No isolation in a book

BEING stuck in self-isolation could be an opportune time to for families to reconnect through books, says child psychotherapist and bookshop owner Jennifer Jackson.

As a response to the increasing number of families pulling their children out of school, and to keep her children’s bookshop Paper Bird afloat as Fremantle’s streets empty of shoppers, Ms Jackson this week launched book “care packages” and an online “home club” featuring local authors.

“Paper Bird will be providing free delivery of care packages to confined families in our local area and virtual services including book clubs, author visits and read-a-thons,” Mr Jackson said.

“If we are going to bunker down at home with our kids in a self- or government-imposed quarantine in response to Covid-19, one thing is certain; a stash of good books to read is a must.”

Ms Jackson said research had shown a key difference between books and screen time was that young children literally immerse themselves in a book, believing they are a part of the story.

• Paper Bird director Jennifer Jackson and author James Foley are packing boxes for families stuck in self-isolation. Photo by Steve Grant

That, according to a Cincinatti Children’s Hospital study last year, leads youngsters to develop a more vivid imagination. The language and literacy areas of young book-readers’ brains also show more “organised white matter” which helps them with their schooling.

Despite those findings, Ms Jackson said the pressures on modern life often sees books sidelined and kids punted onto screens.

She said the choice of books can also help ease kids’ anxiety about Coronavirus.

“Stories are a critical humanitarian tool across cultures that develop children’s sense of self and place in the world.”

Ms Jackson said parents could help kids through Covid-19 by acknowledging their worries, giving them age-appropriate facts (and not the latest Facebook conspiracy theory), reassuring them by modelling calm behaviour, praising any resilience and embracing challenges by engaging them in any activities that might help.

Paper Bird’s 30-minute Home Club will be live streamed on YouTube every day from 10.30am (to tie in with morning tea breaks for home schoolers) and feature visiting authors and illustrators such as James Foley, Matty Mitchell and Frane Lessac, Look for Paper Bird Books Home Club on YouTube.

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