“The idea for Little Parachutes came to me at the time my son (who was then a toddler) started to be frightened at bedtime, claiming there were ‘monsters under the bed’. He has always been comforted and entertained by picture books, so I instinctively started searching for a story that I thought might address his fears.
I quickly realised that, despite the fact that there is an abundance of picture books published which cover situations and issues affecting the very young, these are often really very tricky to find.
As an adult facing a problem, we tend to browse for titles, and these titles invariably describe the problem (eg, ‘Coping With Divorce’). This searching method simply doesn’t work with children’s picture books , which often have completely abstract, unrelated titles (such as ‘The Last Noo Noo’ by Gill Murphy, which is a story about a little monster giving up his dummy, but you wouldn’t guess this from the title!) Even if you do ‘get lucky’ and find a title that gives you a clue to the content within, it is often still very hard to ascertain whether the story is suitable for a child’s particular situation (book publishers rarely provide a full synopsis of fiction books – adults don’t want to know what happens at the end of the story – but this is often vital if you are trying to judge the suitability of a picture book).
So I embarked on a journey to provide a service which would soothe this particular headache. Little Parachutes was born: a website which makes it simple to search for picture books that address situations and problems affecting young children.
As an experienced web designer, I knew that I could tackle the construction and design of the project myself (which was essential, given the fact that there was no development budget!) I relied on the goodwill and expertise of friends and contacts to support the enormous task of sourcing, reviewing and checking the collection of picture books contained within the website.
Whenever I explained the idea to anyone, I was struck by how positive and enthusiastic the reaction would be, and delighted when experienced and accomplished people such as therapists, writers, illustrators, publishers and teachers stepped forward and offered a helping hand to realise this pipe dream.
Now, after two years of head scratching, brain-picking, many late nights behind a keyboard and long sessions in the local library (a librarian recently requested that I ‘left some of the books behind for everyone else’), I am delighted that Little Parachutes is here to stay.
I am pleased to report that I found a picture book which helped my son to stop worrying about monsters under his bed. Now if I can just get him to eat peas…”
Little Parachutes is dedicated to Iva Harper, a bright spark who loved picture books.