YMCA Dialogue counsellor Hannah Peckham has recently published her second book to help younger children understand and celebrate their differences – Climb. We caught up with Hannah to hear more about her new book…
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at YMCA DownsLink Group…
I did my first placement with the YMCA when I was training back in 2012. I have since volunteered at a school once again with the YMCA and then got the role of canine assisted therapist with my dog Casper. I have worked in different locations across west Sussex but now because of other work and family commitments I work one day a week with 11- 18 year olds. Unfortunately, in the current circumstances poor old Casper has to stay at home.
Tell us a bit more about Climb…
Climb is a story about a little forest elephant who just wants to fit in but on her journey to ‘be the same’ she learns that being yourself can be very special indeed. It has a back cover endorsement from the lead author of development matters, Julian Grenier, Director of East London Research School (lead author of Development Matters 2020, the Department for Education’s non-statutory guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage). The book is also good play guide recommended.
Climb is the first new release I have published under my new imprint little bodhi books. It has been quite a learning curve for me it has felt really apt at times that it’s Hettys story that I am navigating this journey with.
Climb is a story about a little forest elephant who just wants to fit in but on her journey to ‘be the same’ she learns that being yourself can be very special indeed.
Where did the inspiration for the book come from?
I was diagnosed as a classic severe dyslexic at the age of five. Growing up I found this quite a challenge and still to this day have to find ways to work around it. The quote ‘If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree it will spend its whole life feeling stupid’ planted the little seed and climb grew from there. Unfortunately, whilst writing Climb, I had to research this quote and found that it wasn’t by the person believed to have said it which scarpered one of my ideas somewhat.
Climb focuses on the strong messages of difference and uniqueness, what in particular do you hope readers will take away from the book?
It’s so easy to draw comparisons to others and focus on the cannots. I want to help children think about what makes them different and what positives they can draw from this. Is there a role model they can look at and what people might admire about their difference and what they might admire in someone else. The pages at the back of the book hope to help consolidate the social emotional learning to recognise and celebrate being yourself.
The elephant in the story struggles to find their place in the world, much like some of young people we support. What advice would you give to young people about embracing their own individualities?
Sometimes it’s hard to embrace our differences. I often felt cross about my dyslexia, it felt unfair. I found things so much harder than my sister, the judgment that came with it, the feeling of shame and embarrassment. Recently I was talking to a friend who said they had gone to art college on a scholarship and all the other people in the class were dyslexic and he was so envious as he thought it was this amazing creative gift that made you think differently. This shifted my perception.
Finally, what response have you had to the book so far?
The response has been so wonderful. It always makes my heart smile when I get a message from someone. It has been a bumpy road with challenges along the way getting Climb into the big wide world, so any reviews on amazon or shares I receive mean the world to me.