Something wonderful is happening in the world of children’s books these days: they’re spreading more awareness on important issues. Of course there are many books which educate and use imaginative approaches in telling stories. But when I was a child, there were barely any stories that were geared to spreading awareness. One of those books happens to be a book I had the opportunity to polish up before it went to the publisher for final printing. And that book was Haven House, A Child’s Perspective of Alzheimer’s Disease. This is a story about a young girl named Gillian whose grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Although it is a story that is very often untold in the public sphere, it is one that is widely experienced. I was thrilled to read the story before it was printed and even more thrilled that someone had started something so incredible, something that had not been completed before. When I first saw this story published, I was overcome with joy to see how the beautiful illustrations bring the story more to life. The illustrator, Alex Perlin, did a phenomenal job in capturing the essence of the story.
Haven House, A Child’s Perspective on Alzheimer’s Disease is a lovely story that takes a gentle and realistic approach to a sensitive topic that is difficult to discuss among family members and with the younger generation. As adults, we are well aware of the cycle of life. We are well aware that changes will happen in our life as we age. Some of us are more aware of the extent of these changes than others. But the younger generations are often protected from these realities. So then what happens when children are directly involved in these realities? More specifically, what happens when a child’s loved one becomes diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease? That child has feelings that may often be difficult to express. I had the opportunity to speak with the author Rebecca Darling herself to learn more about her insights on sharing her story. Here’s what I learned.
The seed of inspiration to write a story about Alzheimer’s disease from a child’s perspective had been planted when her daughter’s school choir performed at a nursing home. Rebecca observed a diverse range of reactions among these children who saw the residents. It was at that moment that she knew that this was a story that needed to be shared. In her words: “it solidified the purposefulness for the story.” When I asked her how it felt to share her story, she summed up her feeling in one word: vulnerability. Understandably so. When it comes to storytelling and writing, it is common to feel vulnerable. But it’s important to remember the beauty that can come with vulnerability when it is combined with a moral and personal obligation to share something meaningful. It is a cathartic release to share your story. Furthermore, it allows you to connect yourself with many others who can relate, many of whom have not yet shared their story.
Although one might typically classify the book as a children’s book, Rebecca calls it a “family book.” It is suitable for people of all ages to learn a child’s perspective of Alzheimer’s disease. Rebecca believes that sharing your story helps to spark conversations. The stories may encourage more people to step up and do so. So although this may be the first book on a child’s perspective of Alzheimer’s disease, it is Rebecca’s hope that it won’t be the last. Thank you again Rebecca sharing your insights and having me as a part of your journey to share your story.
You can find this book on Amazon or at your local bookstore. I wish you all the best of success with sharing this story Rebecca! If you can relate to anything I’ve addressed in this blog, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Most importantly, share the love, and share your story.