free from fear and abuse. 

AT THE END OF HOLYROOD LANE is a picture book that dares to address this fear and provide acknowledgement and hope for suffers in abusive situations. 

With its soft, supportive illustrations that encapsulate and extend the sensitive, subtle text superbly, and endorsed by a number of agencies concerned about the children caught in the middle of domestic violence such as Act for Kids, RizeUp, Paradise Kids, and Think Equal, this is a conversation starter that may bring a lot of comfort, help and hope to the children in our care. Barabara Braxton, ReadPlus & The Bottom Shelf


I wrote this picture book because of a plea to create meaningful stories accessible to children suffering or witnessing family violence. The task became a challenge and ultimately one of the most fulfilling stories I've ever had the pleasure of penning. But much more than writing something that I'm proud of and gives domestic violence victims some small voice, this book has become a conduit of caring.

I try to explain some of the unforgettable connections I've made through sharing Holyrood Lane with others in the post - Profound Encounters along Holyrood Lane

Complete strangers feel compelled to share their stories with me, as though confessing their true thoughts and fears with someone who has tried to echo these through the non-judgmental, fictional Flick somehow lessens them. In a way, I guess it does. Sharing a problem, reaching out, acknowledging the hurt, amassing the courage to move forward - all are powerful ways to help achieve the ultimate goal of creating caring, informed, pro-active communities where women and children can live in safety
  
It's not a book about having all the answers. No way. The problem is too large for one story. It is a book that speaks loudly, in sublimely subtle ways*, about facing your fears and daring to ask for help. And, I hope, will invite others to include this issue more often in mainstream children's literature. Maybe then we can find the answers faster and more absolutely.

Because love should always feel safe.

Follow the campaigns and programs of help through organisations like White Ribbon Australia.

#dosomething 

Images courtesy of Nicky Johnston - Illustrator

*Flick's story is told in metaphors using gentle yet arresting imagery and text rich with poetic vocabulary (Kirkus Reviews). Flick's fear of raging thunderstorms reflects the same anxieties a child of abuse might harbour yet the parallels are subtle enough for children to relate to and understand even if they are not in domestic violence situations.


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

World Kindness Day - Healing the World!

November 13 is

Comos - WKD floral symbol
A day to 'to look beyond ourselves, beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion; and realise we are citizens of the world. As world citizens we have a commonality, and must realise that if progress is to be made in human relations and endeavours, if we are to achieve the goal of peaceful coexistence, we must focus on what we have in common. When we find likenesses we begin to experience empathy, and in such a state we can fully relate to that person or those people.'

For me, it's the supreme power of story that promotes empathy. Stories collected over time, through life experiences, embellished with hope and humour and ultimately shared, like the stories we share with children. The best stories of all.


When you read with a child, you share more than just a tale in words (and pictures). You share smiles, distribute joy, radiate love and yes, generate emotion, sometimes sadness that ultimately cultivates understanding. Sharing a story, whether with yourself or with another, is powerful tonic for the soul. And one of the kindest things I think you can do - apart from sharing your ice cream with a starving dog.

Be kind to yourself - find a book to share today.
Be kind to the others - find a dog who could use a pat or lick of ice cream.
Be kind to your world - stop, listen, feel, embrace.
'Be excessively gentle with yourself' John O'Donohue
Nourish kindness and watch it grow

#WKD2018
#youcanfixit
#TheFixItMan
http://www.dimitypowell.com/the-fix-it-man/


Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Time to Get Your Tinsel On - SPECIAL CHRISTMAS OFFER!

Stuck for gift ideas to stick in your Christmas stockings this year? 

Why not fill them with the gift that keeps on giving - BOOKS. Here's one for the kids' that's guaranteed to ignite the flame on their Christmas puddings and keep the spirit and magic of the season aglow. 


PS WHO STOLE SANTA'S MAIL? is a lightly illustrated, action-packed, comical Christmas mystery about disappearing mail, an evil elf, and questionable smells that rips along at the speed of a galloping reindeer. 

This junior novel is ideal for independent readers between 7 - 10 years. 

A fabulous read with a mystery to solve along the way. Dimity Powell writes with warmth and humour and makes reading a joy. Amazon Review

Order your signed copy today and receive it in time for Christmas. Simply contact me now to order or click on the image below.


http://www.dimitypowell.com/ps-who-stole-santas-mail/

 $15.00
FREE POSTAGE* for orders between now and Christmas.

*Offer valid on orders made directly with the author. Free postage valid within Australia only. Package and postage fees may apply to overseas orders. Orders received after the 13 December 2018 not guaranteed to arrival before Christmas.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Invitation: Think Equal Film and Fundraising Night

I first met Leslee Udwin overseas last year and caught of glimpse of her provocative film, India’s Daughter. It moved me beyond words. As does Leslee’s immense spirit and drive.

She is a phenomenal speaker and ardent believer in making change happen – through Think Equal.

She also personally endorsed At The End of Holyrood Lane* for Nicky Johnston and I and is actively pursuing Kids’ Lit creators in an attempt to initiate change in the very young through powerful, persuasive storytelling.

I am heartened to see that this is happening.

If you get a chance to hear her speak, please consider going and supporting this immense cause.

If you can’t maybe take a moment to listen, read and explore more and then please pass this onto to all and sundry. It is so very very important.

https://www.thinkequal.com.au/

Leslee Udwin, a BAFTA Award-winning filmmaker made the documentary :India's Daughter which won multiple awards (including the Peabody) and sparked a movement to stop violence against women and girls. 

Not content with awareness, Leslee then left filmmaking to devote herself entirely to the action-based solution to the root cause of violence which the film vividly and clearly lays bare. She founded and leads the not for profit organisation THINK EQUAL which is teaching equality, social and emotional intelligence and and responsible citizenship to Early years children.

Please do come and see the film and hear Leslee talk about the Think Equal after the screening.

The proceeds from ticket sales will go 100% towards funding the pilot programme of THINK EQUAL in Melbourne pre-schools in February 2019.

Please click on image to book tickets.

https://www.thinkequal.com.au/

* I think…the poetry and vivid use of language is exciting and will encourage creativity and love of language in young children. Above all, Dimity’s skills in and focus on mediating social and emotional skills and competencies to children, will encourage them to see help in dark times and help them to navigate through stormy weather and understand that it pass.
Leslee Unwin CEO Founder Think Equal 

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Profound Encounters along Holyrood Lane

The last month or more has been a flurry of Facebook posts, well intended emails and quite a bit of self-trumpeting all with the soul purpose of making Flick's introduction into the world of children's stories as smooth, memorable and meaningful as possible. Who is Flick you ask? She is the little girl who 'lives beneath the beech woods at the end of Holyrood Lane', and the life and soul of my latest picture book with Nicky Johnston, At The End of Holyrood Lane - in case you live a fabulously social media free life and missed everything.

Photo courtesy of Sandy Pages Noosa Bookshop
In the publishing world, one has very limited time to spin hay into gold, so whilst the sun shone, Flick and I took our story to the road. Signing books for adoring book lovers (granted some had no choice but to come in out of the filthy weather - thank you Mother Nature) made me realise though, that no number of endorsements or promises to instill hope could match real life stories. The conversations I had with people who sought out my book, who had abuse stories of their own or who knew people and (deep breath) children enduring family violence were in equal parts illuminating, crushing, exquisitely personal and beautifully sincere.

This week I hand delivered two more copies of At The End of Holyrood Lane to a nearby neighbour, someone I did not know well but someone who touched my soul in a profound way simply because she was willing to bare hers. We sat and chatted for a while. We shared coffee and a mutual understanding that quickly cemented into deep respect. We wept a little and we parted better for the encounter.

This woman is clever, hard working, a mother three times over, kind and generous. She is beautiful and inspiring and strong. She is like any one of us. She is a survivor. This is some of what she had to say:

'I had issues with domestic violence...I'm so impressed with what you are doing and I really want to do something, too.

People think only stupid girls or druggies or people from bad families get themselves in these situations and that's not the case, not for me.

There is so much power in a book...

I LOVE this book and all the careful thought put into the words and illustrations...the antique rug (you're not allowed to touch or play on), the precious mahogany dresser, the roses nearly every abusive man buys after the storm.

Emotions leap out of the pages in a way only someone with intense empathy or understanding  could portray. 

Keep making more books like this.

I was going to do something to help women in a similar situation (to mine) and you've reminded me of that. Thank you.'*

No, thank you. I respect each and every review I get as an author, but no words move me more than those from someone who has been touched by my words. Someone who not only recognises the intent and heart I (and the illustrator) work so determinedly to imbue in each story but also, blessedly, understands and appreciates them in ways I can barely comprehend. This is why I write.

Knowing she will share this story with her children makes Flick and I happy.


If you are keen to do something for those suffering domestic violence or in need of support, please visit my site which lists a number of organisations who can help.

For comprehensive downloadable Teacher's Notes visit my site or click, here.

If you'd like to chat more about my book, please do not hesitate to get in touch. It could be a profound moment for us both.

* reproduced with permission

At the End of Holyrood Lane - a poignant yet uplifting picture book that deals with domestic violence in a way that provides understanding and offers hope to young children.

Published by EK Books
Written by Dimity Powell
Illustrated by Nicky Johnston 

Available in all great bookshops, online and via Nicky or Dimity

Thursday, 4 October 2018

At The End of Holyrood Book Launch 2018



Well, another book baby has been successfully birthed. The launch of my latest picture book with Nicky Johnston, At The End of Holyrood Lane, was memorable, moving and fun for reasons too numerous to mention. 

For those who were there to share the joy, those who couldn't make it and those who simply love celebrating the love of kids' lit, this is for you.

Massive thanks to Susanne Gervay for hosting and officially launching this special book for me.

Jacqui Halpin without whose cupcakes the event would not have been as sweet.

My mother and Alena Lemon-Scott for bringing Nicky's visual interpretation of my characters to sublime, vivid reality. Uni and Flick, you rock.

Maria Parenti-Baldey and Dr June Perkins whose affinity behind the camera lens ensures every heartfelt moment is captured, along with some goofy ones to boot.

To the wonderful book shops who continue to support and nurture children's stories and story tellers.

And most especially to YOU. The book lovers, readers, carers, and kids that make up a community of connected souls, whose love for sharing stories is as powerful as mine. I am forever in your debt.

  Enjoy.









Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Happy Official Publication Day - At The End of Holyrood Lane


Not even the voices in my head told me this couldn't be done - to write a picture book addressing domestic violence in a way that gives hope, raises awareness and above all, endears young readers to question and empathise.

http://www.thinkequal.com/

I'm thrilled those voices remained silent for it allowed me to hear Flick's story clearly enough to massage it into the picture book that is, At The End of Holyrood Lane. And today, I welcome this story and Flick into the world.


For those lucky enough to live in the top eastern corner of Australia, please join me and Susanne Gervay for the official launch of this special picture book. Click on invitation for full event details.

https://www.facebook.com/events/382048335614031/



 

Monday, 3 September 2018

Books with Heart - Highlights from Holyrood Lane and EK Books

https://ekbooks.org/product/at-the-end-of-holyrood-lane/
Risk taking is never easy to contemplate let alone actuate. EK Books have done so with me on more than one occasion. When publisher, Anouska Jones first approached me to publish one of my stories, the then fledging The Fix-It Man, I could hardly believe it. My story about grief and loss had ticked all of EK Books' boxes.

Several years on, EK Books has blossomed from a handful of titles to the impressive children's imprint of  Exisle Publishing stabling titles by well-known creators and rising new talent that expound the premise 'books with heart on issues that matter'.

Fortunately for me, domestic violence is an issue that matters very much to them.
Today I want to shout out my eternal gratitude to Anouska and the entire EK Books team for being foresighted and bold enough to not only take on this delicate subject but for embracing Flick's story with as much enthusiasm and determination as I.

As Holyrood Lane's illustrator, Nicky Johnston and I will attest, they are a pure joy to work with.
Thank you EK Books!

Come back soon - it's almost publication day! 


Monday, 27 August 2018

Empowering Change Through Education - Highlights from Holyrood Lane and Think Equal

From the second I heard Founder and President of Think Equal, Leslee Unwin utter the words of Socrates, 'education of the head without education of the heart is no education at all' I knew this lady was so much more than just an advocate for change.

 
Helming the mighty force that is Think Equal, Leslee truly believes that through the process of narration, young people have the opportunity to develop their empathetic abilities - through stories, reading, conversations and experimental learning, change is made.

We share a similar conviction, that books and story mediate empathy and create emotionally intelligent, sympathetic human beings who become critical thinkers able to self-regulate. It is why I embrace picture books with difficult subject matter.

It is why Leslee supports the intent behind At The End of Holyrood Lane.

Today I thank Leslee for her generous words of endorsement and applaud her and all that she does to empower communities across the globe to nurture mindsets through education.

I think…the poetry and vivid use of language is exciting and will encourage creativity and love of language in young children. Above all, Dimity’s skills in and focus on mediating social and emotional skills and competencies to children, will encourage them to see help in dark times and help them to navigate through stormy weather and understand that it pass. Leslee Unwin Think Equal

 






Monday, 20 August 2018

Preventing and Treating Child Abuse - Highlights from Holyrood Lane with Act For Kids

All children are entitled to an abuse-free, safe and happy childhood.

No one believes this more fiercely than Act for Kids, an Australian charity providing free therapy and support services to children and families who have experienced, or are at risk of child abuse and neglect.
Registered psychologist and SE Queensland Regional Director of Act of Kids, Gary Poole not only embraces At The End of Holyrood Lane and its intent, but acknowledges the importance of books like this in initiating understanding, awareness and action among those who are primary victims and also those who are not directly affected by abuse.

Thank you Gary et al at Act for Kids for endeavouring to make children's worlds better more beautiful places to grow in.

 
In subtle ways, children’s books have long had a powerful impact in helping generations understand and make sense of the sometimes baffling and frightening aspects of life experienced in growing up. Themes of being lost in a dark forest and finding the way out, of small heroes overcoming big adversities, and of inspiring tales of courage and discovery have all been part of our common cultural legacies.

Congratulations to Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnston for creating
At the End of Holyrood Lane, as it is timely in sending a message of hope to a child witnessing the scourge of domestic violence in their family. Only in recent years has the scientific literature turned long overdue attention to the potential long-term trauma and adverse effects for little people who survive in homes where family violence is happening. At last, attitudes are changing and the tide is starting to turn against family violence. Part of this change will include children seeking help directly when the adults in their life are unable or unwilling to protect them.

The increased awareness of domestic and family violence is already having a powerful effect in which victims and entire communities are now taking action to call it out and end it. The idea of instilling within children a sense of self-empowerment through teaching protective behaviours is also gaining traction. Children’s books such as this have a role to play in the process of helping a child, through metaphor and subtle example, to gain some understanding and in encouraging them to seek help at an early stage.

Best wishes to Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnston in publishing this book.

Gary E. Poole SE QLD Regional Director Act for Kids
Gary E. Poole is a registered psychologist with 30+ years experience in leadership of child health services in five countries. Since 2015 Gary has served as Southern Queensland Regional Director for Act for Kids, and for ten years prior was CEO of RASNZ, the specialist trauma refugee health agency receiving all UNHCR quota arrivals at the National Refugee Centre at Auckland, From 2004-2006 Gary led the development of child health services and commissioning of hospitals in Badhakshan and Baglan Provinces in Afghanistan in UN funded initiatives.