A SUNSHINE Coast doctor who wants people to get the healthy eating message early in life has targeted children with a series of picture books.
Dr Nick Dreyer, of Pelican Waters Family Doctors, has co-authored two books with his 11-year-old daughter Jessica and has plans for at least eight more.
The Tummy and Guts books explain the basics of organ function through simple stories and characters including Tummy, Guts, Penny Pancreas and Benny Brain.
Dr Dreyer said he had never had aspirations to be a writer but was inspired to write the books when Jessica began asking questions about subjects such as sugar.
“How do I answer that?” he thought.
When he stopped to consider that many adults did not have the same knowledge of anatomy and physiology as he did as a doctor, he realised it was nigh on impossible for them educate their six, seven or eight-year-old children.
Dr Dreyer said he hoped to get children off to a good start in life by bringing the healthy eating message to them as early as possible.
“In educating the kids we are also educating the adults,” he said.
Dr Dreyer and Jessica collaborated to come up with the storylines. Jessica’s younger brothers, Niclas and Dante, 9, contributed by cutting out shapes for possible characters.
The books have been illustrated by Brisbane artist Tony O’Brien, who produced a selection of drawings for each character which Dr Dreyer “tested” on children from Caloundra City Private School.
The drawings with large eyes and smiley faces were found to be most appealing.
But not surprisingly, boiling down the sometimes complex digestive processes and bodily functions into 100 words or less was a challenge.
“We’ve deliberately kept the storylines really simple,” Dr Dreyer said.
The first book explains the role of the tummy and guts in distributing nutrients from food to the rest of the body. The second introduces the pancreas and its role in creating insulin to digest sugar, explaining diabetes.
Dr Dreyer plans to highlight the roles of other organs in other books.
The books have some long words for lower primary school children, such as digestion and absorption, but Dr Dreyer hopes a glossary at the end of each book will answer any questions.
“The teacher or parents can refer to the glossary to help them explain it correctly,” he said.
Dr Dreyer hopes adults will read the books to their children.
“We don’t sit down and spend enough time reading to our children. We don’t spend enough time with them,” he said.
Nevertheless, the books are written in a manner that children of lower primary-school age can read themselves.
Dr Dreyer has paid for publication of the books without the assistance of sponsors or government grants and hopes to recoup the cost through private sales.
But his main aim is to see them stocked by schools for classroom use and to improve our community’s health by knowledge and prevention.
He hopes children will eventually take the healthy living message back to their parents.
“I want to put the knowledge in when they are young and get to them before they are teenagers,” he said.
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