This week is Children’s Mental Health Week, an initiative set up by children’s mental health charity, Place2Be. Each year, this week is a time to focus on children’s mental health and ensuring that the young people in our homes and communities are supported with their mental health. This year’s theme is ‘Find Your Brave’.
Also this week, The Reading Agency launch their ‘Reading Well for Children‘ collection, which you’ll find on the shelves in our libraries or by browsing our Health and Well Being pages. The collection features topics from mindfulness to offering help expressing emotions, dealing with tough times such as the loss of a loved one and books to help with conditions such as dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and for young people living on the autism spectrum.
In a similar way to previous ‘Reading Well’ collections that support readers with their understanding and management of their health and well being, this collection has been carefully selected by children, their carers and families, health experts and librarians. Books are aimed at children aged 7 to 11, though titles may be of use to older children, their parents and carers and can be read alone or shared as discussion starters between children, their parents, siblings, friends and anyone they trust. (For young adults, you can find similar titles in the ‘Shelf Help’ collection which can be searched on the library catalogue too and for some titles, we’ll also have eAudio or eBook formats available via BorrowBox).
Anyone can borrow any of the titles in all of the ‘Reading Well’ collections and while they could be recommended by a healthcare professional, they don’t have to be – if you’re browsing our shelves and find something that could help, please do borrow it.
There are lots of fabulous titles in the collection, many with amazing illustrations and full of useful information for both children and their adults. We hope you find them useful and that the titles spark conversations. We’re not going to go through each title here but you can pick up a leaflet featuring the entire collection in your library or browse it online.
Warwickshire’s Mood-Boosting Reads for Children
The Reading Agency have also compiled a list of titles that readers have chosen as mood-boosting books. Taking inspiration from this, we thought we would share with you some of the books we love and that boost our mood. Staff in all Warwickshire Libraries were asked to suggest titles that either they had loved when they were younger or those that they have come to know more recently that lift their mood, cheer them up or make them laugh.
These are all personal choices so while you may not agree, we hope you’ll find the selection interesting. The titles are arranged purely by alphabetical order and a link to their catalogue page is included so that you can request any that appeal (requesting children’s titles online using a children’s card is free so if your local library doesn’t have a copy of something, you can request for a copy to collect).
Frank L Baum ‘The Wizard of Oz‘
While the Wicked Witch of the West and the Flying Monkeys are quite terrifying and the deviousness of the Wizard hard to justify, the hugely loveable characters of Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, along with one of the cutest sidekick in literature, Toto make this a great story to escape into.
Davinia Bell ‘Under the Love Umbrella’
This gorgeously illustrated book reminds readers that love is always with us. Used by a member of library staff with their child to help ease feelings of anxiety, this is a perfect book to curl up with and share.
Enid Blyton ‘The Famous Five series’
One that many of us probably read or at least dipped into when we were younger and although the world is a very different place now, classics can often be a comforting read to share with children, connecting them to what you read when you were their age.
Michael Bond ‘A Bear Called Paddington’
Who doesn’t love this story of a marmalade loving bear transported far from his home and finding his way through an unknown world? Bought to life recently in two fantastic films, this book goes back to where it all began and introduces readers to a much loved character.
Roald Dahl, perhaps unsurprisingly, featured twice amongst staff suggestions. In ‘Matilda’, we meet some fantastic characters from the horrible Miss Trunchbull to the hugely supportive Miss Honey, making this one of our favourites. We should mention also the illustrations of Quentin Blake who bought so many of Dahl’s characters to life and whose drawings figure centrally in our imaginations when we think about Roald Dahl’s books. ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ likewise gets a mention as one that staff returned to several times when younger and in need of a pick up (some of us may also have tried to replicate George’s concoction with mixed results that incurred the wrath of a grandparent or two!)
Matt Haig ‘The Truth Pixie’
Combining the writing of award-winning author Matt Haig and the illustrations of Chris Mould, this story follows the Truth Pixie who can only say things that are true. While some of these things might be difficult to hear at times, the book brilliantly shows that the truth is always the best thing in the end. The follow up, ‘The Truth Pixie Goes to School’ is also available.
Tove Jansson ‘Tales from Moomin Valley’
Who doesn’t smile when they see a Moomin? If you’ve never come across them before, try this selection of comic strips featuring Moominmamma and young Moomintroll.
Stella Jones ‘The Only Way is Badger’
Badgers are best. Or so Badger thinks. As he says: ‘If it’s not black and white then it’s just not right!’. But what if he’s wrong? A great book for exploring about how being different is a good thing.
Jeff Kinney ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series
A hugely popular series amongst young readers for several years now, ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid‘ combines characters who get into all kinds of scrapes and face all kinds of challenges with illustrations that are instantly recognisable. Written in a very accessible diary style, this is one that remains a firm favourite as readers follow the ups and downs faced by Greg Heffley and his sidekick, Rowley.
Astrid Lindgren ‘Pippi Longstocking’
Pippi is nine years old, loves adventures and often stays up past her bedtime. Written to amuse children of a similar age, Pippi gets up to all kinds of mischief and was a childhood favourite amongst members of Warwickshire Libraries staff. I always wanted pigtails like Pippi when I was younger.
Jessica Love ‘Julian is a Mermaid’
When Julian meets three spectacularly dressed women on the subway while with his Nana, an urge to be a mermaid starts. Raiding his Nana’s wardrobe, he transforms himself, leading to a tale of acceptance, love and the importance of being yourself. A book that one of our staff called “just one of the best books ever”
Fiona Lumbers ‘I Like Bees, I Don’t Like Honey’
This was one I hadn’t come across before starting on this post and was highlighted by a colleague based in Warwick. A book that highlights the uniqueness of individuality and explains very simply yet effectively how everyone is different and why that’s such a good thing. Perfect for younger children, the illustrations are stunning and this is just a lovely book.
L M Montgomery ‘Anne of Green Gables’
Many of us met Anne when we were younger and followed her story as she went to live with the Cuthberts. Talking non-stop and with an energy that continues no matter what, this book is another to share and escape to.
R J Palacio ‘Wonder’
Meet Auggie Pullman, a boy who, though born with a facial abnormality, is really just your average ten year old boy who wants to be like any other ten year old – going to school and making friends. With trepidation, Auggie is getting his wish and is starting school for the first time after being home schooled. A heartwarming novel of friendship and learning to love yourself, this was made into a film recently and shares its message of acceptance.
Hilda is a blue-haired explorer with her heart set on adventure. In this first story, we meet Hilda on a expedition to illustrate a book of magical creatures. During her travels, she meets a mountain troll, gets caught in a snowstorm and ends up narrowly avoiding being squashed by a giant. Phew!
Dav Pilkey ‘Dog Man’
If you’re familiar with Captain Underpants, then you’ll recognise the characters of George and Harold who make an appearance in what has proven to be a very popular set of books in our libraries. These graphic novels make entertaining reads that will make your readers laugh out loud.
Arthur Ransom ‘Swallows and Amazons’
To John, Susan, Titty and Roger, simply being allowed to use the boat to go camping on the island is adventure enough. They find themselves under attack from the fierce Amazon Pirates, Nancy and Peggy. And so begins a summer of battles and discovery.
If you’re after more book suggestions, have a look at the ‘2020 Read For Empathy’ list from EmpathyLab or the BookTrust website. Both have lots of suggestions for titles that can help spark discussions with children and to support parents and caregivers. BookTrust also has lots of advice on discussing mental health with children and websites of organisations such as Mind, YoungMinds and Action for Children also feature information.
If you feel you need more help with any mental health related issue, whether it’s linked to a child in your care or to yourself, remember that you are not alone. Speak to the people in your life, healthcare professionals such as your GP or someone you trust to find more support.
We’d love to hear your recommendations for mood-boosting titles for children – let us know in the comments or on Twitter.