Children’s book helps develop resilience skills and prepares next generation for change

  • A copy of ‘The Positivity Dog, Sir Port’ is available to download as a digital .pdf here:
  • A new children’s story book developed by The Farming Community Network (FCN) and New Zealand author Pauline McLeod will help children in rural communities develop vital resilience skills and a positive attitude towards change

The Positivity Dog, Sir Port, and the Fearsome Flood, which is supported by the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, follows the adventures of Sir Port, the beloved family dog, during a particularly heavy flood that causes havoc on the farm.

The story focuses on three generations of the family – the son, Oliver; his mother and father; and their Granny – and shows how they respond during the flood, taking care of their animals and focusing on a brighter day tomorrow when the sun rises again.

The book has been developed in response to changes across British agriculture – including transformative policy changes, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and climate change – to help young children understand the stress uncertainty can cause families and help them develop a positive way of interpreting this.

It also encourages children to keep a ‘Joy Jar’ and fill it with positive thoughts, feelings and memories that bring them comfort. In reading this story together parents, families and children have created their own Joy Jars, filling it with positive actions that give them a jolt of joy. Parents often pick up on the message by reading this story to their children and introduce a Joy Jar as part of a daily or weekly habit.

The Farming Community Network (FCN) is a voluntary organisation and charity that supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times. FCN helps approximately 6,000 farmers and farming families each year with a wide range of issues, including mental health, family disputes, animal disease and financial concerns.

Dr Jude McCann, CEO of The Farming Community Network, said: “There is evidence of the trauma and stress rural families experience in the face of natural hazard events and radical policy shifts. There is increasing recognition of the impact of such events on children, yet the support available for children is ill-developed and generally difficult and costly to implement.

“This little book offers a powerful means to move forward. Designed to be read to children by parents and teachers, it encourages discussion, understanding and resolution by both parties. It helps normalise change and suggests pathways to source further help. At the same time it offers reassurance that ‘everything will be ok’. We believe this story book fills an urgent, vital need in the current UK farming environment.”

The book has been written and illustrated by New Zealand author Pauline McLeod. It is the second in the ‘Sir Port’ series, following a similar story with a focus on New Zealand agriculture published in 2019.

Pauline McLeod said: “We can’t stop the weather but we can equip people to navigate storms and see the sunshine in the park. I hope readers take away a positive message from this book and develop resilience skills to help them manage change and weather the storms they may face personally.”

FCN hopes to distribute the book to libraries, schools in rural areas, veterinary clinics and doctors’ surgeries, and would welcome support in helping to circulate it.

Caption Halifax farmer Frank Chislett with grandchild