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Happiness Is...A Good Book: My Top 5 Positive Books for Young People's Wellbeing

With 17 year's experience working with young people (including 15 year's experience as a full-time teacher) I have seen my fair share of kids books. There's no doubt that reading to, or with, your child can have a significant impact on their wellbeing.

Whether the moral message is subtle or explicit, discussing the reasons characters do things and how they feel about what's happening can be an invaluable gateway to talking about how your child is feeling and why.

There are so many amazing books to choose from to teach about kindness, the value in sharing, perseverance, resilience and courage. Here's my list of the top 5 books I recommend for children and young people's wellbeing:

1 - The Huge Bag of Worries - by Virginia Ironside (Author), Frank Rodgers (Illustrator)

One little girl takes on more and more fear and worries after overhearing other people talking (parents, the news, her teachers and friends for example) and begins to catastrophise those thoughts until she is carrying around a huge bag of worries. Luckily there is someone who can help her shine a light on her fears.

This is a great book for children to understand about what happens when we keep fears and worries bottled up, and how much nicer it feels to share and talk about them. I also found it a great reminder to watch what we (adults) say around young people, as they pick up on everything and without context can misunderstand or misinterpret things, or take on worries that shouldn't be theirs.

Much loved by adults and children alike, Charlie Mackesy's book follows the adventures of four unlikely friends who share a deep unbreakable bond. Throughout their journey they share thoughts and wisdom about kindness, empathy, courage, friendship and cake, beautifully depicted with delicate illustrations.

3. The Dot - by Peter H Reynolds

Vashti thinks she can't draw and decides drawing is stupid. Her teacher believes she can and through gentle support and encouragement, Vashti starts to believe in herself and build her self-confidence.

One of my favourite stories and a great reminder in the power of looking at things from a different perspective and having someone believe in you. The Dot helps show that everyone has the power to unlock their creative spirit.

Such is its power, it even inspired 'International Dot Day' which is held each year around September 15th.

First released in the 1980's, this book was one of the ones that opened my eyes and heart to the power of narrative and instilled in me a love of reading that I cherish to this day. I have read this story a hundred times (and The Immortals quartet) and never tire of it.

It tells the story of Alanna, a young girl who wants to be a knight instead of going off to school to learn to be a lady. With the help of her twin, Thom, she disguises herself as a boy and begins her training at the palace.

I was a bit of a tom-boy growing up, and this wonderful story inspired me to continue to look beyond typical gender stereotypes and follow my heart. It is a story of courage, perseverance, determination and friendship and it just goes to show that with the right attitude you can achieve your dreams.

‘Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’
‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.' – Charlotte’s Webb, E.B White.

5. Charlotte's Web - by E. B. White

This classic children's story tells the heart-warming story of a friendship between a little girl named Fern, her beloved pig, Wilbur, and Charlotte, a beautiful grey spider. When Wilbur is declared to be 'ready to become bacon', all of Wilbur's friends work together to help save his life.

The themes of the story include the power of friendship, loyalty, unconditional love, and celebrating what makes everyone special. Wilbur isn't always the kindest or most selfless creature, so it has many opportunities to discuss alternative scenarios or ways of saying things. It also invites the opportunity to discuss death and bereavement in a non-threatening way and explore what it means for the people left behind.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about these books and why I chose them. I am always looking for new inspiration for my home library, so I'd love to know which books you recommend too.

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