Press clippings from Portugal (pt) and Spain (sp) in 2004

The arrival of “Make believe… it’s a diary” on the Spanish and Portuguese markets was a wonderful experience for Stimulating Activities Company. The reception was excellent and the diary received television, radio and press coverage. Our publicity budget for the diary was $0 and we couldn’t have had better coverage even if we had paid a fortune.

Press clippings from Portugal (pt) and Spain (sp) in 2004

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SAC-O on Spanish and Portuguese television and radio

At the end of November 2004, Stimulating Activities Company (SAC-O) put on the Spanish and Portuguese markets “Make believe... it’s a diary”. The book was received with excellent coverage and reviews.

Spanish televisión

12 November – “Gran Vía de Madrid” – Telemadrid. An afternoon talk show that discusses the latest in international and local news, books, fashion, gastronomy, etc. The diary, which was not yet in bookstores, was presented as “an innovative, cheerful and valid tool for parents and children to have quality time together”.

7 December - Mid-day News on Antena 3. A special report on recommended gifts for children at the Christmas season with national coverage. Interview with Susan Noonan, co-author, and filmage showing how to use the diary.

7 December - Night-time News on Antena 3. The same theme but with more ample coverage. The anchor man cited the diary as an “excellent and original alternative to the usual barrage of toys that overwhelm us at this time of year”.

18 December - Madrid Directo – Telemadrid . An extremely popular program that does 5-8 minute stories on the latest happenings. The diary was chosen as the “favourite book” by a well-known children’s bookstore.

6 January – Miradas 2 – RTVE – A cultural program with national coverage that discusses the cultural events taking place in Spain at the moment – theatre, dance, books, etc. Interview with Susan Noonan. The interviewer closed with “With only 10 minutes daily, busy parents can get into their child’s world, start a ritual of communication at a very young age.”

Portuguese Television

9 November - Portugal no Coração - RTP 1 – a 3-hour afternoon program with national coverage based around the diary, with children participating.
Co-author Maria Eugénia Leitao participated in the entire program and answered questions from experts as well as parents in the audience. The program’s presenter said “With this diary, parents can really become aware of what their child is feeling, how he is developing and, at the same time, bond with him.”

22 December - Praça da Alegria, - RTP 1 – evening show divided into different interest groups. The children’s section was dedicated to the diary. María Eugenia Leitao was the invited guest. The host said “Parents complain that they have no time, not even to tell a story at the end of the day. This is a way to find that time.”

Spanish radio

12 December – Estilo - Radio Intereconomía. National radio station covering economic themes. Interview with Susan Noonan on the program “Estilo” which covers lighter such as fashion, health, books, etc. The program director said “I can’t think of a better way for parents to start off the New Year than to fill in this wonderful diary with their children. The long-term benefits will be enormous.”

19 December – Estilo- Radio Intereconomía. Because of the interest in the diary, another interview took place. The program director stated “I am seeing red bags (the book comes in a red sack) everywhere I go – the diary has invaded Madrid!”

22 December - Luces y Sombras – Canal Sur. Interview with Susan Noonan on this popular radio program in southern Spain covering cultural events. The interviewer called the diary “creative, innovative… a wonderful way to reinforce family ties.”

23 December – La Mañana en Logroño – Onda Cero. Interview with Susan Noonan on this morning program on a northern Spain radio station covering current events and book reviews. The program director called the diary “a breath of fresh air in the usual Christmas scene – a long-lasting gift that will bring pleasure even 20 years from now.”

26 December - La Gran Evasión – Cadena SER - A popular Sunday program in southern Spain. First, there was an interview with the co-author, Susan Noonan, and then, to celebrate the holidays, there was a contest called “Words for Christmas” and 10 diaries were given as the prize for the youngest winners. A

5 January 2005 – El Ojo Crítico – RNE – probably the most prestigious cultural program on national radio. The diary was cited as “innovative in its concept, original in its approach, and a possible solution to the lack of communication between parents and children”.

Portuguese radio

18 November – Noticias de la Mañana – Antena 1 – Morning news program informing of the presentation of the diary that same day in Lisbon.

18 November - Cinco noticias en Rádio Renascença. On their five news programs they talked about the launching of the diary and invited their listeners to call in with stories about themselves and their children with a copy of the diary as the prize for the best.

18 November – Agenda Cultural – TSF – Talked about the launching of the diary and cited “the objective of creating a daily space for reflection with the smallest members of the family”.

23 November – Ana Cristina Almeida – Rádio Renascença – Interview with María Eugenia Leitao during which the Ms Almeida remarked “Congratulations, because this idea deserves it. It is magnificent.” She then urged her listeners to “have fun with your child, and get into this book filled with feeling,”

30 de noviembre - Elas em Marte – SIC Mulher – Interview with Maria Eugénia Leitao. The program director, among other comments, stated “often we don’t know what our children do, who they play with, what they are learning, or what they are feeling. To bring the world of adults closer to the world of the child, a project has been created: “Make believe… it’s a diary”.


Presentaciones for parents and children:
El Corte Inglés (Spain’s largest department store chain) La Casa del Libro (Spain’s largest bookstore chain), El Dragón Lector, Mar de Letras, Kiriku y la Bruja, Dideco, Biblioketa (children’s bookstores), Centro Deletrea (center for autistic and Asperger Syndrome children) and numerous day schools in the Madrid region.

Presentation to the Press: In Fnac (one of Europe’s largest bookstore chains) in Lisbon, presented by Dr. Daniel Sampaio, renown child psychiatrist and brother of the present President of Portugal, accompanied by Dr. Manuela Eanes, president of the Instituto de Apoio à Criança (an institute that protects children’s rights and beneficiary of 0,7% of the profits of the diary) and wife of the ex-President of Portugal.

Make believe... it’s a diary was first sold in a pilot study in Lisbon in December 2003. The authors photocopied 30 examples of the book and in three weeks sold 1,500 photocopies! Obviously the demand was there and in 2004 Stimulating Activities Company SL published the diary in Spanish and Portuguese. The book sold over 18,000 copies and the reception was excellent (see attached press clippings and summary of TV and radio appearances).

Make believe... it’s a diary
A joint project for parents and children to share 10 minutes daily

Created by Susan M. Noonan and Maria Eugénia Leitão

“Spanish parents talk with their children five minutes a day” (University of Castilla-La Mancha)

“Communication between parent and child is the best weapon in the fight against drugs” (Spanish Ministry of Health, Anti-Drug Commission)

“I don’t understand it. We gave him everything. He never told us he felt so alone” (Father of one of the child-assassins of the Columbine massacre)

“You should begin communicating with a child before he is born” (American Association of Pediatric Psychiatrists)

Make believe... it’s a diary
gives parents the opportunity to open the door to communication with their children by forming the habit of conversing and listening to the ideas and concerns of their children from a very young age. .

Make believe... it’s a diary
is a gift for parents as well as small children. The concept, as obvious as it is obviated, is to create a bond between parents and children to promote communication, understanding and creativity.

The diary consists of generic phrases that the child has to complete. For example: “Today was special because..............................”. The father or mother will read this phrase to the child and he/she will “dictate” the response to the parent who will fill in the diary.

In “writing” his diary, the child learns to express and structure his thoughts, define his likes and dislikes, evaluate his feelings and, most important, open up to his parents. At the same time he is aware that his parents are with him, that they listen to him and support him.

On the other hand, parents can dedicate a special and specific time to the child, enter into his world, discover his tastes, preferences, fears and problems and collaborate with him to make the diary a joint and festive creation. At the end of the year they will have a complete record of their child’s life in 2006 as told by the protagonist himself

The contents of Make believe... it’s a diary is simple and basic. Its pages change colour with the seasons. Every day of the year appears with the complete date. National holidays and some international days are indicated so that the parent can explain their importance if he judges them pertinent (e.g., International Children’s Day).

The phases of the moon appear in each page so that the child can look out the window and confirm it before going to bed. Every day has a space for the provided weather sticker to indicate whether it rained, snowed, or the sun was shining. At the end of each day, the child will evaluate what kind of day he has had with a sticker which is smiling, neutral or angry/sad. The space on the right of the page is so that the child can plastically describe his day: drawing, colouring, pasting photos, invitations, tickets, stickers, etc. with the collaboration of the father or mother who will stimulate him and provide the material he needs to carry out his works of art.

The phrases for each week are the same. What will change are the child’s answers as he begins experimenting new realities, sensations and likes or dislikes. Children of this age like to anticipate what is coming – it makes them secure to know what is going to happen. The repetition of the phrases will facilitate the child’s answers and provide him with the security of knowing what is expected of him.

Moreover, the child is at the age where he can begin to express himself with meaning. The order of the phrases helps him acquire a logical structure of expression that allows him to put his ideas in order and answer each question with a coherent answer. As time goes by, with the help of his parent, his answers will be more developed. If he says that what he like most about today was the leaves that had fallen in the park, the parent could go deeper and ask him more specific questions or comment that he also likes the fallen leaves and, when he was a young boy, he used to jump in the piles of fallen leaves in the park. By comparing likes or fears parent and child will feel closer. The child loves this special ritual between himself and his parent: it makes him feel important to be listened to without any interference.

For the busy parent, Make believe... it’s a diary has the virtue of providing the perfect script to begin communicating with this little person who is beginning his life. Over the years, this ritual should turn into parent/child conversations that will come naturally since the child is used to communicating with his parents from a very early age.

The creators of Make believe... it’s a diary

Susan Noonan has dedicated many years of her professional and personal life to children. Apart from her two sons, twenty-nine nieces and nephews and six godchildren, she has worked with children of all ages introducing them to English as a second language with the NAL (Natural Acquisition of Language) Method that she created after giving classes to children from 3 to 6 years of age.

The years of teaching were Susan’s source of inspiration to create the television series “Pitterpatio” based on the NAL Method. This series introduces small children to a second language in an entertaining and fun environment.

This experience also influenced her work as Senior Communications Specialist with McKinsey & Company where, with a small team (that included María Eugenia Leitao, co-author of Make believe…it’s a diary), a “toy box” was created for consultants to use with their clients. Many of these toys were focussed on bettering communication within an organization.

It was natural that someone with her experience in communication and with children would try to create an instrument to open the door to communication between parents and children. The inspiration for the diary came from one of her nephews who was jealous of the attention his parents were paying to his brother and sister. His was the first copy made and the joy he experienced in having his mother to himself for a special time every day made it obvious that the concept was going to work.

Maria Eugénia Leitão is the mother of two small girls, which makes her, along with all other parents, a specialist in children’s themes. She loves sharing in the daily big-small discoveries of her daughters. For this reason, they are loyal fans of Make believe… it’s a diary.

Presently, she works in the political history sector and also does translations. She was a teacher of Portuguese, English and Childen´s Literature; she also coordinated courses for pre-school and primary school teachers and developed training programs for public librarians. In her work as Business Editor for McKinsey & Company, she met Susan Noonan and, together with other colleagues, they created a toy box with games for business consultants.

Concerned with childhood themes, she believes there is much to be done to better the living conditions of children and provide for their happiness. She is a member of the Instituto de Apoio à Criança, a private institution for social solidarity that has been fighting for the defence and promotion of children’s rights for the last 21 years in Portugal. Part of the sales of the Portuguese pilot diary for 2004 of “Make believe…it’s a diary” went to the Instituto de Apoio à Criança.