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Books to support Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week is 13th-19th May and this year’s theme is body image. An important opportunity to open up discussion with children about how they feel about their bodies and how this affects their mental health.

Below are some recommendations for books that support mental health and can help open up discussion with children.

The Colour of Happy by Laura Baker

This beautifully illustrated picture book follows a little boy as he navigates a range of emotions – from happiness and excitement to hope and love, all on his way to present a gift to his mum.

The perfect way to talk about important feelings with young children.

Find out more about The Colour of Happy here.

Happy to Be Me by Emma Dodd

This simple, heartfelt story offers children a way of talking easily, and with gratitude, about their bodies and the wonderful things they can do. This is the perfect way to build body confidence and self-esteem in even the youngest children, and rhyming text makes it great for reading aloud.

Find out more about Happy To Be Me here.

The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright and Jim Field

This bestselling story about a shy little mouse who sets off on a journey to find his roar, shows that even the biggest, bossiest people are scared sometimes … and even the smallest creatures can have the heart of a lion! A good book for talking about self-esteem and confidence with young readers.

Find out more about The Lion Inside here.

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Gerald the Giraffe longs to go to the great Jungle Dance, but how can he join in when he doesn’t know how to tango or two-step? Everyone knows that giraffes can’t dance … or can they?

This funny, touching and triumphant story about being yourself and finding your own tune is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year!

Find out more about Giraffes Can’t Dance here.

The Girl with the Lost Smile

Chloe Long has lost her smile. She’s looked everywhere for it. She’s tried everything to bring it back. But nothing seems to be working! Until one night, something utterly magical happens – and Chloe finds herself on an adventure that is out of this world … The first children’s book from Miranda Hart, this action-packed, magical story celebrates the power of the imagination and true friendship.

A great class read for Upper KS2.

Find out more about The Girl with the Lost Smile here. Download teaching notes here.

Dear Katie by Katie Thistleton

TV presenter and mental health advocate Katie Thistleton answers questions from real kids and teens with real issues, covering a range of topics including mental and physical health with thoughtful and emotionally sensitive advice. With additional guidance from TV and radio Dr Radha Modgil, this book is full of advice and guidance to help kids through the difficult years of growing up. For ages 10-16.

Find out more about Dear Katie here.

You Got This by Bryony Gordon

Author, journalist and mental health campaigner Bryony Gordon’s first book for teens is full of frank, fearless advice on how to grow up happy.

Covering topics including self-esteem, mental health and body confidence, this is an essential read for teens aged 12 and upwards,

Find out more about You Got This here. Download teaching notes and display material here.

Body Brilliant by Nicola Morgan

From teenage expert Nicola Morgan, this book addresses the body issues that nearly everyone worries about at some point in their lives and gives practical and mindful solutions to work through worries, using real-life examples, quotes and anecdotes from young adults interviewed especially for this book.

Find out more about Body Brilliant here.

It’s All in Your Head by Rae Earl

This witty, honest and enlightening guide to the whirrings of your brain is the perfect read for any young person who’s ever felt overwhelmed, at a loss or in a downward spiral. From the author of My Mad Fat Diary, it’s full of friendly advice, coping strategies and laugh-out-loud moments to get you through the difficult days. From anxiety to eating disorders and depression, Rae’s approach helps to normalise, not stigmatise these issues. For ages 14+

Find out more about It’s All in Your Head here.

The Boxer by Nikesh Shuckla

Told over the course of the ten rounds of his first fight, this is the story of amateur boxer Sunny, who joins a boxing club to learn to protect himself after a racist attack. There he finds the community he’s been desperately seeking, and a mentor in trainer Shobu.

A gripping, life-affirming YA novel about friendship, radicalisation and finding where you belong.

Find out more about The Boxer here.

Colour Me In by Lydia Ruffles

Nineteen-year-old actor Arlo likes nothing more than howling across the skyline with best friend Luke. But when something irreparable happens and familiar black weeds start to crawl inside him, Arlo flees to the other side of the world, taking only a sketchbook full of maps. There, he meets fellow traveller Mizuki and they decide to get lost together. But how far can you run before you lose yourself completely?

This is a beautifully written and touching portrayal of male mental health, for fans of The Catcher in the Rye and Turtles All the Way Down.

Find out more about Colour Me In here.

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