All of this talk of anxiety is making us anxious! How about you? Beth Cox and Natalie Costa have put together a list of books that adults can read with children, or in some cases children can read on their own, to help everyone involved manage their emotions. As the co-authors of the Level Headers series, activity books about confidence and self-esteem, they argue it’s important to start talking about feelings and emotions at a young age. Being open about feelings and learning useful techniques from experts are the best ways to cope with anxiety.
Terry Milne, Old Barn Books, 978-1-910646-38-0, £10.99 hbk
Charlie is a dog who likes structure and worries that something bad might happen if he doesn’t stick to his routine. But one day he misses out certain things as he goes to rescue his friend. And everything turns out okay. What is great about this story is that Charlie still continues with his usual routine after this, but occasionally tries something different. It’s useful to learn that things don’t always have to be exactly the same and you can try something new or different without having to change who you are completely.
The Lion Inside
written by Rachel Bright, illustrated by Jim Field, Orchard Books, 978-1-408331-60-6, £6.99 pbk
This is a beautifully illustrated story about a shy mouse who finally finds the courage to speak up. The mouse discovers that appearances can be deceiving – not only is the big lion not that brave after all, the lion is in fact scared of mice! The message is a really empowering way to build confidence and encourage empathy: you can do things that other people think you can’t, and other people can do things you think they can’t.
In My Heart: A Book of Feelings
written by Jo Witek, illustrated by Christine Roussey, Abrams Books, 978-1-419713-10-1, £11.99 hbk
A delightful book that explores all of the feelings that are in our hearts. There is a focus on how feelings feel in our body, which helps children connect with their emotions. The little girl in the story sometimes feels sad or angry but the feelings don’t last. This approach is great for opening up conversations about feelings and how to manage them.
Odd Dog Out
Rob Biddulph, HarperCollins Children’s Books, 978-1-000759-15-3, £6.99 pbk
A wonderful story about being yourself. Odd Dog Out feels like she doesn’t fit in, so she goes somewhere where everyone is like her. Then she spots another dog standing out from the crowd! This dog teaches her the importance of being yourself. When she returns home, Odd Dog Out discovers just how much her friends and neighbours have missed her. They love and value her for who she is. A fantastic book for teaching children the importance of being true to who you are.
HappySelf Ltd. £19.90
A cleverly designed, practical daily journal for children aged 6 to 12, based on proven methods that promote happiness, develop healthy habits for life and nurture enquiring minds. With just a few minutes’ focus each day, children really benefit from this encouragement to express gratitude, reflect on their emotions and think about their actions.
The Unworry Book
written by Alice James, illustrated by Stephen Moncrieff, Usborne Publishing, 978-1-474950-77-0, £8.99 hbk
For children 9 years and up, this book allows children to acknowledge their concerns and teaches them ways to deal with their worries. There are scientific explanations that help more enquiring children understand exactly what makes them feel certain ways.
Mindful Kids (cards)
written by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Mina Braun, Barefoot Books, 978-1-782853-27-5, £10.99 box
A wonderfully inclusive selection of mindful activities to suit every mood and need. There are 10 cards in each of these five key areas: starting the day, calm, focus, kindness and relaxation. The activities, some quick and some long, can be easily adapted for all children.
Stand Tall Like a Mountain
Suzy Reading, Aster, 978-1-912023-95-0, £12.99 pbk
Unique on this list as it’s a journey the parent/adult and child can take together as a family/team. Interspersed with activities and yoga poses, the focus includes micro moments of self-care that only take a few minutes. An excellent approach that supports parents/adults as they help children reduce their anxiety.
The Truth Pixie
written by Matt Haig, illustrated by Chris Mould, Canongate Books, 978-1-786894-32-8, £9.99 hbk
What starts as a comical story about a pixie who can only tell the truth, even when it’s often what people don’t want to hear, turns into a powerful message about life. When the Truth Pixie meets a girl who is worried about things, she has to be honest and tell her that some of these bad things will happen… but then she also goes on to tell her the truth about how her life will be full of good things too. We particularly like the message that what you make of your life is your choice: ‘you can live life as a mumble, or sing it clear’.
Find Your Power
written by Beth Cox in collaboration with Natalie Costa, illustrated by Vicky Barker, b small publishing, 978-1-911509-97-4. £7.99 pbk
Talking about feelings and worries in a positive framework with no shame or blame, this book is one of a series and it’s full of real-life techniques used by confidence coach Natalie Costa designed to help children find their inner power. This one is ours so we’re biased but we think it’s a great way to help children manage their emotions.
Beth Cox is an inclusion expert and children’s book author/editor. Natalie Costa is a qualified teacher and the founder of PowerThoughts, a teaching, coaching and mindfulness based service aimed at empowering children.