Books For Young Children Around Mental Health

In keeping with mental health awareness week, I thought I’d put out some recommendations for mental health awareness for young children. The book image goes to Goodreads!

The Cloud

Everyone has bad days, and children are no exception. When a black cloud descends on a little girl at school, support from a classmate with a great deal of imagination helps to brighten up everyone’s lives. 

The Color Thief: A Family's Story of Depression

A child recounts his experience of losing his father to depression in this poignant and beautifully illustrated picture book. The boy’s father disappears into a world without color. As the father seeks help, color begins to reappear and with it hope. 

This is such an important, powerful book!

The Goldfish Boy

Matthew Corbin suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He hasn’t been to school in weeks. His hands are cracked and bleeding from cleaning. He refuses to leave his bedroom. To pass the time, he observes his neighbors from his bedroom window, making mundane notes about their habits as they bustle about the cul-de-sac. 

When a toddler staying next door goes missing, it becomes apparent that Matthew was the last person to see him alive. Suddenly, Matthew finds himself at the center of a high-stakes mystery, and every one of his neighbors is a suspect. Matthew is the key to figuring out what happened and potentially saving a child’s life… but is he able to do so if it means exposing his own secrets, and stepping out from the safety of his home?

I’m yet to read this book but I have heard such amazing things about it. The main character has OCD. It’s aimed at middle grade aged children!

The Red Tree

When a child awakens with dark leaves drifting into her bedroom, she feels that ‘sometimes the day begins with nothing to look forward to, and things go from bad to worse.’

Feelings too complex for words are rendered into an imaginary landscape where the child wanders, oblivious to the glimmer of promise in the shape of a tiny red leaf. 

Everything seems hopeless until the child returns to her room and sees the red tree. At that perfect moment of beauty and purity, the child smiles and her world stirs anew.

I truly believe there is no harm in children learning about mental health. I know I experience children with anxiety in the class and some even with self-harm issues. We need to educate our young children to deal with their mental/emotional health. It’s just as important as our physical health. I’m thrilled that so many books are now representing mental health. It’s not only something adults experience.

 

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Chrissi’s Class Reads #12

We’ve read another 5 books, so I thought I’d update you on them for my post today! As ever, book images go to Goodreads.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #1)

I really am not the biggest fan of Wimpy Kid but the children really seem to love it and I’m one to go with the children’s passions. This was one of our books we read for pleasure.

The Firework-Maker's Daughter

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this wonderful book. I am not always the biggest fan of Philip Pullman’s writing, but this one was so gripping and the children loved it.

Dear Greenpeace

We used this in our writing lesson as we’ve been learning about environmental issues. It’s a sweet story about a girl who believes there’s a whale in her pond. She writes letters to Greenpeace and they write back to her with some advice.


The Paper Bag Princess

I used this book in a PSHE lesson (Personal, Social, Health). I used it to discuss stereotypes.

How to Live Forever

I absolutely loved this book which we’ve read as part of our reading books. I am a big promoter of picture books to children as there’s some really detailed picture books with complex issues that are aimed at older children. We had this massive debate about immortality. It was fantastic.

What do you think of the books we’ve read recently? Have you read any of them?

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Demon Dentist

Demon Dentist

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Darkness had come to the town. Strange things were happening in the dead of night. Children would put a tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy, but in the morning they would wake up to find… a dead slug; a live spider; hundreds of earwigs creeping and crawling beneath their pillow.

Evil was at work. But who or what was behind it…?

Thoughts:

I have been loving reading David Walliams for the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit challenge. He is a fantastic author. I know the children in my school adore reading his books. I truly do think he is the closest modern writer to Roald Dahl. He certainly writes in a similar vein. I was excited to read Demon Dentist. It is quite a big book at over 400 pages long, but it doesn’t take long to get through.

Demon Dentist, as you might get from the title is quite a scary book for younger children. It’s about a crazy dentist ripping young children’s teeth out! I would definitely not give this book to a child that had a dentist phobia! Ha! Instead of the tooth fairy leaving a shiny coin, terrible things are left under children’s pillows. Like stuff of nightmares. Dead slugs, a live spider? *vomit*. It’s not a pleasant read!

Tony Ross has done a fabulous job with the illustrations. They are quite dark and sinister, especially the dentist and her cat Fang! I really do think this book is not one for the younger, more sensitive child.  I can imagine it freaking me out when I was younger, but my class (7-9 year olds) have read and enjoyed this book. Perhaps they’re more hardy than I give them credit for. Or I was a wimp as a child? That’s more likely!

I’ve come to expect some sad elements in book by David Walliams. There is another sad side to this story, but I personally think it’s good that David does deal with sadness. It’s so important for children to learn that life isn’t always happy. So many children experience hardship and I think it’s vital for it to be represented in literature that they’ll read and can relate to.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE. Her review will be up over the weekend!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (May):
The Enchanted Wood- Enid Blyton

Banned Books #57- Uncle Bobby’s Wedding

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen.

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Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen
First published: 2008
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2008 (source)
Reasons: homosexuality, unsuited to age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: No, no and no some more. I get so wound up when a book as sweet and inoffensive like this is challenged on grounds of homosexuality. I don’t understand it that as recently as ten years ago (which still feels to me like yesterday!) that individuals were challenging books for children because it featured gay characters. I think I would understand (but definitely NOT accept) the challenging if it was in less enlightened times when homosexuality was illegal and a lot of people had a problem with it. But to use it as a reason to restrict access to a book in the 2000’s. Really?

CHRISSI: What Beth said. I actually find it offensive that this book was even challenged! It is such a sweet story and it’s told in such a gentle way. What message does it send young children if a book like this is challenged/banned? That’s it wrong to have a homosexual in your family? Argh, it makes me so cross. I know a lot of children who do have two mothers and my heart hurts to think that they would believe it’s ‘wrong’. Children should see a representation of every type of family to open their minds and address stereotypes.

How about now?

BETH: I think you can already see from my previous answer that I very much disagree. Since 2008, I would have loved to believe we are becoming more accepting of individuals beliefs and desires but sadly, although I think there has been a lot of progress, there is still a lot more work to do. There will always be people who have quite extreme ideas about what is right and what is wrong and they’re entitled to their own opinion but when they use it to try and change other people’s minds/hurt the target individuals that they have a problem with, that’s when I have a problem too.

CHRISSI: I think there’s so much work to be done. Children are so much more accepting than adults and I wonder when that acceptance starts to get lost, or why it gets lost. When is it that we begin to judge so much? I know children don’t. When I get asked why a certain person has two mothers/fathers in class, the children accept it without questioning. Books like this NEED to be about so children know that it’s not abnormal to have a different family set up.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I found this book to be a very adorable and informative read, especially for younger children. It’s a fantastic way of introducing children to LGBT issues and the fact that people should be free to love/marry whomever they want. I would be happy to read it with any children I come across and would be delighted to see it in schools, available for children to enjoy.

CHRISSI: It’s adorable and I’d be happy to read it to any child in my school!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The BFG

The BFG

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Matilda

Synopsis:

When Sophie is snatched from her orphanage bed by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), she fears she will be eaten. But instead the two join forces to vanquish the nine other far less gentle giants who threaten to consume earth’s children. 

Thoughts:

I bloomin’ love The BFG. Roald Dahl is one of my favourite writers. I absolutely loved him as a child and I still love his work as an adult. I read him to children in my class and they love him. I read this book on a train journey and I actually laughed out loud. Roald Dahl’s writing is so accessible to young children. His work is just as good in 2019 as it was back in the 90s when I first read it.

If you don’t know much about the story, then where have you been? It’s a classic! Sophie is snatched from the orphanage by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant). She’s terrified that she’s going to eaten but he couldn’t be further from a terrifying giant. He’s a lovable, sweet friend to her. The two of them join forces and work out a plan to save the children of the world from the other horrifying giants!

The BFG himself is one of my favourite characters. He’s adorable and oh so loveable. I love the words that he makes up! ❤ His lack of education is what makes him so endearing. I hated every moment when Sophie corrected him. Let him be, Sophie! He’s the sweetest. This book just warms my heart and I’m so glad I re-read it this year.

I adore Quentin Blake’s illustrations. His illustrations certainly add something to the story. They’re so timeless. Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake were a dream team.

I would highly recommend the older movie if you haven’t seen it too. I have such fond memories of it.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

Next up on Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit (March):
The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3)- Rick Riordan

Banned Books #56- Northern Lights/The Golden Compass

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials, #1)

First published: 1995
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2008 (source)
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Of course not. I’m one of those people who never experienced reading the His Dark Materials series as a child so I only came to it with an adult mentality. Either way, I think I would have had the same opinion. There is no reason on earth why this book should be challenged or banned, ESPECIALLY for the reasons mentioned. As always, I tried to guess the reasons why this book, the first in the series, might have been difficult for some people to stomach and once again, I was completely wrong. I assumed that the fantasy/magical aspect might have offended a few people (even though children clearly love a good, imaginative narrative that doesn’t necessary have to be believable!).

CHRISSI: I have to say no. It’s a load of poppycock. I have no idea why this book was challenged. Like Beth, I thought it might be about the fantasy elements, I know some of the parents of children at my school don’t like fantasy because of religious reasons and I wondered whether that could be it. No. Political viewpoint? Religious viewpoint? This confuses me.

How about now?

BETH: Northern Lights was challenged over ten years after it was published and to be honest, I’m struggling to see why if there were challenges from concerned readers, they didn’t appear prior to 2008? If anyone has any ideas, please do enlighten me! Additionally, it really does irritate me when the reasons for challenging a book point towards a political or religious viewpoint. Now, I’m not a particularly political or religious individual BUT I do like to learn about different attitudes/cultures and viewpoints and I very much enjoy it when there’s a difference of opinion to my own in a novel, unless I feel like I’m being preached to. Saying that however, I really didn’t think there was a strong viewpoint either political or religious in Northern Lights and I’m a bit confused as to where this reasoning has come from?

CHRISSI: I am utterly confused by the reasons for challenging this book. I didn’t think it had a particularly strong political or religious viewpoint. Even if it did, why does it matter? Why should it be banned? Shouldn’t we be allowed to make our own minds up? Shouldn’t we open our minds a little to other’s views?

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I really love His Dark Materials as a series but particularly this first novel, Northern Lights. Lyra is a wonderfully rich character who never fails to make me laugh, the world-building is imaginative and thought-provoking and I adored the adventure aspect of the entire novel. Plus, I absolutely love the idea of having a daemon companion as a unique part of your personality. I’d love to know what yours would be in the comment below if you’ve read this book? Mine would be a ring-tailed lemur!

CHRISSI: Ooh. This is a toughie. Whilst I appreciate that Philip Pullman is a talented writer and that this story is fabulously creative… there’s something about it that I don’t connect with. I have a disconnect with it and I can’t tell why. I usually like fantasy/magical reads but this one leaves me quite cold. I know I am in the minority with that. I certainly wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading it! Oh and my daemon would definitely be a lop eared rabbit!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends—Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.

But none of them can believe Margaret doesn’t have religion, and that she isn’t going to the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own very special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything—family, friends, even Moose Freed, her secret crush.

Margaret is funny and real, and her thoughts and feelings are oh-so-relatable—you’ll feel like she’s talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend.

Thoughts:

My sister was such a fan of Judy Blume when she was younger, and she is still, to be honest. Let’s not mention her fan-girl behaviour when she met her at YALC a few years back! (Ha!) I was happy to read another book by Judy. It was a re-read for me as I remember reading this book when I was younger. It’s still as heart-warming as it was back then. Judy Blume was writing before Young Adult was really a thing and this book is a little more than middle grade but not quite young adult.

It centres around Margaret who has moved to New York and joined a secret club with some new friends. Margaret and her friends love talking about personal subjects privately with one another. They talk about boys, bras and periods. Margaret doesn’t have a religion and her friends find this hard to believe or understand. What they don’t know is that Margaret privately speaks to God and that’s enough for her.

I absolutely loved this book because I could see a lot of Margaret in my young self. I didn’t talk to God but I was desperate to ‘grow up.’ I think having an older sister definitely made me want to be more like her. I knew I was longing to have my period and then when it arrived I was excited… until the cramps started! Ha. Margaret is such a relatable character to many young girls. I really don’t think this book has aged much at all. Obviously, there’s more choice for sanitary products, but aside from that it’s still very relevant. I’m reading it decade on from its release and it doesn’t seem dated at all. True testament for superb writing from Judy Blume!

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (February):
The BFG- Roald Dahl