A new local champion for early-years children’s books from Castlewellan.
A Castlewellan woman has joined the ranks of children’s book authors.
Kathleen McPolin, who is a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant in Downpatrick SureStart, has just published the first in an exciting new series featuring the farm-based adventures of Boomer and Blanky.
Produced by Shanway Press in Belfast, the books are aimed at encouraging early years’ interest in reading and promote new vocabulary.
Part of Kathleen’s work with SureStart over the past twelve years has been helping to facilitate rhythm, rhyme, and story sessions each week for children 0-4 with their parents or guardians. She said: “Because this age group have short attention spans, I find the books that really capture their attention are the colourful ones with few words but yet have a story to tell”.
After finding it difficult to get the right books to cover everyday topics such as transport, weather, clothes, and food in a short-story style, Kathleen decided to create her own. “Children love to see the same characters appear regularly in their books. They become familiar with the characters and enjoy the new vocabulary in each story. My stories are intentionally short with the aim of retaining the child’s interest.
“The language is at the child’s level,” Kathleen added. “I have used repetitive language because this is a great way to encourage early words and sounds. My hope is not only to help a child develop their speech and language skills but also to foster a love for reading.”
The first of Kathleen’s books is entitled Boomer and Blanky On the Farm. There’s no water on Hollybush Farm and the two central characters come to the rescue in a delightfully written and beautifully illustrated story. Other adventures featuring the two heroes will appear in 2021.
Kathleen was brought up on a farm and now helps her husband John and three sons whenever she can. When the boys were still young she attended SERC in Newcastle and got her Early Years Childcare and Education qualifications and later graduated so that she could teach.
She said she loves her job at SureStart and added the staff all share the same goal – to nurture young children in all areas of development so that they can be given the absolute best start in life. “It’s great working with such a motivated group of people,” says Kathleen.
Kathleen also acknowledges the help she was provided with by Down Business Centre in Downpatrick in her desire to become a children’s author. “The staff at the Centre have been hands-on throughout this journey and provided invaluable advice and support at all stages. They understood where I wanted to get to as a children’s author and I’m extremely grateful for everything they’ve done for me.”
Boomer and Blanky On the Farm is available at Smyth’s Musique Newcastle, JRS Castlewellan, and Bargain Land, Downpatrick. It can also be ordered through the Shanway Press website and on Amazon.