Talya Bruck, a drama facilitator for our KidsTime Workshops, has just published Is It Me?, a story for children between 6 and 11 about having a parent with mental health difficulties. Our Time CEO Dympna Cunnane has written the foreword.
Is It Me? tells the story of Gerry the giraffe, who’s unsure if his father loves him, and wonders why they don’t spend more time together. He’s helped by his friends Leonard the lion and El the elephant to understand what’s really happening with his dad.
In her foreword, Our Time CEO Dympna writes “This story offers hope and most importantly a sense of community, of belonging. The group around the waterhole shows that people have different ways of seeing the world, different ways of coping with their situation and yet they can support each other and find wisdom and love, which helps them to cope with the fear and uncertainty.”
We spoke to author Talya about the importance of using stories to teach children.
Why did you write this book?
I’ve been writing therapeutic stories for a while, originally for clients about specific difficulties they were having. Then I wrote them as a way to explain the pandemic to children in school. After receiving positive feedback on the stories I decided to address further topics and self-publish through Amazon. I’ve been working on a KidsTime workshop for about 5 years, and about 3 years ago wrote a story that we used in the children’s group that looked at parental mental illness, and how it wasn’t anything the children had done to cause it. I thought that this would be a good story to publish, so I worked on it further and found an illustrator who was the right fit for the story.
What is your connection to Our Time?
Through working for KidsTime I have seen the wonderful work OurTime do. I’m passionate about children and young people having positive life experiences and being able to process things that they have been through. This is why I believe in the work of OurTime and the KidsTime workshops, as they provide support and a space for families to explore, share and process their experiences in a safe and non-judgmental way.
What do you hope to achieve with this book?
My hope is that the book opens up important conversations on different levels. Conversations between parents who have mental health difficulties or illnesses and their children – helping them to understand that nothing they’ve done has contributed or created their parents difficulties. And also for parents or teachers reading the book, to help them teach about different experiences and things that happen in the world, helping to develop respect, kindness, tolerance and understanding.
Illustrations by Jake Harris.