The Library Corner February 2021
By Mrs Campling, School Librarian
Reading and Mental Health
C.S Lewis is quoted as saying:
“Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage”.
What he meant was that although we will face many unpleasant things in life, reading about ‘cruel enemies’ being overcome equips us to hope and persevere, whatever our ‘enemies’ may be.
Every human experience can be found in the pages of a book, either plainly or in metaphor, and with them the hope that we are not alone, and that whatever we happen to be facing will undoubtedly be resolved before our book is over. We may face dragons or monsters, but what we read helps us to believe that they can be beaten!
This is one of the reasons that representation in fiction is so important: when we see ourselves reflected in a character, we can identify with their struggle and with their success. When children open a book and find characters that look or sound or act like they do, it opens a pathway in their brain to think “hey, that person is like me, if they can do it then maybe I can too!”.
Thankfully there is a much broader range of representation in books now than there used to be, and I’m proud to say that the library is becoming more and more inclusive with each batch of new books we buy; both in terms of characters, and in terms of content.
Gone are the days of football stories for boys and animal stories for girls (although these do remain popular!), and instead OWPS readers can find on our shelves books about children who fight literal monsters and their own personal ones; children who are invisible and children who feel invisible; magic and mystery and good old fashioned courage.
As well as a broad range of fiction exploring the human experience, there are also some excellent factual and practical books about feelings, mental health and wellbeing.
Mrs Campling's Recommendations
Feelings by Richard Jones & Libby Walden
This is a gorgeous picture book with a cut-out section showing a little boy standing in the middle of multiple visual representations of different emotions: anger, sadness, joy, to name a few. The illustrations really capture the sense of each feeling and each page has a few rhyming lines about what the feelings are like. We have this at home and it’s really good for helping smaller children understand their emotions - but great for bigger ones too!
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen is excellent anyway and this book, written after the death of his son, is incredibly poignant. It mainly explores his personal experience of grief yet is still universal and recognisable, whether someone is in the middle of grief themselves or not.
You are Awesome by Matthew Syed
This book focuses on self-esteem and confidence, and also has a journal version (The You Are Awesome Journal). Great for older kids and has lots of practical things in too!
DK also do a great selection of books (and flashcards!) on mindfulness, yoga and calm for kids.
Words for Life and BookTrust have a great bunch of resources and book lists on the topic too, check them out at:
This Month's Activity
Read or watch a video of My Many Coloured Day by Dr Seuss. The book associates different colours with different feelings. Can you do the same? What colour is it when you’re arguing with your sibling? What colour is it when you’re missing your friends?
Why not create a mood board or colour board for one day, or even one week? You could colour (or paint, or crochet) a square each day based on how you felt, and look back over a week to see if you were mostly sad, happy, content, lonely - any emotion you can think of!
Are there any other books where you have recognised your own feelings being shown? Tweet them to @OWPSLibrary
And remember - reading is a brilliant way to boost our mental health, whether that’s on your own, with a family member, in your head, out loud, watching a storyteller, or any other medium!