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- author Jackie French

Friday 17 September 2010

Review: Nightlights

My 6-year-old girl has trouble getting to sleep at night sometimes. She’s one of those children who can carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. A bit of an old soul. I get the feeling she’s been around the block before.

So, often at night, she lies there and contemplates the big things and has a little trouble relaxing and falling asleep. Now, when that happens, we pick up our copy of Nightlights and it makes bedtime just that little bit easier.

Nightlights is a series of short stories to be read aloud at bedtime or really at any time a child needs to calm down, relax and feel warm and happy inside. The stories are different to most other books in that each story encourages the child to close her eyes and “Pick up your magic lantern and walk down the Enchanted path”, leading the child into an imaginative, creative world where animals, toys and fairies come to life. The child actually becomes a part of the story and enters into the magical, imaginative world created.

Each tale has been “specially written to calm and relax your child at bedtime, while at the same time engaging his or her imagination”. It leads the child through a creative visualisation.

While each chapter is not a meditation in the true sense of the word, it’s a great introduction to the many benefits meditation can bring and there are some lovely stretching, breathing and relaxation exercises that can be done along with your child to improve the calming benefits.

Each story also has a value or 'issue' it’s trying to promote or bring attention to, plus some affirmations to help reinforce the value or resolve the 'issue'. My daughter and I have had particular fun with these and they have helped to encourage some really interesting discussions.

I often deliberately choose a story that has a value or issue I think my daughter and I should discuss - something that has arisen through the day - about how she feels about her friends or an event that’s going on. Some of these include acceptance, belonging, confidence, bravery, trust and tolerance.

On the downside, I have to admit there are some stories in this book I avoid. They just don’t fit the tone that works with my daughter and I don’t quite agree with the angle it takes on a particular issue. But the great thing about this book is it lists each value in an index in the back, so readers can pick and choose the kind of story they want to read. On the plus side, there are more than enough great stories to make reading this book worthwhile.

There is also a great Background for Parents section, written by Psychologist David Fontana. This section includes great advice on promoting imagination and creativity in young children, how to help your child to deal with anxieties and how to use the stories to promote positive emotional development. It also includes some great tips on how to use and talk about the stories to achieve maximum benefits.

I’m a long-time meditator and I really believe in its benefits. I’ve tried to teach these to both of my children from a very early age. This book has definitely helped the process along.

Even if you’re not a believer like me but you think your child would benefit from some stories that help her to calm down, relax, visualise, imagine and then provide an opportunity to discuss some of the issues that come up in everyday life, you’ll enjoy this book with your child.

Title: Nightlights – Stories for you to Read to Your Child to Encourage Calm, Confidence and Creativity
Author: Various
Illustrator: Dave McKean
Publisher: Duncan Baird Publishers, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: 15/05/04
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 9781904292883
For ages: 4 - 8
Type: Fiction/Creative Visualisation

- this review by Belinda Butler.

Belinda Butler is a Melbourne-based mother of two, a qualified kindergarten teacher and a freelance writer. She has written for various Parenting publications, is a regular contributor to Practical Parenting magazine and has written and developed play ideas segments for morning television. You can find many of her ideas at her blog - everydayplay.blogspot.com.

This book is available online