Books for parents

Diane Mannion talks to about her book on kids' clubs and organisations.

Are you stuck for something to do with the children at the weekends and in the holidays? Do you think there’s nothing around or that everything available is too expensive? Diane Mannion can put you right. She’s written a UK guide to kids’ clubs and organisations, Kids’ Clubs and Organisations, which has won the IndiePENdents certificate for good writing.

She was spurred to write it when her children, now aged 19 and 16, were younger and she noticed that there was an increasing trend towards getting children involved in clubs. She was lucky, she said, because she had friends who were in the know about where the clubs were. “Parents don’t always know what is out there and I wanted to share my experience with them. Many think holiday or afterschool activities are expensive, but there are many that are free,” says Diane.

The book, which covers activities for children aged from toddlers to teens, is divided into chapters according to the different types of groups and clubs available, such as toy libraries and organisations involving animals and pets. The chapter details what the clubs do, how you can find them in our area, what the average costs are, what the age limits are, whether there are provisions for children with special needs and whether parents can get involved. It suggests parents’ first port of call if they want to find out more and gives those in rural areas which might have less facilities available some ideas for what they could do.

“What surprised me was the amount of groups around for older children that give them really valuable experiences, such as the Duke of Edinburgh award, the Prince’s Trust, St John’s Ambulance and so on. Many enable older children to get good qualifications,” says Diane.

She adds that she came across clubs she didn’t know existed, including wildlife watch groups. She contacted all the organisations she included in the book and allowed them to review the relevant chapters so that she could be sure the information she provided was accurate.

The book was in germination for several years. Diane had been in credit control, but she took several years out after she had her children. She did a writing course from home which involved different types of writing and the childcare book span out of that. She also came up with an idea for a novel which she has almost finished. After completing the course, Diane set up a writing business and has been writing ever since, writing her books and providing a web copywriting and proofreading service for businesses. For the books she has found LinkedIn writing groups and parenting blogs useful for getting feedback.

Her books are self published and her next non-fiction one will be about places to have children’s parties and will be done in collaboration with organisations like Cineworld which provide venues. She says the self-publishing process is fairly straightforward. The IndiePENdents scheme was created to try to improve the quality of self publishing. “A lot of people are self publishing now and not everyone is doing it to a high standard,” she says. The certificate is a stamp of approval.

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