What was your background leading up to writing Carmen Reddy?

I am a primary trained teacher and was working at Glen Huon Primary School when I first began to get ideas for Carmen Reddy.  I was also on the KidsMatter working group for the school. Emotional and social learning have always been high on my radar and I always aimed to create a classroom environment that encouraged students to engage with their emotions and to learn from themselves and their classmates about emotional regulation.

What made you want to write a book like Carmen Reddy?

It all started with the name Carmen Reddy, a colleague of mine heard me asking the same student, nearly every Monday ‘are you calm and ready’ before helping him to reenter his classroom after needing time to chill out. She started walking past us both and saying ‘hi Carmen’. From there, the idea grew. Carmen is really a conglomerate of many of my past students, I developed her character and used the story as a way to begin conversations in classrooms around a number of topics- for example; how to ask for help, the different home environments we all come from, how to respond to emotions in a safe way when in a school environment and who are appropriate people to talk to about personal issues.

I also just love picture books, and was excited to be able to create one of own!

Do you find yourself using the Carmen teachings in your everyday life?

I do! I have two children and I am at home with them full time at the moment. My oldest has known Carmen since he was two and we often say ‘what would Carmen do right now?’ when we can see that an emotional outburst is about to occur! He has related to the book more than I ever expected which is a nice bonus. It can be used across a much wider age group than I originally thought, but with a different focus at different levels.

Why did you decide to donate the book to all primary schools?

I used a crowdfunding platform to raise funds to print the book, which worked by supporters pledging certain amounts and getting varying rewards for their generosity. Some received a book for themselves, or donated single books to schools, or received artworks from my lovely illustrator Veronica Gawlik.  One supporter was generous enough to donate a large sum, the reward being that every public primary school in Tasmania received a copy of the book, how great is that?!

Thanks so much for your time Louisa!


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