Co Antrim teacher's book helps kids deal with school shutdown

A primary school teacher from Larne has written a new book aiming to support children in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 12:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 1:26 pm
The book's front cover was created by Sarah Beswick.

Mike Forde, originally from the Lower Cairncastle Road area of the town but now living in Lancaster, penned the story in an effort to help pupils come to terms with the school shutdown.

"I initially shared it as a Kindle book with the class and since last Friday, it has been downloaded hundreds of times and shared by teachers with their students in various schools across the country," said Mr Forde, a teacher at Ingleton Primary School in North Yorkshire. "I've now created a website for the book so that anyone can access it for free.

Titled 'How to NOT go to school', the story follows the whimsical daily adventures of Parsley Mimblewood. "Parsley's never been to school. Instead, she spends her days looking after her one imaginary guinea-pig, two real guinea-pigs and three goats whilst solving mysteries with the (imaginary) Detective Dracula and writing books explaining how to not go to school," added Mr Forde, himself a former pupil of Olderfleet PS and Larne Grammar.

Mr Forde.

"Each chapter explores an issue that might be weighing on children’s minds at the moment such as dealing with emotions, missing friends and feeling cooped up. At the end the chapter, there are prompts and questions to support parents to discuss these issues as a family.

"Also, the fabulous front cover image was created for free by a complete stranger on Facebook, Sarah Beswick, who'd seen the story and contacted me wanting to help out.

"The story draws on lots of ideas and events from the class I teach. For example, our class mascot, PomPom the Ninja appears in the book. And the children love hearing about my tiny Gran (who's currently self-isolating in Lisburn); she also pops up a couple of times. However, it seems to have appealed to lots of children and families beyond my school."

For more information, see

Mr Forde is a teacher at Ingleton Primary School.

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