We are currently living in challenging times. Now more than ever, it is important to equip ourselves and the young people in our lives with different ways to deal with worry, stress, anxiety and uncertainty. To coincide with the release of our comprehensive reading guide, Mind Yourself: The Mental Health and Wellbeing Guide, this month’s theme is on worry. How to recognise it, allow space to share and talk about it, and discuss different ways to cope and deal with worry when it arises. We all know the importance of staying calm in a crisis and how crucial that is to reassure younger people. With this in mind, we have a fantastic selection of books that address the many worries children might have, as well as provide a good opportunity to discuss different reactions and encourage ways to develop coping mechanisms.
There’s something very comforting about relating to a particular story or reading about a character dealing with worry. These stories often remind young readers that they are not alone and that other people worry too. Different situations and how they are resolved can provide solace, comfort and reassurance to readers of all ages, as well as provide useful tips on how to deal with situations. We have an amazing collection of perceptive and poignant stories to share with you.
For ages 2–5,Bethany Christou’s gorgeous picturebook Nervous Nigel about an anxious crocodile captures worry and anxiety perfectly. Jeremy Worried About the Wind by Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Kate Hindley, explores different reactions to many situations, including getting swept away. Jeremy worries about everything, including looking after his friend Maggie, who doesn’t worry about anything. Join them on an incredible journey. The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright and Jim Field is a compassionate tale of Kevin the Koala who doesn’t like change, but knows he can’t cling to his tree forever or can he?
Fot the 5–8’s there’s lots of brilliant books for newly independent readers or those learning to read a vocabulary of emotions, they highlight that everyone worries about something. One of the Usborne Young Reading series, Billy and the Mini Monsters: Monsters at the Seaside by Zanna Davidson and Melanie Williamson is an exciting adventure about a trip to the seaside. What could go wrong? Kids Can Cope: Put Your Worries Away by Gill Hasson, illustrated by Sarah Jennings, is a wonderful resource book with practical tips and suggestions to deal with this strong emotion. One of the clear messages is to remember the benefits of sharing, opening up and taking calculating chances and mastering achievable tasks. The Unworry Magic Paint Book by Emily Beevers and Eddie Reynolds, is a practical and enjoyable way to put worries aside with sixteen detailed pictures to paint. Tom Percival fans of the excellent picturebook Ruby’s Worry, which focuses on this tricky universal emotion, will recognise his appealing illustration style and conversational text in Attack of the Heebie Jeebies. This latest book is for emerging readers and focuses on worry. Described as ‘unhelpful circling thoughts’, What’s Worrying You? focuses on a mindfulness-based approach. A useful resource for discussing emotions, including a glossary of feelings.
8–12-year-olds will be drawn to the cartoon style and accessible text in The Worry (Less) Book by Rachael Brian. Don’t Worry, Be Happy: A Child’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Poppy O’Neill is another excellent book for this age group. It provides good opportunities to discuss different reactions to certain situations and encourages ways to develop various coping mechanisms through fun and engaging activities.
Mind Yourself: The Mental Health and Wellbeing Guide is available in libraries to download from www.childrensbooksireland.ie
Holy Shocking Saints: The Extraordinary Lives of Twelve Irish Saints by Síne Quinn and Margaret Anne Suggs is due out at the end of October. Síne Quinn, M.Phil Children’s Literature, is the managing editor at Cubicle 7 Entertainment. A Children’s Books Ireland book doctor and creative writing teacher with the Bookmarks programme at TCD, she also provides editorial and writing support to publishers.
Jeremy Worried About the Wind by Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Kate Hindley, Nosy Crow, ISBN 9781788007757
From Blue Peter award-winning author of Wigglesbottom Primary Pamela Butchart comes this hilarious picturebook, which will entertain and reassure young readers in equal measure, especially ones who have tendency to worry a lot. Fans of The Same But Different Too (text by Karl Newson) and You Must Bring a Hat (text by Simon Philips) will recognise Kate Hindley’s distinct, expressive and amusing illustrations. Follow ‘a day in the life’ of Jeremy as he worries about many things, including yellow bananas, evil squirrels and uncooperative zips. Readers will find themselves swept away in one big blast of blustery wind, joining Jeremy and Maggie on an extraordinary adventure. (Age 2–5)
Kids Can Cope: Put Your Worries Away by Gill Hasson, illustrated by Sarah Jennings, Franklin Watts, ISBN 9781445166049
This is a valuable and practical non-fiction resource book that will be beneficial in both schools and homes. Gill Hasson outlines simple steps and clear information and suggested activities that are inviting and achievable. With practical tips and solutions of ways to deal with worry, suggestions include sharing your worry by discussing it with someone else. It addresses unseen, or real and imagined worries (monsters under the bed, burglars breaking in) to day-to-day worries (school tests, illness, moving house or school). Sarah Jennings’s illustrations are warm, colourful and expressive. It also provides useful advice for guardians, teachers, parents and carers highlighting ways to help children feel more in control of their emotions and putting their fears into perspective. (Age 5–8)
Dream Team: Attack of the Heebie Jeebies by Tom Percival, Macmillan Children’s Books, ISBN 9781529029154
Tom Percival is adept at writing and illustrating children’s stories on feelings, emotions and worries. Dream Team: Attack of the Heebie Jeebies is the first book in a new illustrated series for emerging readers exploring worry and anxiety through an out of this world adventure. When Erika losses her temper, she really loses it! When her younger brother Randall annoys her again, she can’t help shouting at him, even if it makes her feel worse. When she falls asleep after another shouting match, she finds herself in the Dreamscape with a gang of Heebie Jeebies. Can the Dream Team bring her home in time to escape the Angermare? (Age 5–8)
The Worry (Less) Book by Rachael Brian, Wren & Rook, ISBN 9781526362780
The Worry (Less) Book addresses a universal theme that everyone has experienced, faces on a daily basis or has faced … worry! This fantastic book reminds readers that we can’t control everything in our life, and us with realistic ways and practical steps to deal with our worries. It outlines ways to view them as not insurmountable, but achievable. Engaging, succinct explanations and easy-to-read text, complemented by the simple striking black and white illustrations with highlights of yellow, outlines how to prevent this emotion blocking your healthy life. With a brilliant inspirational subtitle, ‘Feel strong, find calm, and Tame Your Anxiety!’ Rachael Brian’s book is one that everyone will want to read. (Age 8–12)