Belfast Sure Start ‘Chat with Me’ Book

21st October 2021

This year’s Parenting Week theme is Reset and Reconnect, encouraging parents to take time after a challenging year to think about things they can do to reconnect with family, friends and support around them. Reading with your children is an activity you can do as a family to help strengthen bonds. The ‘Chat with Me’ book has been designed to help parents connect with their children and develop their communication skills at the same time.

Sharing books with your babies and young children is a great way to connect, especially if you give your child time to look at the pictures, notice what they are interested in and chat about that. This is also a fantastic way to help children develop their listening and talking.

The Sure Start Speech and Language Therapy Team wanted to design a book that made it very easy for parents to spend special moments chatting with their children about a book. The illustrations in the book are all based on ideas from parents themselves – they told us what their children enjoy chatting about and we put those ideas in the book. In the photo you can see Codi – Codi’s mum told us how they love to chat about the Air Ambulance when they see it landing at the hospital. The Air Ambulance has become a key part of the book.

Beth McComish (Arts Care NI) transformed the parents’ suggestions into the most beautiful and detailed illustrations. Karen Diamond (Music Therapist) wrote the melody and worked with the Sure Start SLTs to help craft the lyrics. The lyrics also form the text in the book.

The illustrations in the book provide lots of detail to chat about but also give parents ideas about things they could do with their child, for example, going to the library; letting child hold the shopping list; getting child involved in food preparation.

Parents now have a book that they can share with their children regardless of whether the parent is a confident reader or not. You can watch the video which shares the story below.