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Reading therapy for sick children at Nelson Hospital

Dr. Peter McIlroy, right, reads a book with 4-year-old patient Etta and registered nurse Margaret Doorman.  The book was donated to the pediatric ward at Nelson Hospital by Gecko Press.

Supplied/Nelson Mail

Dr. Peter McIlroy, right, reads a book with 4-year-old patient Etta and registered nurse Margaret Doorman. The book was donated to the pediatric ward at Nelson Hospital by Gecko Press.

Sick children at Nelson Hospital can now get lost in the pages while they undergo treatment, then they can take the book home.

Since the start of the pandemic, Covid-19 protocols meant that children on the pediatric ward had little or no access to toys and books while in hospital.

Now Nelson Marlborough Health and Gecko Press have teamed up to give every child their own special book to keep.

Gecko Press donated 360 books, while the hospital paid freight.

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The books cover a wide age group – from babies to teenagers.

Among the titles are Alepha first board book for babies; help and help, a book of chapters by Joy Cowley and illustrator Gavin Bishop; and riversa large format non-fiction book for children.

Gecko Press editor Julia Marshall said the books were received with open arms.

“In the hospital, where children are sick and away from home, it seems important that they have something to read – something of their own.”

Consultant pediatrician Dr Peter McIlroy said whānau’s comments were fantastic.

“The books have enhanced our ability to build trust with the whānau and to observe critical aspects of tamariki development and behavior…the pleasure the tamariki show when they realize they can keep the book is fantastic.”

The books had also helped provide a distraction that wasn’t on a screen, he said.

“Clinical staff have noted a book’s unique ability to foster shared enjoyment and engagement (free from electronic distractions) between tamariki and their parents.”

Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson