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Picture books the fun new learning tool

QUIRKY CAT: Philippa Cleall hopes to teach children it’s “okay to be different” through a series of picture books she ahs illustrated and written. Each look at strengths and challenges for people on the autism spectrum. Picture: Sylvia LiberChildren’s picture books are no longer being made to simply entertain the little ones.
Nanjing Night Net

Maggie Dent with her first children’s book, My Cool Plastics Cupboard. Picture: Robert Peet

More authors are using them to teach valuable lessons, such as two Illawarra writers.

Kiama mother Philippa Cleall’s first book “Pepperpot” is aimed at Kindergartento lower primary kids and tells a tale about a quirky cat who doesn’t like change.

It’s the first in a series of four,while each will comewith a set of “teacher and parent notes” with discussion points.

The motivation for Mrs Cleall came from having family members on the autism spectrum as well as years watching children in the classroom as a teacher.

“Lots of children are somewhere on the spectrum and there’s various levels of awareness of it. But sometimes books label people with conditions on the cover or throughout the text and it can be quite confronting,” she said.

Mrs Cleall wanted to write and illustrate the strengths and challenges with being on the spectrum in a subtle, indirect way.

Shealso hopes to helpkids that were different to feel more understood and accepted.

She said too often the negatives werefocused on rather than themany strengths such as incredible memory, visual awareness, attention to detail and focus.

“There’s such a joy factor in reading for children and I hope this book will be a joy and a wonderful tool for learning,” said Mrs Cleall.

Illustrations have already begun for the next book,“Pepperpot and Salty”,with hopes for release later this year,

Meantime, former Englishteacher and youth and family counselor Maggie Dent has branched out from parenting books to release her first children’s book “My Cool Plastics Cupboard”.

Through the story of a toddler who gets to play with measuring cups and containers in his mum’s kitchen, the Gerringong author hopes to teach adults that it’s okay for kids to make a mess.

“Underneath is that message that they’re meant to use all their senses,” said Ms Dent.“The movement helps grow calmer and smarter kids.”

She said today’s parents struggled with an overload of conflicting information on what they should and should not do, making them feel “guilty and frightened”.

“That’s why a lot of parents feel pressured to buy toys that are educational or stimulating, when in actual fact a leaf can be stimulating and exciting. Kids are biologically wired to explore the world.

“Childhood is messy, it’s noisy and chaotic.”

Both books are available online or at selected bookstores.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.