Featured in the Irish Independent
This article originally appeared in the Irish Independent. You can read the original interview here. Massive thanks to the amazing Azmia for taking the time to talk to me and share the message of Adam's Cloud.
‘After losing my son Adam, it’s my life’s mission to get parents to spend 10 minutes a day reading with their children’
After losing his child to a brain tumour, Benji Bennett wrote the Adam’s Cloud series to help other parents make the best of the time they have with their children.
“I started off in the depths of despair and a pit of darkness. To see 15 years later that Adam’s legacy is people coming up to me to say that these stories helped them deal with loss or that they grew up reading them has made such an impact. Our family has finally arrived at a place of peace.”
Children’s author Benji Bennett lost his second child Adam in 2007 to a brain tumour. Every moment since, he’s made it his life’s mission to remind other parents to tell their children that they are loved.
Reading out loud is not just reading, they’re experiencing love and safety.”
“The very moment we lost Adam, my first instinct was that I needed to encourage and remind other parents about how important every second with their children can be. At the hospital when we lost somebody we love — one of the most profound moments that anyone could go through — I decided to start writing,” he says.
“We lost him very suddenly. On a Friday, he was running around, and on Sunday, he was gone. The first thing that went through my head was that we were going to be OK for the simple reason that we told Adam that we loved him every single day.”
Bennett’s first book Before You Sleep is a powerful bonding experience for both the reader and the child. Each page takes them through a different environment: though Halloween, Christmas, into space and among dinosaurs. Through all of this, children are reminded that they are special.
Illustrated by the Oscar-nominated animation studio Cartoon Saloon, the debut book became a bestseller with over one million copies sold and won two Irish Book Awards. Bennett went on to write nine books in the series that is now known as Adam’s Cloud.
“In all of the books, you have Adam and Fluff the magic cloud off on a special adventure. Adam is an angel who sends Fluff into the children’s rooms Peter Pan-style with a question that needs solving. It might be about fairies that need help with witches that stole their magic, a problem with the seasons or the greatest invention in history,” says Bennett.
Adam and Fluff take children off on magical adventures with messages of kindness, friendship and happiness at the centre of them. He urges parents to read out to their children for at least 10 minutes at the end of their day.
“When you read out loud, you have your arms around them. They’re listening to the sound of your voice, feel the warmth of your embrace, the beat of your heart and the smell of your skin. All of those experiences are mixed in together to create this sense of calm and reassurance. Reading out loud is not just reading, they’re experiencing love and safety,” he says.
“I know the importance of it because of what I lost. I want other people to know before it’s too late. As kids get older, all parents including myself, are giving out to them, rushing them or telling them to do this and that. On busy days, we’re always barking orders at them. But when you spend 10 minutes at the end of the day, that’s what they’ll remember. They go to sleep happy.”
To celebrate 15 years of Adam’s Cloud, Bennett is currently on a regional book tour to December. The author is visiting Dunnes Stores locations across the country in addition to launching the ‘Before you Sleep Bear’, a stuffed toy to go with the bedtime story.
An illustration of Adam on a couch holding a teddy bear with a big smile on his face is at the back of all nine books in the Adam’s Cloud series.
“My mission in life is to create an environment where every child will go to sleep in an environment like that. After the child’s adventure in space or helping the fairies, they always revert back to this image of Adam. Alongside it are the words: ‘It’s time for you to go to sleep now, Adam’s asleep in his bed. I love you so much.’ That’s how I end every book,” says Bennett.
“A simple bedtime story can make a lifetime’s worth of difference. It’s not just about vocabulary, it’s about resilience, relationships, bonding and inner strength. Everything stems from those formative years. And reading is an important step that really helps nurture all that.”
He says: “I started off in the depths of despair and a pit of darkness. To see 15 years later that Adam’s legacy is people coming up to me to say that these stories helped them deal with loss or that they grew up reading them has made such an impact. Our family has finally arrived at a place of peace.”
Bennett and his wife Jackie now have three children — Harry, Robbie and Molly — who also feature in his stories.