Growing up in rural Ireland, storytelling was part of our family culture. My father would sit at the top of the dinner table and recount stories that would amaze us, stun us and keep us in line with his values. Using storytelling, he communicated so much to us – a gang of ten children, all listening, wide eyed. Bedtime always included a short while in the older sister’s bed all cuddling together while she would create the most fantastical stories. These memories are warm and sweet and let’s face it, indelible. After all, what you experience as a child, stays with you all your life, doesn’t it!
Once all the tasks were done, playtime was always in the woods near our home. There you could be as creative, as wild, as loud and as adventurous as you wanted to be. You ran fast to escape from bears or tigers, you jumped higher than a stallion over fallen branches, you climbed trees to catch a wider view over the green fields, like a pirate on the high seas. The sun’s rays would flicker through the leaves and paths between those trees were well trodden – by dinosaurs maybe?
The woods were never the same on any two days. Winds whispered through the trees and lights changed the constellation of those woods forever. The hundred-year-old branches of the trees would ache and groan in the winds, telling you something. And the fairies were always listening.
When I became a mother of two, it was little wonder that I then used storytelling as a parental tool. Reading aloud to children builds empathy, creates a lifelong love of reading, improves language and listening skills, activates and empowers imagination. But most of all, while being fun, storytelling facilitates important and / or difficult conversations and this is the ultimate aim of the books I have written.
Only in the last two years with all the COVID restrictions did I sit down and write these stories. So it was that Galway Fairytales came into being. The first series “The Merlin Woods” series describes how pigeons, squirrels, badgers, cats and dogs go through topics such as bullying, friendship issues, the difficulties being in a team, finding the strength in others, persevering in friendships, homelessness, depression, concepts of family, honesty and much more, in light-hearted but engaging Irish stories.
The idea of the books is that an adult takes the time to sit down and read the stories with the children. Light-hearted and charming, they bring a child into that creative space where adults can then broach the topics with the child. Using the discussion lists provided at the end of every story, adults talk about the issues to help the child develop their coping skills. Each story also has a set of fun facts about the animal character (squirrels, pigeons, owls, badgers, etc.).
The books are all well illustrated and are suitable for children aged between 5 and 12. Here in Ireland, the books are receiving wide acclaim and children simply love them. Should you too be interested in a copy, they are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart and on all reputable online stores or directly via email firstname.lastname@example.org.