Books for Keeps expert reviewer Elizabeth Schlenther introduces the new Healthy Books website.
What would you do if a child was having a problem that you felt might be helped through a book? Many public libraries have sections of children’s books for just this purpose, but possibly your best start would be to have a search on the Healthy Books website. Online since 2001, the site now has over 2,600 books in over 100 categories and sub-categories for children up to age 12. It can be searched in many different ways, and each book is reviewed as well as given full bibliographic information. The age level given is the lowest I feel usable for therapeutic use: not necessarily a reading age, as many of these books should be used with a loving parent, teacher, counsellor, or good friend. The subjects are numerous – behavioural, emotional and/or having to do with specific health and disability problems. Picture books, novels, poetry and information books are included, and some of the subjects are fairly recently added, such as serious anxiety, mindfulness, lgbt, achondroplasia (dwarfism), homelessness/refugees/immigration, children as carers, same-sex parents, and OCD. Others are more familiar: for example, death, divorce, fears, child abuse, starting school or playgroup, bullying, adoption and fostering, a new baby in the family, toilet training, and visits to the doctor, dentist, hospital, etc. The largest section with the most sub-categories is Health Problems and Disabilities, where you will find more common illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, hearing and sight, and less common ones such as arthritis, cancer, muteness, brain injury, and facial disfigurement.
We are on Twitter at @HealthyBooksUK. All the new books added to Healthy Books will also appear on the Twitter account, where a push of a button will get you into the main site. There you can read all the information about that particular book, and explore other books in that section or throughout the database. You can also email me by using the ‘Contact Us’ button at the top of each page if you have a query or want to recommend a book not yet on Healthy Books. Healthy Books includes links to Amazon and WorldCat, which means there will in most cases be a picture of the cover, and where, with another click, you can order the book. Or, of course, check at your local library or book shop.
As a retired hospital librarian and school librarian, children’s books have been of vital interest to me for many years; and, as we all know, books can and should be of huge importance to all children. If books can be of help with problems, this can only be a good thing for both the children and those who care for them.
Elizabeth Schlenther MCLIP
Compiler of www.healthybooks.uk