Writer in Residence: Creating the story of Little Mouse

The launch of Little Mouse
Category: Bookbug

In 2010,  Scottish Book Trust was awarded funding via the Scottish Arts Council’s pARTners fund to run the Writer in Residence project in partnership with Home-Start. The programme consisted of sixteen workshops in which the selected writer worked collaboratively with a Home-Start group of parents to generate ideas for a children’s picture book with text. The picture book was then published and distributed to young children across Scotland as part of our book gifting programme.

Emma Richardson from the Star Project  shares her experiences on the programme.

While facilitating the Family Group for Home Start Renfrewshire, I was delighted to play a key role in Scottish Book Trust’s Writer in Residence programme. We applied for the programme as a group because we knew as an established but progressive collection of 16 mums (myself included) we could support Scottish Book Trust to make this project something fabulous.  Which we all pulled off!

The writing process took several months and wasn’t without setbacks, but the emotional rollercoaster added to the value of the project for the individuals, groups and the organisations involved. Everyone knows the wonderful book “Little Mouse” by Alison Murray as the end product, but the project impact has gone beyond the proposed outcomes. 

From my own personal point of view I have continued to work with Scottish Book Trust in a variety of capacities and I love it. The additions to my family support tool kit offered through Bookbug, Assertive Outreach and the Scottish Book Trust website are priceless. I remain in contact with many of the professionals I met along the way,  and together we work towards an equality of opportunity in early years. I love seeing the benefits of book sharing, play, rhyming and softness in the families I work with.

Celebration cake for Little Mouse

It’s interesting to think about my own experience, but it is most rewarding to gain a deeper insight into the impact of programmes such as the Writer in Residence on families. I am fortunate that I am still in touch with all of the parents who took part in the project and I can see the difference it has made.  Everyone has a love of books, full stop. Beyond that is an understanding of book sharing that has real depth. They see the special time, the benefits to their children and their family life, actively looking for opportunities to exploit these benefits. These opportunities include creating 'reading cushions', taking a shopping trip to buy our ‘next story' and collecting tokens from cereal boxes to share with other parents for 'free books that are good.' Above all, knowing that a good book is a personal thing and being confident to assert that. On a wider scale parents have found their inner dramatics, often using character voices and acting out the story while waiting for buses with their children, helping bring books to life and embedding a love that should take them through their lifetime.

The group was a mixed bag, including mums who may not typically mix, but friendships were formed and respect and understanding established. Most are still in touch via social networking as a minimum, some attend family events together and remain firm friends. All have a shared sense of pride and achievement from being part of something that was special, challenging and quite simply brilliant.

Emma Richardson

Emma Richardson works for The Star Project, a community organisation supporting individuals and families in the North End of Paisley. The organisation delivers a programme of services and activities rooted in genuine positive relationships with a holistic approach to the needs and aspirations of individuals and families. You can find out more on the Star Project website.