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I recently received my new copy of the book 'I Am Beauty-full just for Being Me' in the post in perfect timing, as the day it was delivered I was babysitting two girls aged 6 and 8. I took the book with me as I wanted to find out how kids respond to it. I knew how it melts me so I was looking forward to sharing it with others.

Before bed I handed the beauty-full book to the gorgeous 6-year old. “What’s this book about?” she asked, as I invited her to read it with me and find out for herself. This super cute girl began reading it out loud from start to finish in her amazing voice and in her own timing. As she gently and curiously turned over each page I allowed her the space to read it without interruption or corrections. In this space something very beauty-full took place.

As the girl read each page, she didn't just read it as a book, she read it like it was her. It went from just working through the words to having a strong sense of “oh, each page is about me!” This surprised me initially, as I was hesitant to share this book with her, unsure of how she would take it, as it is different to the books she normally reads. In the past when I have babysat this gorgeous girl wanted to read zombie books and show me her handmade zombie stuff, dressed in her Spiderman pyjamas, acting like a bit of a cheeky tomboy. Having experienced this, admittedly I had a moment where I questioned if this book would be one she connected with and enjoyed?

As she read it, it became more like “of course she will be in love with the book, who wouldn't love a book that confirms who you naturally are?” This became beauty-fully clear the moment she finished the last page and held the book with absolute preciousness, smiling at the cover like she was holding a golden treasure and asking me if she could keep it.

It was just too beauty-full not to share again, so the following week I actually shared this experience and book with the students in my primary teaching literacy tutorial at University, where we always start the lesson off with a children’s story. Afterwards I spoke to the uni students about the book, about my experience reading it with a six year old and how this book has the potential to be incorporated into a social skills program in sync with the development of children of many ages.

I shared with my uni classmates that I had started to have chats with the students in my primary teaching literacy tutorial about what was going on for them, as they naturally came to me to share their feelings about their relationships including how they feel about themselves. As my relationships built with the students I knew this book would be read in the timing that supports them, warming them to the fact that they are in fact absolutely beauty-full and amazing.

The kids loved it even when I playfully told them this, despite calling me a ‘weird nerd’ to begin with. The fact is, they always came back for more, until one day they actually came to me and told me they knew they were amazing, even if it was on the quiet and explaining that they just didn't feel they could tell me in front of their friends because you get teased and told you are up yourself if you “think you’re good or something.”

Although their initial ‘weird nerd’ reaction is kinda funny, it is important to remember that not everyone holds this knowing of our innate beauty, as circumstances in our life cloud this beauty-full truth. I am deeply appreciative that 'I am Beauty-full just for Being Me' has been published as I have experienced the beauty that it brings out in all who read it. And this is true even if it is just a reminder to begin with, because as the book says, sometimes we forget this.

I ended up reading the book again that night at babysitting to the young girl as she was tucked in bed, only this time I replaced some of the text with her own name and elaborated on all her utterly loveable qualities. She was giggling; we both were – such a golden moment.

There is a lot of space to have fun with this book and enjoy feeling the beauty we are, just as everyone in the world is.

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    By Emilia Pettinato

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    Photography: Clayton Lloyd

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