Jo Crowley, Colour My Story

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After discovering that her child was having difficulty dealing with her family moving home, Jo Crowley birthed the concept of writing books to assist children in better dealing with situations and overcoming fears. Jo chats to FOCUS about her journey and how she has been able to assist other families …

Hi Jo. Introduce us to yourself, your family, and tell us how you came to call the New England area home?

Hi, I’m Jo. My husband and I have four children, ranging from six months to 11 years. We moved to Armidale 18 months ago, after living for several years overseas. We are excited about living back in  Armidale and bringing our children up in the country. I am the author of a series of books that use storytelling, colouring-in and conversation to help children connect with adults during change and difficult times.

Tell us about “Colour My Story”; how did it come about?

Colour My Story started with a book I wrote for my own children about moving house. The book told the story of our move, and colouring together allowed me to talk to our two and three-year-olds about what was going to happen. The process enabled me to be present with my children and allowed them to ask questions and feel part of the move. Our three year old read the book most nights and used it like a checklist of what was going to happen next. Her questions were about the colour of the truck, the driver of the truck and whether she could pack a box. They weren’t questions I would have guessed, but answering them helped her feel less anxious and she started to talk about the move with excitement.

How did Colour My Story develop from an idea to a business?

Once I saw the positive impact the moving book had on my children, I started to think of other titles to help children and adults connect. I then used my knowledge as a teacher and mum to write a Starting School book, Starting Preschool book, Mummy is having a Baby and The New Baby Moves In. I launched Colour My Story in 2009 with these five titles. After the launch, I was asked to use my style of book to write a story for children going into foster care. From there, I have written two more books, one to help foster carers welcome children coming into their home, and one for children who have experienced trauma.

What are some of life’s journeys or obstacles that Colour My Story can assist with?

Our book A Place For Me helps children connect with their foster carer as they colour-in images of the home and talk about rules, routines and how things in this house work.

Our most recent book, My Story helps children who have experienced trauma. The first half of the book helps children and adults connect and talk about the physical and emotional effects of trauma. The second half of the book gives the child a chance to tell their story with support from a trusted person when they are ready.

With two books on welcoming a new baby into their family and further books on preparing children to start preschool/day care, school and moving house, Colour My Story books can help families talk to their children about change.

Personally, what has been the most satisfying part of your journey?

The best part of my job is knowing that my books are helping children through a difficult time.

What has been some of the feedback you have received from customers?

Jan, a foster carer from QLD said, “I’ve had 85 foster kids come and stay with me. I used this book with the last one, and she settled in quicker than all the others.”

Mandy, a foster carer from NSW, has said, “Four years after giving a child one of these books, the same child posted the book back to me to put it in a special keepsake box for her to remember the day she came to live with me.”

Emma, a mum from NSW said, “We had a tough first two weeks of Harriet starting preschool; she cried and was pulled from me each morning by the teacher. After receiving the book on the Monday and reading and colouring it in that night, the next day Harriet was much calmer and waved goodbye to me.”

Any words of wisdom to share with other young people pursuing their dreams?

Make sure you are passionate about your dream. Dream big! Explore how far you could go with this idea. Find a mentor, someone who can help build you up and be your sounding board. CELEBRATE the wins and learn from the losses. There are always going to be challenges; don’t let them stop you – see them as a detour. Know your audience and give them what they need, not what you want to give them. My books have changed and adapted many times; if I had not made the necessary changes, I would not be in a rapidly growing business eight years on. Good luck!   

For more information or to order copies, go to www.colourmystory.com.au

Thanks Jo.

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