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Storytime dads overcome challenges to create books for their children

The first group of dads in custody at Acacia Prison in Perth, WA has graduated from Storytime!

SHINE for Kids’ Zoe said that the WA team met “some fabulous dads who love their children and want to create memories they can hold on to forever” while running the program.

The special occasion was marked with a delicious cake made by the men in custody who work in the centre kitchen, which as a side note, has won awards for their food!

The program was a success with 15 dads creating special stories for their children. The group was a mix of young and mature dads which had the added benefit of allowing the older dads to support the younger ones in mentor-like roles and the young dads told the mature ones about current trends!

One of the dads, Ted* struggled in the initial sessions and said he wasn’t comfortable reading aloud and didn’t like his recording.

We asked why he felt this way and discovered that he’d only learnt to read and write two years ago and felt he wasn’t ready for the program.

We discussed options and it was decided that Ted would take the storybook and practice reading it for as long as he felt he needed to build his confidence. This proved to work very well, as a few months later he returned and was excited to try again.

Ted recorded a beautiful reading of a storybook for his son during the following sessions, which due to COVID cases were smaller in number than usual, giving him the ability to take his time and work through the story at his own pace.

During the recording, occasionally Ted would press the pause button on the recorder and ask our team member Marie to help him with certain lines and she was so pleased to be able to support him through this and help him achieve his goal.

Once finished, Ted said he was super proud of the reading and excited for his son to receive his voice recording. Now that he had mastered reading a story, it was time to get started on creating his own!

When sessions returned, Ted spent some time with our team discussing the characters and adventures he wanted to create for his handmade storybook for his son. He decided to write about a superhero and a dog who go on an adventure and took materials back to his room to work on it in his own time.

By the next session, we were blown away when dad returned having written 5 pages! An incredible achievement considering he had only learnt to write two years ago! Work continued and with a little support with grammar and illustrations, his special story is coming along nicely.

The other dads were also creating some amazing books for their kids. One decided to write about his and his partner’s struggles with infertility but set underwater called “Dr Dolphin” and another dad, Coen* wanted to incorporate his Aboriginal heritage and culture in his work.

Coen, a younger dad, also wasn’t confident in his reading or writing so worked one-on-one with our team over several sessions to create his lovely storybook for his child using Aboriginal patterns and imagery.

Despite many interruptions due to COVID, Coen was determined to complete his book and asked to have extra sessions.

He used the book ‘On the way to Nana’s’ by Frances Haji-Ali, and Lindsay Haji-Ali and illustrated by David Hardy as inspiration for his story. The love he showed for his child as he carefully created his storybook was heartwarming and his confidence improved so much between his first and last sessions.

Please donate today and support us in delivering Storytime for more children missing their mum or dad.

Thank you to Dymocks Children’s Charities for supporting Storytime. 

Storytime dads overcome challenges to create books for their children

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