Between 2003 and 2008, David Broadbent recorded thousands of conversations with his three daughters and chose a few hundred to reflect a little of that sometimes elusive butterfly we call childhood. A time of wonder, simplicity and, above all, sheer unadulterated fun. If you’ve ever wanted a refreshing glimpse of a time free of spin, welcome to the tell-it-like-it-is world of Holly, Isabella and Amelie. Maybe, just maybe it’ll rub off on you.
About the book
The book is the fruit of years of intent listening, as hard as that can sometimes be. After a decade of writing down some of the things his children were saying, David was urged by many of those who were reading these conversations as emails, to “do something with them”. “They were telling me I’d created something appreciably bigger than the simple chronicling of my three daughters’ lives,” David says. “They were saying they were once again able to revisit their own childhoods.”
“I suppose I’ve always found my children’s imaginations irresistible. Being free from all the conditioning I’ve had and being unhampered by all the pruning my mind has undergone since puberty, I think what I love about them is their candidness. I think they’re still incapable of speaking, for instance, in euphemisms. With the exception of an occasional fib to escape my wrath, they’ve always told me exactly what they were thinking.”
“This book has been both my creative outlet and, in a sense, my way back to my own childhood. Indeed, reading back over what has survived has been such a delightful experience that I’ve fallen in love all over again with the springtime of life. I hope, then, that these conversations can be one way to reacquaint yourself with your own childhood. If it was a pleasant one, that is.”
About the author
David lives with his partner, Karin, and their three daughters in a house in Perth, Western Australia, that will, he constantly assures Karin, have a new coat of paint one day. Just as soon as his children grow up and he no longer has anything to write about. While this is David’s first book of conversations, he’s not been resting on his laurels. He’s already amassing more conversations with the girls. There are plenty in Newsletters.
The book is available as for download in a pdf. Just click the cover.
What readers are saying
If we could capture that butterfly of youth David Broadbent evokes so simply and beautifully in his ’389 Conversations With My Three Kids’, we’d have to release it immediately so that it might charm any and all in its flight path. Of course, it would be difficult because who would not wish to recapture the age of innocence and wonder, before knowledge and responsibility clouded our daily lives? At least with this book, we can return for a bit.
Judy Baldock, occupational health and safety advisor, Perth, WA
It wasn’t long after I opened the book that I found it increasingly difficult to put down. I took it to work and read out a few conversations to the team in the operating theatre. The one that got the biggest reaction was Karin dutifully enlightening Issy about childbirth complications. It resulted in an enormous roar of laughter; fortunately, we didn’t lose our focus on the operation at hand. It simply enlightened our very busy and often emotional day. Thanks for such a memorable book.
Cheryll Watts, nurse, Deception Bay, QLD
When I read the book to my mum and my teenaged brother, we all wee-ed our pants laughing. I think it’s the clearest, most honest record of what it’s actually like to be a kid. This book is gold!
Tim Kenworthy, volunteer coordinator, Perth, WA
I love this book! I am not a parent – I chose to experience the wonder of children through my siblings and friends. David has captured the magic that I imagine makes being a parent a true gift and has given us all a glimpse into the adventures that children bring to an ordinary day. Everything is amazing and nothing is complicated — they allow us all to see how very important the simple things are. Thank you for sharing the miracles that your children are. The world is a better place for your stories and the legacy you have created for Holly, Isabella and Amelie has enriched their lives, as well as ours.
Kim Blake, publicist, Vancouver, Canada
I’m writing these words on the morning of the federal election and it was marvellous to open ’389 Conversations With My Three Kids’ to find such heart-warming contents. The book is marvellous. It will preserve the childhoods of David Broadbent’s kids forever and when they’re very, very old they'll leaf through its pages and remember what a good dad they had. It reminds me that there are, finally, far more important issues than who forms government. I hope the book does well. It certainly deserves to do so.
Phillip Adams AO, radio broadcaster and presenter of ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live
I adored ’389 Conversations’. All the while I was reading I kept thinking, ‘Wow, these kids are going to be amazing adults’. In that sense, it could almost serve as a How-To-Be-A-Good-Father handbook. I read the whole book in one sitting as it’s almost addictive to race through the wonderful thought patterns of Isabella, Holly and Amelie. They ask the kind of questions I think all kids would like to ask. Instead of being told to go outside and play and be quiet, their dad answers them with a kind, playful honesty. I am truly envious and hope the book does extremely well. I could probably go on for quite a while about how much I liked the book.
Emma Norton, engineering student, Perth, WA
This book is seriously funny! Moreso because it is real life. The trip to Denmark is classic. ”Isabella very sternly to Amelie after we’d asked her to secure Amelie in her seat: ’Now come on! It’s only that you’re cute that you are even on this trip. Go in the booster seat or Mum and Dad will go to jail.’”
But one of the most interesting things to me is how much children seem to be pre-occupied with existential matters, especially death, and how to come to terms with the whole concept. Of course, the results are deliciously funny, especially when the author asks one of his girls, in essence, would you die for me? The answer is brutally honest, “No Dad, I’d have to get someone else to die for you, I think.” Well, that settled that one! As they say: ”Out of the mouths of babes . . .”
The book is full of gems like these. Anyone seriously pondering having children should read this book first. It will do one of three things: thrust you deleriously off onto the venture, send you hightailing it to parenting classes or have you scrambling for the condoms!
Jeff Kenworthy, Tim's dad and Professor of Sustainable Cities Frankfurt, Germany
I absolutely loved it. The first night I got it I was up reading it until about 1am. I just couldn’t put it down. I kept thinking to myself what a wonderful gift it is for David's girls and an incredible insight into the magic of childhood.
Debbie Hirte, schoolteacher, Perth, WA
The book is hilarious at times and thought-provoking at others. If all fathers were as interested, patient and as involved in their children's lives as the author is with his three daughters, this world would be a wonderful place for children.
Janet Berry, mother of three and grandmother of eight, Warners Bay, NSW
I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with your family throughout the many pages of your wonderful book. The anecdotes are heartwarming and reminded me of the innocence of childhood that is all too often replaced by the hustle and bustle of the modern world. The stories are well-written, easy to read and encouraged me to slow down for the afternoon while I read them. I’d thoroughly recommend 389 Conversations to anyone who has seen children grow up or is in the process of doing so.
Helen Oke, community development worker, Perth, WA
This truly is a wonderful book. It’s like sitting down and taking your time eating your favourite box of chocolates and not knowing what flavour will be next. There is so much great material in there. I look forward to the movie.
Dave Titchmarsh, father, artist and postie, New Lambton, NSW
Seldom in all my 76 years have I found a book that is ”hard to put down” on first reading and then becomes such a pleasure to ’dip into’ for a few moments of pleasure in a busy day. I love the fresh way of looking at things, the frankness, the charm, the humour and the absolute lack of guile in David’s conversations with his kids.
Ruth Lambert, author, former teacher and grandmother, Darlington, WA
This book is an absolute gem. David Broadbent has reminded us of the pure innocence of children and how at one time, we all were. He has brought me back to my childhood and unlocked the door to my tucked-away memories. The book has helped me relive many wonderful and magical times I shared with my dad, who was my hero. This is a book for anyone with or without children as it is one we can all relate to. The love and honesty David shares with his entire family is one of a very rare and powerful bond. They are blessed to have this gift. I would have to say from the heart, it is a book that can be enjoyed by all, young or old. If you would like to escape to a very enchanting place, I would highly recommend you curl up on a very comfy couch, because once you open the first page and start reading, you won't be able to put it down. All the best and great success with this heartwarming book. I will be anxiously watching for part two of ’389 Conversations With My Three Kids’ as I am certain many of us will. Bravo, Bravo!
Frances Bryerton, Almonte, Ontario, Canada
I spent the few days after receiving the book giggling my way through it and repeating my favourites to anyone who would listen.
Elisa McGowan, educator, Mt Lawley, WA
This book made me feel good in ways I thought only a Pixar movie could.
Alex Dook, scriptwriter, Melbourne, VIC
This book would be good for those who don’t know how to talk to children — those people whose only response to anything a child says is to laugh at the child. It would also be good for students studying childcare. And of course for psychology students.
Dorothy Rowe, psychologist and writer, London, UK website
The book is a ripper. I tell all my friends about it. I never wanted these kids to start growing up. Trying to explain war to these kids was my favourite:
Dad: ”Do you think we won the war?”
Isabella: ”I don't know; I wasn’t there . . . I think we came third or something. Third or second.”
Tony Grech, electrical engineer, Sydney, NSW
Thank you so much for writing the book. I agree with Phillip Adams — it should do really well. I loved the sayings and I must now collect my grandchildren’s as they are so wonderful.
Professor Fiona Stanley, epidemiologist, Perth, WA
Thank you for this delightful book. I’ve enjoyed the questions the children continually ask you. You do a great job of answering and explaining. Their answers to your questions are often hilarious and usually wise. How often my husband and I have said we should write down our children’s sayings.
Daphne James, great grandmother, Sydney, NSW
I have been reading your book about your daughters again recently and spent a happy time smiling at the stories. What I really love is the rapport you have with the girls, and the time you take to engage and playfully but respectfully converse. Not many people can do that. Anyhow, your book is right from the sunny side of things, and I really love it.
Steve Biddulph, author and Adjunct Professor in the school of psychology and counselling at Cairnmillar Institute, Melbourne
His latest book is Raising Girls.
A conversation as a cartoon
A cartoon drawn and animated by Holly, featuring voices by the girls from a conversation in the book.
Get the book
After eight years, and hundreds of copies sold, we’re happy to give the few remaining copies away for the cost of posting it to you. Because postage varies, it’s best to contact us for the cost. You can make a direct debit to our account. Use the contact form to send us your order and we’ll send you our account details and the total price. In the message, please include your mailing address and the number of books you’d like.
In the media: Three interviews David did with the ABC
INTERVIEW WITH JAMES LUSH
David was interviewed by ABC720 Perth’s James Lush on Breakfast on Saturday February 26, 2011.
”Out of the mouths of babes . . . We've all heard kids coming out with hilarious comments, in fact David Broadbent heard so many from his three kids that he filled a book! It was a hilarious chat with David on 720 Saturday Breakfast this morning.”
— Tamara Binama
INTERVIEW WITH JAMES VALENTINE
David was interviewed by ABC702 Sydney’s James Valentine on Afternoons on Thursday October 28, 2010.
An extended interview with almost a dozen contributions from listeners to the program, sharing anecdotes from their conversations with their children and grandchildren.
INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD FIDLER
David was interviewed by Richard Fidler on Conversations on ABC Radio on July 13, 2012
Dad’s book a labour of love
September 21, 2010 page 11.
The Southern Gazette is a community paper for the South Perth area.
Click/tap on the image to read in full.
Free Range Kids
A snapshot of part of a page on Lenore Skenazy’s website Free-Range Kids on October 20, 2010, which includes a conversation between David and Isabella on our dangerous world. Click/tap on the image to read it enlarged. Or, read it below.
Signs, signs everywhere
Isabella, after we’d made it to the West End on Rottnest Island off the West Australian coast and had had a bit of a look around: “Dad, why are there so many signs?”
Dad: “They’re warnings, Issy.”
Isabella: “Warnings? About what?”
Dad: “About all the things that can hurt you?”
Isabella: “Like what, Dad?”
Dad: “Oh, cliffs falling on your head, unsteady footpaths giving way, that sort of thing.”
Isabella: “Was everything this dangerous when you were a little boy?”
Dad: “Do you mean, did we have signs everywhere when I was little?”
Dad: “I can hardly remember any signs when I was a boy.”
Isabella: “Oh! Well, why has it become so dangerous now for?”
Dad: “It’s not dangerous now. Things are the same now as they’ve always been. All that’s changed is that people now think everything has to have a warning sign on it in case someone accidently hurts themselves.”
Isabella: “But why can’t people just watch out for things all by themselves? And besides, Dad. You can’t warn people about everything. There are too many things in the world that can be dangerous. I know. Just tell everyone that they have to do it themselves.”
Dad: “Do what?”
Isabella: “You know, look out for things. Otherwise there’s going to be sand everywhere with lots of signs sticking out of it. Or rocks with signs sticking out of them.”
The conversations kept flowing since the book was published in 2010. David continued to record them until childhood ran out sometime in 2017. We put them in an occasional newsletter, which was sent free to subscribers. To view and download any newsletter in pdf form, click/tap one of the numbers below.
A new book covering the years 2009-2017 is in planning. It will cover a different period of childhood, the second half, if you will. It will take some time; there are a lot of conversations to mull over!
Links and Resources
’Offline and left to their own devices: Kids and taking a break from their numerous gadgets’ View
Goldie Hawn on mindfulness
Actress Golden Hawn speaks with Richard Aedy on ABC RadioNational’s Life Matters October 13, 2011
Tessa Livingstone. Lots of good things to read here. If you’re a little short on time try the articles link. View
’More Dads at home will change the world’ by Griffin Longley The West Australian February 17, 2012 View