Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Good Books for Tough Times

As a parent there are times when you have to discuss things with your children that make you feel awkward, uncomfortable or just plain inadequate.  The death of a pet, losing a grandparent, divorce or parental depression are realities that affect our children.  There are situations that young people find themselves in that can make them feel alone and afraid.

A children's charity has recognised the value of reading relevant storybooks during hard times, to help children cope with difficult feelings or situations such as bereavement, bullying or family break-ups, and has launched a new independent guide to recommend relevant material.  Partnership for Children's Good Books for Tough Times has been sent to 23,000 primary schools, 3500 libraries and is available free online for parents.  The guide will help parents, teachers and librarians find the right books to help children going through difficult circumstances.  It can help children deal with anxiety and give them a sense of perspective.  Reading a story about someone who has gone through a similar experience and come through it, is a real source of comfort to a child.  The promotion of mental and emotional wellbeing for life is the aim of this charity, and if children can find comfort through reading and be encouraged to speak out if they are anxious, then it is a positive step in the right direction.

Michael Morpurgo said "Reading is probably the best therapy there is, other than talking to Mum or Dad."

The latest edition of the guide (following on from an earlier version for 5-8 year olds)  focuses on the 9-12 age group and recommends 59 books.  The guide is divided into the following topics:
  • Friendship and Difference
  • Bullying
  • Family Issues
  • Bereavement
  • Coming of Age
David Walliams's "The Boy in the Dress" is featured and shows, in an entertaining way, that it is OK to be different.  It celebrates the right of everyone to be themselves!

Roald Dahl's "Matilda" will hearten any child being bullied and give them confidence and hope.

Jacqueline Wilson's "The Illustrated Mum" deals with mental illness in the family.  The story tells of sisters dealing with a manic depressive, single parent mother.

Suzanne LaFleur's "Love, Aubrey" is a beautifully written novel about bereavement,  loss, understanding, forgiveness and ultimately hope.  

Kelli Dunham's "The Boys'/Girls' Body Book" gives clear factual information on growing up, bodily changes, emotional problems and stressful situations.  It is presented in a friendly, reassuring, non-patronising way.

The "Harry Potter" series is also recommended as books dealing with friendship, bereavement, growing up, loneliness and loss.

The list is available free of charge online  here.  There is lots of information and advice on the site.  So whether your child is an independent reader or if you snuggle up to read together, you will find entertaining, enjoyable reviews with suggestions that might just help your child through a hard time.


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