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Reading Well for children

Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet, Clownfish, Worry Angels

The Reading Agency and Libraries Connected have released a new list of Reading Well books for children, covering mental health, feelings, worries, bullying, tough times, living with a disability and more.

Healthy minds

What's Going On Inside My Head?: starting conversations with your child about positive mental health, by Molly Potter & Sarah Jennings

"We all know that healthy minds are really important but how do we make sure we look after our mental health from a very young age? What's Going On Inside My Head? is a book for children that explores practical ways we can keep our minds in good shape as well as our bodies.

"By talking about positive self-image, emotional intelligence, relationships, and mindfulness, this book will help children develop healthy habits and good coping strategies from the start. Presented in a warm, child-friendly but no-nonsense way, it will help establish solid foundations for every child's current and future wellbeing."

Healthy for Life: Self-esteem and Mental Health, by Anna Claybourne & Dan Bramall

"Growing up isn't always easy - your brain is changing and there's many things to cope with from new emotions to stress. This book explores what is self-esteem and mental health and why it's important and looks at topics such as mental illness, phobias, eating disorders and self-harm. It looks at techniques to deal with issues including stress reduction, mindfulness and assertiveness."

How Not to Lose It: mental health sorted, by Anna Williamson & Sophie Beer

"Family. Friends. Exams. Are you finding life a struggle? At times, it can feel like nothing but problems and pressure. But the good news is that even if you’re struggling to think straight, you can learn to be the boss of your brain.

"Creating healthy habits. Staying in the moment. Breaking negative thought patterns. Finding things to be happy about. Tricks like this are like taking your mood to the gym –helping you feel good and bounce back from obstacles. Attitudes, fears, stress levels: take charge of yours right now!"

Feelings

How Are You Feeling Today?, by Molly Potter & Sarah Jennings

"Children have strong feelings and they can't always handle them very well. Perfect for sharing, How Are You Feeling Today? is packed with fun, imaginative ways to help children understand and cope with a whole range of different emotions.

"A great dip-in book where children can choose a feeling that relates to them and then turn to the page that provides child-friendly strategies for dealing with that feeling. Helpful parent/carer notes at the back of the book provide more ideas for parents to use with their child and other strategies to try out together and practice the all-important skill of dealing with feelings."

Exploring Emotions: a mindfulness guide to dealing with emotions, by Paul Christelis & Elisa Paganelli

"This mindfulness story book for children includes simple mindfulness activities, which have been shown to help relieve stress and anxiety and improve health and mental well-being.This book shows children how to cope with different emotions, from anger and jealous, to sadness and disappointment. The children are gently guided into mindfulness exercises that encourage an exploration of emotions."

Feeling Angry!, by Katie Douglass & Mike Gordon

"This picture book shows different reasons why young people might become angry, illustrates scenarios of them behaving angrily, and gives advice on how to calm anger in yourself and to be able to help other people.

"Ideal for home or classroom, this book contains notes for parents and teachers with suggestions of ways to help children deal with feeling angry."

Sometimes I Feel Sad, by Tom Alexander

"Feeling sad is, unfortunately, a part of everyone's life, and there's not always an easy fix. This touching book helps explain to children that they're not alone in feeling this way, and is especially useful for children who struggle to express their feelings."

Worries

Ruby's Worry, by Tom Percival

"Ruby loves being Ruby. Until, one day, she finds a worry. At first, it's not such a big worry, and that's all right, but then it starts to grow. It gets bigger and bigger every day and it makes Ruby sad. How can Ruby get rid of it and feel like herself again?

"When Ruby makes a friend –who has a worry too –and talks about what's bothering her, everything explodes with colour and the world goes back to normal. Ruby soon realises that everybody gets worries, and they are nothing to be ashamed of.

"This is a perceptive and poignant story about anxiety and how a problem shared is a problem halved."

Questions and Feelings About... Worries, by Paul Christelis & Ximena Jeria

"A gentle, down to earth book for addressing the things that can cause children to be anxious and worried. Mindfulness expert Paul Christelis expertly explores everyday situations in picture book form, helping children to recognise signs of worry and giving them reassurance and simple suggestions on how to cope with any worries."

Grobblechops, by Elizabeth Laird & Jenny Lucander

"Amir doesn’t want to go to bed. He is scared of the dark and afraid there might be a monster under his bed; a monster called Grobblechops who has huge teeth and growls like a tiger.

"Dad reassures Amir that if he growls louder, the monster will go away – but Amir can’t help catastrophising and worrying that Grobblechops’s mum and dad will join in the fight and eat him up. Luckily, Amir’s dad is a bit of an expert when it comes to monsters, and can rationalise and defuse all his son’s anxiety to the point where Grobblechops becomes a friend rather than a threat.

"Stunning, collage-style illustrations reflect the quelling of Amir’s fears as Grobblechops and his parents subtly mutate from frightening to friendly"

Me and My Fear, by Francesca Sanna

"When a young girl has to travel to a new country and start at a new school, her Fear tells her to be alone and afraid. How can she hope to make friends if she doesn't understand their language?

"A heart-warming and relevant new tale from the bestselling author and illustrator of The Journey, this book shows us the importance of sharing your Fear with others - after all, everyone carries a Fear with them, even if it's small enough to fit into their pocket!"

All Birds Have Anxiety, by Kathy Hoopmann

"Life as a bird can be stressful! From worrying about airplanes, windows, and getting enough worms to eat, it is clear that birds can be anxious beings.

"Through a light-touch, quizzical depiction of bird behaviour, All Birds Have Anxiety uses colourful images and astute explanations to explore with gentle humour what it means to live with anxiety day-to-day, and how to begin to deal with it. The combination of understanding and gentle humour makes this the ideal introduction to anxiety disorder for those diagnosed with this condition, their family and friends and those generally interested in understanding anxiety."

Worry Angels, by Sita Brahmachari & Jane Ray

"Amy May knows about webs of worries - so many people she meets are caught in them, from her own artist dad to newly arrived refugee Rima and her family. By being brave enough to open up her worry box, Amy May helps all those around her find a way forward.

"Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers."

Outsmarting Worry, by Dawn Huebner & Kara McHale

"Worry has a way of growing, shifting from not-a-big-deal to a VERY BIG DEAL in the blink of an eye. This big-deal Worry is tricky, luring children into behaviours that keep the anxiety cycle going. Children often find it hard to fight back against Worry, but not anymore.

"Outsmarting Worry teaches 9-13 year-olds and the adults who care about them a specific set of skills that makes it easier to face -and overcome -worries and fears. Smart, practical, proven techniques are presented in language immediately accessible to children with an emphasis on shifting from knowing to doing, from worried to happy and free."

The world around you - at school

Dealing With Bullying, by Jane Lacey & Venitia Dean

"Sometimes you can sort out a problem on your own. But sometimes you need to ask for help.

"This book helps young children to make this decision and find out about and understand bullying. It features seven case studies from children who have a range of bullying problems from a girl who is being left out by her friends to a boy bullied for the way he speaks, and features both verbal and physical bullying."

Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet, by Zanib Mian & Nasaya Mafaridik

"Planet Omar is a book about being different, growing friendships and overcoming hurdles.

"Omar has just moved into a new house with his family: sticky-fingered little brother Esa, snooty older sister Maryam and his scientist parents.Going to a new school turns out to be okay, apart from the fact that class bully Daniel tells Omar that because he's a Muslim, he's going to be kicked out of the country and will have to go and live in Pakistan. Understandably worried, Omar asks his cousin if that's true, and both hope it 7isn't, because there's a distinct lack of good pizza there. Plus, there's mean Mrs Rogers next door who complains loudly about Omar's mum frying onions.

"Yet when mean Mrs Rogers has an accident, Omar's family is there to help. And when Omar and bully Daniel get stranded on a school trip in London, Omar realises that Danny isn't so tough after all..."

Ella on the Outside, by Cath Howe

"Ella is facing some big changes. She's just had to start at a new school, she's moved away from her best friend Grace, her eczema is acting up, and on top of all that, she has a huge secret to keep about her family. So, when Lydia, the most popular girl in school, wants to start hanging out, things must be on the up... right?The only problem is, Lydia really wants to know what Ella's hiding and she's also desperate for intel on the quiet girl in class, Molly. So just how far will Ella go to keep her new friendship?

"Ella on the Outside is a hugely relatable tale that will strike a chord with anyone who has felt the pressure to please a new friend or has struggled to fit in. Ella makes mistakes, but she's also hugely likeable, and author Cath Howe perfectly captures her anxieties and worries."

The world around you - online

#Goldilocks: a hashtag cautionary tale, by Jeanne Willis & Tony Ross

"Everyone loves Goldilocks’ hilarious online videos, but in her quest to get more likes, more laughs and more hits, she tries something a little more daring: stealing porridge #pipinghot, breaking chairs #fun, and using someone else’s bed #sleep. What will Daddy Bear do when he sees that online?

"A hilarious cautionary tale for a new generation of internet-users from the prize-winning partnership of Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross, the third of its kind following Chicken Clicking and Troll Stinks."

The world around you - in the news

Something Bad Happened: a kid's guide to coping with events in the news, by Dawn Hueber & Kara McHale

"Full of advice for children who may be worried about events in the news, this guide from best-selling author Dawn Huebner offers advice for having tough conversations with 6-12 year olds about world events such as natural disasters, terrorism and war. It addresses common questions and provides tools to calm fears."

Dealing with tough times - when someone dies

Mum's Jumper, by Jayde Perkin

"If Mum has gone, how do you carry on? Missing her feels like a dark cloud that follows you around, or like swimming to a shore that never comes any nearer. But memories are like a jumper that you can cuddle and wear. And Mum's jumper might be a way to keep her close.

"A simple, heartfelt and ultimately uplifting book for anyone coping with loss."

Michael Rosen's Sad Book, by Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake

"We all have 'sad stuff' to deal with in life. What makes Michael Rosen most sad is thinking about his son, Eddie, who died. In this book he writes about his sadness, how it affects him, and some of the things he does to try to cope with it."

If All the World Were, by Joseph Coelho & Allison Colpoys

"A moving, lyrical picture book about a young girl's love for her granddad and how she copes when he dies, written by poet and playwright Joseph Coelho.

"This beautifully illustrated, powerful and ultimately uplifting text is the ideal way to introduce children to the concept of death and dying, particularly children who have lost a grandparent."

Clownfish, by Alan Durant

"Dak's dad has been dead for seven days when suddenly he reappears. He's the same in almost every way, with one startling exception: Dad has turned into a clownfish, and now lives in a tank at their local aquarium.

"Dak is delighted by the news – he has Dad back, even if he isn't quite as he was before. Deciding to keep Dad's transformation a secret, Dak visits him at the aquarium as often as he can and ends up spending so much time there that they offer him a job.

"This is how he comes to meet Violet, the owner's prickly but kind-hearted niece; when the aquarium is threatened with closure, the pair must work together to save it. For Dak, the stakes couldn't be higher... after all, if the aquarium shuts down, what will happen to the fish?"

Dealing with tough times - getting through a tough time

The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself, by Ali Redford & Kara Simpson

"Boy built a wall to keep himself safe. Behind it he felt strong and more protected. Then Someone Kind came along. She bounced a ball, sang and painted on the other side of the wall, and Boy began to wonder if life on the other side might be better after all.

"Written for children aged 4 to 9, this gentle full-colour picture book uses a simple metaphor to explain how children who have had painful or traumatic experiences can build barriers between themselves and other people. It will help children explore their feelings and encourage communication."

Up and Down Mum, by Child's Play & Summer Macon

"Living with Mum is a bit like a roller coaster ride. At times, she is excited and full of energy, but at others, she is tired and withdrawn. But she’s always my mum, and we’re sharing the ride.

"For children who grow up in the care of a parent with mental health problems, life can be filled with anxiety and uncertainty. With the aid of a clear and simple information spread, this story helps us to understand the causes of mental illness and how we can learn to live with someone who has it.

"Developed in close consultation with families with parental mental health conditions and created in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust."

The Colour Thief: a family's story of depression, by Andrew Fusek Peters, Polly Peters & Karin Littlewood

"The Colour Thief is a simple, heart-warming tale which helps to open up the conversations around depression and to support young children whose families have been affected. We follow a young boy who loves spending time with his dad, doing fun things together. When his father becomes sad and distant, he doesn't understand and believes he has done something to make his dad so, despite being told otherwise.

"Narrated from the child's perspective, this is the perfect book to read with children who are trying to understand the cause and effects of depression and reassure them that depression passes, and their parents are not lost to them."

When you have a diagnosis - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Can I Tell You About ADHD?, by Susan Yarney & Chris Martin

"Meet Ben -a young boy with ADHD. Ben invites readers to learn about ADHD from his perspective. He helps children understand what it means to have ADHD and describes what it is and how it feels. Ben explains how he was diagnosed and what he has learnt about ways to relieve his ADHD symptoms, and how friends and adults can help at home and school.

"This illustrated book is full of useful information and will be an ideal introduction for young people, aged 7 and upwards, as well as parents, friends, teachers and professionals working with children with ADHD. It is also an excellent starting point for family and classroom discussions."

Check Mates, by Stewart Foster

"Felix is struggling at school. His ADHD makes it hard for him to concentrate and his grades are slipping. Everyone keeps telling him to try harder, but no one seems to understand just how hard he finds it.

"When Mum suggests Felix spends time with his grandfather, Felix can’t think of anything worse. Granddad hasn’t been the same since Grandma died. Plus,he’s always trying to teach Felix boring chess. But sometimes the best lessons come in the most unexpected of places, and Granddad soon shows Felix that there’s everything to play for."

When you have a diagnosis - Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Questions and Feelings About... Autism, by Louise Spilsbury & Ximena Jeria

"This book explores the many aspects of autism in a child-friendly way. It offers practical help, tips and advice as well as exploring everyday situations, supported by, exquisite and approachable illustrations to give a comforting story book feel, particularly suited to 5-7 year-olds, but with scope to appeal to both younger and older children. A perfect aid to help children open up and explore how they feel and give steps they can take to help them cope."

M is for Autism, by Vicky Martin, Luna Pérez & the students of Limpsfield Grange School

"Welcome to M's world. It's tipsy-turvy, sweet and sour, and the beast of anxiety lurks outside classrooms ready to pounce. M just wants to be like other teenagers her age who always know what to say and what to do. So why does it feel like she lives on a different plane of existence to everyone else?

"Written by the students of Limpsfield Grange, a school for girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder with communication and interaction difficulties, M is for Autism draws on real life experiences to create a heartfelt and humorous novel that captures the highs and lows of being different in a world of normal."

When you have a diagnosis - dyslexia

The Illustrated Guide to Dyslexia and its Amazing People, by Kate Power & Kathy Iwanczak Forsyth

"Use this guide to weed out what dyslexia means for you and discover the tools you need to blossom! Dyslexia comes to life with visual imagery and colourful text in this new book on what dyslexia means, how it feels, what to do about it, and how to learn to embrace it.

"This beautifully designed book, complete with stunning visuals and gentle humour, approaches the subject of dyslexia in a simple and encouraging way for all age groups. By showing what dyslexia is and asking the reader how it applies to them, this book offers a fun and engaging means of working out how dyslexia affects the individual specifically, with a multitude of learning tools and tips, and a gallery of inspirational dyslexics who have used their particular skills to do something amazing with their lives."

When you have a diagnosis - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Double Felix, by Sally Harris & Maria Serrano

"He skips every second step when he takes the stairs, taps door handles twice and positions objects in pairs. The problem has become so bad that Felix is on the verge of being expelled from school because the principal has had enough of trying to run the school around his very specific rules.

"Then Charlie Pye arrives and turns his world upside down. She is grown up with very few rules. She eats cereal for lunch, calls a boat home, and has a very loose interpretation of school uniform. The question is, can Felix ever learn to be wrong when he is so obsessed with being right?"

When you have a diagnosis - having a disability

Questions and Feelings About... Having a Disability, by Louise Spilsbury & Ximena Jeria

"How do you help a young child deal with disability or explain what that means? This hands-on picture book is designed to help children with their questions and feelings about tricky topics that can be hard to talk about. The exquisite and approachable illustrations to give a comforting story book feel. A perfect aid to help children open up and explore how they feel and steps they can take to help them cope."