Happy Tracks in the Snow

sustainable parenting working from home children books yoga storytelling Woodcraft environment

Books crossing in the night… December 28, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - general info,stories — paulabrown @ 10:50 pm

Great website for swapping books – http://www.bookcrossing.com/ – you ‘tag’ your book with a code, leave it in a public place (e.g. Youth Hostel, cafe) and then the person who picks it up and reads it can log their comments against the code, the book might travel the world and you can meet it’s readers!


Core values August 19, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - general info,parenting articles,Tatty Bumpkin — paulabrown @ 12:38 pm

Many moons ago when I worked in a proper office, for someone else, who sent me on fancy training courses and everything, I did a few management courses. One of them was about how everything you do should emanate from your core goals and that way you would be perfectly content. I don’t remember what it had to do with managing but it did result in a few people jacking it in and taking off with surf boards around the world! One thing I did think early on in parenting was that never was this truer than with parenting…

So here are some of my core goals (note my next post will be about challenges so please don’t assume I’m some smug saint and all these work all the time!):

relevance / meaning – I have always felt, and this is just a personal thing, that the kids should understand what we do and why we do it – so what we choose to eat, where we live, what work we do (resulting in me leaving my job and starting child-related businesses that my kids not only understand but gain a lot from – see entries on Tatty Bumpkin and Barefoot Books) etc. We try to do this in an undogmatic, way, I don’t want them to think that’s the only way to do things…

anything’s possible – I’ve long been a believer of if there’s something you want to do / is needed and no one is doing it then just do it! It does mean I never get to veg and watch TV but is incredibly empowering. I was very lucky that my parents gave me a sense of anything being possible and that there were no limitations on what I could do, that I was utterly capable of anything (I did entertain a brief spell of fancying myself as a super-hero and jumping off the top of a tall fridge freezer dressed in my dad’s parachute boots and hat but otherwise entirely naked – but generally I think it was a good thing). All around us there is evidence of people getting him off their backsides and doing great stuff and there are loads of groups coming up with amazingly creative answers to (often multiple) problems.

sustainability – having long been a pursuer of all things environmental, it feels a bit like a (sometimes slightly annoying!) coming of age now that sustainability, carbon footprints etc are the words du jour. The kids are master composters and love being outside. They haven’t yet (thank goodness) started lecturing me about my car use (as my neighbour’s daughter does!) but they are pretty aware of the environment. The thing I think anyone new to all things green needs to realise is that it is a journey with no specific destination, that is to say that it’ll never be finished: I thought I was doing pretty well (we eat almost all organic, mostly wholegrain food from a food co-op, use cloth nappies, no chemicals in the home etc) but I keep finding new things (like the Mooncup, if you don’t use one, try one, they’re suprisingly good) and am still dealing with old demons like my tendency to use the car when I could probably avoid it.


Storytelling clothes July 29, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - general info,parenting articles,storytelling — paulabrown @ 9:21 pm


I wanted to share with you my find! I’m doing some storytelling at Babington House, a swanky hotel in Somerset which is very family friendly and wanted a cool outfit. I was going to sew something but since the days, as a child, when I tacked my clothes together and they fell off rather promptly, my sewing has won no prizes. So I found this top, a story of its own!


Ten Tips on Reading with your Child June 13, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - general info,parenting articles — paulabrown @ 2:05 pm


Learning to read is the cornerstone of every child’s education. By reading aloud and teaching your child in a way that is a pleasure for both of you, you will be sharing one of life’s most valuable gifts and open all kinds of doors for the future. Here are some tips on making the most of reading with your child:

  1. Choose a time and a place where you can be quiet and give your child lots of attention. Make the occasion a special one.

  2. Turn off any distractions such as televisions, music CDs (unless they go with the story!), radios etc.

  3. When you are reading aloud, show that you are enjoying yourself.

  4. Involve your child. Let yourself be interrupted with questions; talk about what you think of the story and the pictures.

  5. When your child has started learning to read, follow the text and help your child point to the words as you go along.

  6. Establish a routine. Try to devote some time every day to reading.

  7. Take your child to your local library and involve him or her in choosing books.

  8. Notice what kinds of stories your child enjoys and look out for ones with similar themes.

  9. When you are reading aloud, praise your child for listening well and sitting still.

  10. When your child is learning to read for you, give praise and encouragement too, but be sure gently to correct your child when he or she makes mistakes.
  11. Help build your child’s vocabulary and memory skills by supplementing reading sessions with audio books on car journeys and after meals or at bedtime. Audio books are especially helpful in building memory skills and supporting the learning of dyslexic and autistic children.

Sharing your child’s journey into reading can be one of the most rewarding experiences of parenthood. You owe it to your child, and to yourself, to make it a priority in your daily life.




father and son reading group May 29, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - general info,parenting articles — paulabrown @ 9:45 pm

I’m thinking of starting a group for ‘dads and lads’ at my son’s school-to-be as I have read a lot about how this can help boys with literacy. If anyone has any experience of this or ideas please let me know!


Barefoot jolly in France May 27, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - general info,Barefoot Books stallholding — paulabrown @ 3:54 pm

I’ve just come back from a brilliant long weekend in Gascony in France, having won a trip there with my Barefoot Books work. It was 5 days of grown up talk, no nappies, lots of ideas thrown about about books, life, parenting and a lot of wine and dancing!

We looked at some of the new titles for the autumn – Portside Pirates with a brilliant song for seal-lovers, an amazingly moving book called Mother Bridge of Love which is a beautifully illustrated book on (Chinese) adoption and One City, Two Brothers which is a folk tale set in Jerasulem which comes from both the Jewish and Muslim tradtions and is all about sharing… (among other new titles). It just got me going all over again and amazed at the sturdiness of the titles, can’t wait to get my hands on them!008_5a.jpg


Running my Barefoot business

Filed under: Barefoot Books - general info,Barefoot Books stallholding — paulabrown @ 3:39 pm



I started ‘stallholding’ with Barefoot Books in September 2005, around the time I started running Tatty Bumpkin sessions. I came to it to try to escape Thomas the Tank Engine which I have succeeded in doing! At first I was dabbling, then gave it all I had over Christmas and since then have worked at it steadily, giving myself time off when other pressures got too much!

Barefoot Books is all about beautiful timeless stories which help parents and children to enjoy ‘proper’ stories with important values, a chance to use their imaginations but that are also bright and fun! They are full of stories from other cultures and are such a brilliant alternative to some of the other rubbish you find for kids in the ‘information age’! The company is very grassroots-y and has pulled out of some of the US chains and gone for a more community-based approach because retail at that level is so soul-destroying.

I now have a team of over 40 people who sell the books, run storytelling sessions and all sorts of other ventures around the country. I love it and feel so proud when I’m by my stand at a fair in a multi-cultural area and have brilliant books with stories from many countries for people to look at and buy. Their philosophy of ‘not dumbing down’ to children by using bright and thoughtful artwork and strong age-old (and modern!) stories really appeals to me and my customers here in Bristol!

There’s more on this at www.mybarefootbooks.com/PaulaBrown