Hello, friends. I’m a new member of this website, so I thought it only appropriate to introduce myself and the stories I intend to tell.
We’ll start with the basics. My name is Isabelle, but I’m more commonly known to my peers as Izzie. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember – my room is strewn with childhood school copybooks containing stories about fairies, and teenage notebooks bursting with angsty poetry. It’s common, I think. For writers to find their love of words early on in life.
As far as what I do write, it’s a long list. Between poetry and academic pieces, personal and political essays, short stories and how-to guides, my experience is varied. I’ve peppered styles, tones, and forms all over my years, forever looking to broaden my horizons and learn something new. I currently work as a writer for a technical company, and the experience has been invaluable. However, my love has always been in creative writing.
My current project is a series of educational, safe, and wholesome children’s books. A few years ago, I hadn’t even considered children’s literature, but as I grew (and as the world grew around me), I began to see what I believe to be a flaw in how we speak to and educate the kids of today.
The book series is titled ‘Friends in the Glenn’, and focuses on a group of friends learning about life and all that comes with it. The reading age is between 2 -5.
It would be naive to not think that the internet has fundamentally changed the way the youth are exposed to information. They often seek it out, having found conversations with parents or other adults dissatisfying. This is not the fault of the adults responsible – after all, there are several things that we have been taught to not speak to children about. I’d even go so far as to say that we don’t even know how.
My evidence is purely anecdotal. But from having my questions avoided as a child, to then avoiding the questions of children around me, I decided that something had to change in Irish culture. And, ever the optimist, I have decided to try my hand at being the one to do it.
The world can be a scary place, full of uncertainty and volatile emotions. But if we could have conversations with children, and answer their queries in a space that is safe, calm, and welcoming, then some of that uncertainty may vanish. They would know what to expect. That’s where the ‘Friends in the Glenn’ comes in.
The book series covers a range of topics, from teamwork to panic attacks. The settings is in that of a glenn – a calm, sunny place where the group discuss issues and give answers that we as adults may not be able to do on our own.
I believe that we need to begin with the fundamentals, teaching children that their individuality matters. In our education system and society, we have a rigid set of guidelines on whether children are “smart” or “capable”. But our definition of these things have become so limited that almost no one can reach them. We are outcasting children from an incredibly young age, based solely on whether they can run fast enough or understand the pythagoras theorem. In the first of the books, and as an underlying current, it is stressed that the friends are different. They all have varying skills and attributes, and each are as valid as the other. As this is established, more serious or “uncomfortable” topics are brought up. Death, family dynamics, and identity have their own dedicated books. The fact is that children, though young, are curious and genuinely want to know what is happening to them, and the people and world around them. And they also want to know why.
The aim of these books is to create a world where children can feel seen and heard. Of course, there are details that can be omitted, but vague answers to pointed questions are not enough. The friends will explain talking points in a way that is safe, but not patronising. Serious, but not scary. And my hope is that ultimately, it will open the floors to conversation within families – conversations, I think, a lot of us wish we’d had.
(c) Isabelle Murphy