In the wake of multiple lockdowns and as a result of a mental health service struggling to keep up with demand, there has been a worrying rise in the number of children suffering from a mental health condition. This increase has resulted in the publication of lots of wonderful journals and activity books designed to help children become more self-aware, empowered, and confident.
In this post, I shall be sharing some of the books I’ve been sent in the hope that they may help support a child in need.
Life can be tricky. You have school, homework, hobbies and friendships to juggle . . . and all the time you’re trying to work out what sort of person you want to be. Do you know who can help you? A lion. A koala. Even . . . a wombat. Animals have so much to say about how to be brave, confident and kind. So step into the wild, listen to the animals around you . . . and learn how to be the best YOU you can be!
I absolutely LOVE that this book draws inspiration from the animal kingdom to help encourage people to ‘bee yourself’ or ‘roar with pride.’ It’s so very funny and wise, and full of heart-warming animal illustrations to brighten up the reader’s day. I can see this being a hit with readers aged 9+
‘It’s rock solid ‘personal development’ with a difference. A BIG difference! It’s aimed at 7 to 11s, the exact age when mental habits are created. The book picks up where Diary of a Brilliant Kid left off – raising the bar from mental health to mental wealth, enabling young people to flourish in a world that’s hell bent on knocking them sideways.
It’s about happiness and wellbeing. It tells you how to shine when the world’s a bit dull. It’s about learning to be your best self and hanging in there when the world’s doing its worst. It’s got oodles of content about self-care, kindness and confidence. It’s got facts, diagrams, stories, activities, quotes and jam. Yes jam, the sticky sweet stuff we all love.
It’s about setting you up for a long and happy life. This number 2 will make your eyes water but leave you with a big smile on your face.’
A book which comes with a built-in silliness scale and poo jokes is always going to be popular with younger children. I like that this book doesn’t encourage readers to strive for perfection, but rather just to be the best person they can be. Perfection is often and unrealistic goal. 7+
‘Clare Balding, TV presenter, sportswoman and bestselling author has had some spectacular falls in her life – from not fitting in at school and falling in with the wrong crowd, to last-minute hiccups and mistakes on live TV – so she knows what it takes to embrace your mistakes and move on from them!
With personal stories from Clare herself and from the lives of the people she most admires, children will discover how to develop courage in the face of tough situations. Find out how Charlotte Raubenheimer of South Africa completed a triathlon while in lockdown at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Marvel at the amazing story of US surfer Bethany Hamilton, who got back in the water just one month after she lost her arm in a shark attack, going on to win her first US national surfing competition two years later. Plus many more stories including that of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, US soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe, Dutch inventor Boyan Slat and Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg.’
I think the limited colour palette and cool styling would make this title appeal more to children in Upper Key Stage 2 (9+.) Relating key concepts back to sport make them easy children for children to understand and apply on their own lives. They’ll also enjoy reading about how some of their sporting heroes deal with challenging situations. A great range of relevant topics are covered. Pivoting, bouncing back, and motivating yourself are skills which will stand a person in good stead as they move through school and into the adult world too.
‘A calming activity book to help children explore their emotions and focus on the things that make them feel happy and confident.
This fun, friendly book is filled with mindful activities and prompts to encourage readers to express their emotions on the page, including drawing pages, breathing techniques and inspirational quotes. It also provides a safe space for the reader to explore feelings such as low self-esteem and anxiety, with practical tips and information presented in a supportive and affirming way.
The book has been developed in consultation with a children’s mental health charity, Blue Smile, and a royalty of UK sales will be donated to the charity.’
This would be a good choice for any child aged 7+. The vibrant pages are full spaces to draw, to doodle, and to make lists. The book is also full exercises and affirmations to help inspire a sense of calm. It covers a wide range of topics such as friendship, resilience, and aspiration in useful and practical manner.
‘The death of a parent, sibling or friend is one of the most traumatic experiences for a child or young person and it can be hard to know how to talk to them about it. In this honest, comforting and strength-building guide Julie Stokes, a clinical psychologist and founder of childhood bereavement charity Winston’s Wish, provides readers with the tools they need to navigate this tough and turbulent time.
Readers will discover the stories of other people who have been through grief themselves. They will learn how to flex their ‘grief muscles’ in order to develop confidence, trust, grit, a resilient mindset and flexible feelings - the ability to notice, accept and talk about emotions when they choose to. And packed with practical exercises, such as creating memory boxes and managing different kinds of memories using ‘memory stones’, this guide will give readers helpful ways to manage their grief so they can begin to move forward with life.
Because there is no right or wrong way to grieve, you just need to find your own way – and you will be okay.’
This title is slightly more specialised than some of the others in that it aims to equip readers with the tools needed to navigate grief when it arises. It has been expertly written to support and comfort readers who have recently experienced loss, and to help them realise that there is no right or wrong way to be feeling.
I would always recommend exploring books and the emotion of grief with children well before they encounter it in their own lives. We need to be proactive in preparing children for uncomfortable and upsetting emotions rather than reactive. Books with these themes should be threaded into a school’s PSHE or reading curriculum.
‘The Book of Me is a guided journal of self-discovery. It takes readers on a journey inside themselves, helping them explore their mind, their moods, their imagination, their conscience, and how they determine the course of their lives. Alongside wise and engaging explanations of ideas, each chapter contains a wealth of interactive exercises that together help to create a rich and unique self-portrait. Through writing, drawing, cutting out and colouring in, children can begin to untangle the mysteries of existence and work out who they really are (and who they might become…).’
This book is full of opportunities for children to write, draw, and colour in as they go on an empowering journey of self-discovery. It encourages readers to reflect on what’s important to them and helps them develop the skills need to be a compassionate and well-rounded individual. It’s very practical and hand-on, designed for children aged 9+
‘Marcus Rashford MBE is famous worldwide for his skills both on and off the pitch – but before he was a Manchester United and England footballer, and long before he started his inspiring campaign to end child food poverty, he was just an ordinary kid from Wythenshawe, South Manchester. Now the nation’s favourite footballer wants to show YOU how to achieve your dreams, in this positive and inspiring guide for life.
Written with journalist Carl Anka, You Are a Champion is packed full of stories from Marcus’s own life, brilliant advice and top-tips from performance psychologist Katie Warriner. It will show you how to be the very BEST that you can be.
It shows kids how to:
– Be comfortable with who you are – you can’t be a champion until you’re happy being you!
– Dream big
– Practise like a champion
– Get out of your comfort zone and learn from your mistakes
– Navigate adversity in a positive way
– Find your team
– Use your voice and stand up for others
– Never stop learning’
This has already proven a huge hit in schools, with the presence of footballing hero Marcus Rashford on the cover being a real draw for readers who may otherwise be reluctant to explore a title like this. It draws on Marcus’s own experience and offers solid advice to those looking to find their voice and get out of their comfort zones. It would make a great Christmas gift for anyone aged 9+, whether they’re a football fan or not.
‘Some events in life will always be out of our control, whether it’s a global crisis or a traumatic event at home – but Be Resilient shows that the power to cope is in our hands. Discover how to develop the skill of mental resilience in this fascinating guide from award-winning author and teenage brain expert Nicola Morgan. From building a support network to building optimism, find positive, practical advice for preparing for, coping with and bouncing back from the toughest of times. Authoritative and backed by the latest science, this is a reassuring companion for teenagers everywhere.’
This is a great guide for teens and their carers. It combines useful common sense advice about things like how to start a possibly uncomfortable conversation with someone, identifying and combatting symptoms of stress, and building yourself a support network. I like that it clearly explains the reasoning and science behind the advice being given. Teens often want to why they should do or try something, and this book tells them! One I shall be keeping to pass on to my almost a teenager son when the time is right. 12+
These are just a few of the wonderful books now available to support young people. If you’re looking for more books with a mental health theme, take a look HERE on my blog. For more titles with theme of bereavement, look HERE.
*Many thanks to all the publishers who sent me these titles to review*