Reading & Wellbeing

At the end of September, the National Literacy Trust published a report on the links between reading and mental well-being (Mental Wellbeing, Reading and Writing). We were inspired, so below are a few recommendations of recent titles which particularly connect with mental health:


  • Stardust by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Briony May Smith

A beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of a little girl gaining in self-esteem while at the same time giving the reader the briefest information about the creation of the universe! Totally lovely. For F/KS1.

(Nosy Crow, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781788000697, find it at a Norfolk Library)

  • Tom’s Magnificent Machines by Linda Sarah, illustrated by Ben Mantle

This bright and cheery picture book stars Tom who rescues his dad from sadness when he loses his job. While appealing to young children who love machines and inventions, they can also absorb its deeper emotional heft. For F/KS1.

(Simon & Schuster, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781471122460, find it at a Norfolk Library)

  • Jelly by Jo Cotterill

Jelly is a big girl – even her nickname Jelly reflects this, and to deflect bullying and teasing she has built a strong wall around herself by becoming the class expert at joking and mimicry, as well as shining at sport. It quickly emerges that her mum has created her own defensive walls too, until a young man enters their lives who shows them that it’s OK to be yourself. Jelly gains sufficient confidence to expose her true self – and you’ll need a box of tissues handy, but in a happy way! For KS2/3.

(Piccadilly Press, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 978184812732, find it at a Norfolk Library)

  • Boy Underwater by Adam Baron

It’s hard at the beginning of this story not to blame the parent: not only has our hero been saddled with a very unusual name (Cymbeline Igloo since you ask), but has also never in all his nine years been swimming. However this is about to change, and leads to a funny but at the same time poignant and heart-warming read. It deals with an adult’s mental health problems and how they impact on a child, and while we grown-ups may have a little cry, young readers will cope more robustly along with Cymbeline. For KS2.

(HarperCollins, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780008267018, find it at a Norfolk Library)

+ a new Non-fiction title:

  • My Mixed Emotions; learn to love your feelings By Elinor Greenwood

A beautifully produced practical guide on how natural it is to experience all sorts of emotions. With colourful simple graphics and a few photos it attempts to take away any fears and anxieties children may feel about themselves. I have one small quibble: there’s no difference explained of the difference between envy and jealousy, the latter being much more invidious. But overall this is a lovely book which does not feel at all condescending or patronising. For KS1/2.

(Dorling Kindersley, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9780241323762, find it at a Norfolk Library)

You can find an archive of our past Friday Read recommendations just here.


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