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This beautiful children’s book is helping parents address anxiety with their kids

This beautiful children’s book is helping parents address anxiety with their kids

A Kiwi author is helping parents tackle the tricky topic of anxiety with a wonderful new children's book.

This beautiful children’s book is helping parents address anxiety with their kids

When it comes to speaking about mental health with children, it can be a difficult area to navigate for many parents.

One Kiwi author has released a new children’s book that aims to address mental health in a way that children can understand.

Hare & Ruru, written by Laura Shallcrass, follows the story of hare, who struggles with feelings of anxiety, described as ‘noise’. The gentle story features beautiful illustrations, helping parents address feelings of anxiety with children in a safe and engaging way.

We speak to author Shallcrass, a mother of two who has an anxiety disorder herself, about the inspiration behind the book.

What made you want to write this book?

As an illustrator a children’s book is pretty much always a goal. When I started thinking about what I would write about I had young kids and it was shortly after the Christchurch earthquakes.

There was loads of media coverage about children experiencing high levels of anxiety after that, and I imagined that if it were my kids, how would I talk to them about anxiety?

I also have an anxiety disorder myself so I have some insight into what it’s like to live on high alert.

How did you go about addressing anxiety in a way children would understand?

I started by using animals, there’s a certain amount of separation which is possible when using an animal of another species to talk about something scary.

Hares aren’t scared of the same things people are but you can empathise with the feeling of being scared.

I also used very simple language, ‘noise’ in place of anxiety or loud feelings and ‘quiet’ in place of peace.

They’re just simpler concepts which kids can hopefully relate to more easily but have a similar emotional response.

Can you tell me about your illustration style and the look and feel of the book?

I’m in love with the beauty of nature, its organic curves and flowing contours, so I’m always trying to capture that in my work.

I prefer to use pattern and detail for depth, rather than using a huge range of colours so my palettes are usually quite limited.

I also like to hide additional meanings and storylines (like that of the worm) in my work too, I want people to keep coming back and seeing new things each time.

What do you hope parents and children can take away from the book?

Hopefully it helps kids think deeply about what life is like for them, and how doing a few small things differently might bring different outcomes.

If you talk about your feelings with someone, go for a walk and connect to nature, if you try a breathing exercise, does that change the way you feel?

But mostly I just hope they enjoy reading and looking at it together. Connection is the thing I hope for most.

As a parent, do you think there are enough resources out there like this?

I can think of a handful of really lovely children’s books which address difficult feelings, but there are many more which don’t.

Personally, I don’t think there could possibly be too many resources to help our young people with their mental health. It all starts there.

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