Story books from childhood have a special way of staying with us as we journey into adulthood. And more than that, stories with positive values can shape our decisions and cultivate healthy habits.
Australian author Brian Andrews, was inspired to help parents and grandparents have real and honest conversations with their children – but he was unprepared for the impact his best-seller “I Grow in Grandad’s Garden” would make over the next eleven years.
Inspired by the book’s themes, school communities like Chappy Beck’s have gone to the next level and created their very own “Grandad’s Garden.”
“I love using this book in my conversations with young people. Not only does it encourage their reading and literature skills, but it asks interactive questions for the students to think about their emotions,” says Chappy Beck.
“There’s a need for belonging and community in our schools and our “Grandad’s Garden” provides a place for children to feel safe having those pastoral conversations.”
“It’s an intentional space where the students can come and reflect. We weather-proofed pages of the book and stuck it on the walls so they can see it while they’re chatting.”
Author Brian Andrews and his wife Moira made a guest appearance at Undurba State School’s garden opening in August, and shared that the book has made waves in communities as far away as Romania.
“I was so excited when I received the first email from a school who had built a garden. The content came out of my heart and the values that mean a lot to me, so it’s astonishingly humbling to see what has happened and the impact it has had across many countries,” says Brian.
“At its core, this book is a tool to help children manage and identify their feelings.”
“Initially it wasn’t even on my mind to write a children’s book. We had a visitor at our home and I was explaining the four spots in the garden where I sit with my grandchildren – she was the one who said it would make a great kids’ book.”
Brian’s wife Moira, also an author, was asked to write a book from a Grandma’s perspective, so “I Grow in Grandma’s Garden” was born in 2014.
“People came up to me saying, ‘We love the concept of ‘Grandad’s’ book, but it doesn’t fit in our situation.’ “Grandma’s Garden” is complementary, but focuses on being mindful with our thoughts,” says Moira.
“I describe good thoughts as being bubbles of happiness in your heart, and how worried thoughts are like weeds – you’ve got to pull them out and throw them away.”
“One little boy was going to swimming lessons but he was really afraid of the water, so he looked up at his mum and said “Grandad said, ‘courage is stepping towards something that you’re afraid of’” and then he got in the pool. He was only three or four years old. That story stuck with me because he remembered the words and applied them. Who would imagine one page of a book could change a child’s life?”
These incredible little books have sparked conversations for our young people to share openly about issues they’re facing, and parents, grandparents, teachers and mental healthcare professionals have thanked Brian and Moira for their insightful writing.
The best part is thanks to your generous support, Chappy Beck can now introduce a whole new generation of young people to “I Grow in Grandad’s and Grandma’s Garden!”
Your ongoing support means our children have a trusted and trained chaplain equipped to sit with them at school and care for their wellbeing. Thank you! To help us keep this vital work going, visit suqld.org.au/give.