Rohan Bullkin and the Shadows, a provocative new picture book by Jamaican poet and Chevening Scholar Juleus Ghunta, has been released today by CaribbeanReads, a St Kitts-based publishing company. The book follows the title character, Rohan Bullkin on his journey from reluctant to enthusiastic reader. Rohan’s reluctance to read is fuelled by Shadows – manifestations of his adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress. He improves his literacy with the guidance he receives from a magical book and from members of his community who help him to understand the impact of his past experiences.
Rohan Bullkin and the Shadows aims to help survivors of ACEs and toxic stress by giving them a medium through which to explore their experiences, particularly their struggles with reading and academic work. Extensive research on ACEs has revealed strong connections between early adversity and many children’s academic weaknesses, disruptive behaviours, and negative health and life outcomes.
As a survivor of ACEs, Juleus Ghunta brings deep insight and authenticity to this story. In addition to his personal experience, Ghunta has done considerable research, is a sought-after speaker on the topic of ACEs, and is an active advocate for the improvement of children’s lives especially in the Caribbean. Rohan Bullkin and the Shadows and his previous children’s book, Tata and the Big Bad Bull (which features a young protagonist faced with many of the issues that afflict vulnerable children) both tackle challenging topics. Ghunta said he hopes his writing will “encourage people to have difficult conversations about many of the trials our children face. These dialogues will then help individuals and groups begin their journeys toward trauma-informed healing and advocacy.”
A release from CaribbeanReads said that Rohan Bullkin and the Shadows has received significant praise from distinguished medical doctors, psychologists, writers and educators, and from key figures in the global positive and adverse childhood experiences (PACEs) movement. Many of them have advocated for the inclusion of the book in education systems across the globe. Children’s rights advocate Michael Abrahams, MD, said that it “should be required reading in all schools.” Toney Olton, founder of the Caribbean Institute for Social and Emotional Learning, called the book “a wonderful therapeutic tool for survivors of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and should be read by parents, teachers and all child care practitioners.”
Rohan Bullkin and the Shadows is published by CaribbeanReads.