BOOKS THAT HELP – SCHOOL/ NURSERY

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BOOKS THAT HELP – GRIEF/ LOSS

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BOOKS THAT HELP – BODIES

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BOOKS THAT HELP – NEURODIVERSITY

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MILO AND MONTY (Roxanan de Rond)

Milo and Monty are two puppies that do everything together. But Monty loves being with people and Milo is nervous. In Milo and Monty (Child’s Play, 2019) life gets busy and Milo goes to find his quiet spot. But someone is already there. Someone like him! Milo meets someone with a special toy, who likes quiet time and doing the same activities at the same time each day.

The dogs’ owners learn that Milo loves being with them just as much as Monty, he just shows it in his own way, making this a good book for young children with neurodiverse friends and family. Indeed, this story could be used to encourage discussion and awareness about autism, anxiety, empathy and friendship.


BEA BY THE SEA (Jo Byatt)

Bea By The Sea (Child’s Play, 2021) is a subtle look at a neurodiverse main character who loves lions! Bea thinks about lions all the time and doesn’t doing anything unless lions are involved. She definitely doesn’t like the sand, which is scratchy and gritty between her toes.

But when Bea meets Sand Lion, he helps her enjoy the sand even though it feels funny. In return, Bea helps Sand Lion when he is unsure about the water.

This story could help a child with sensory processing problems a try new experiences. The lion facts on the endpapers are a very nice touch.


CHOICES (Roozeloos)

Overthinkers will resonate with this book, Choices (Child’s Play, 2021). It’s a visual look and the many different choices we face every day. Big ones, small ones and some in between ones… from choosing an ice cream to deciding whether or not to face our fears.

The sparse text and detailed illustrations are a lovely combination. The ‘space’ leaves a gap for readers to peruse Roozeboos’ use of colour and movement and invites reflection. When faced with difficult choices, this story suggests readers should follow their heart, gently encouraging them to try new things.


UP AND DOWN MUM (Summer Macon)

Up And Down Mum (Child’s Play, 2019) depicts the ups and downs of having a parent with bipolar disorder. The child and mother do lots of things together. Most day are fine but some days Mum seems different and even scary. The bipolar disorder is explained in an accessible way for young children. “Everyone has days they feel happier than others, but for your mum it’s more extreme.” Grandad describes it as though Mum is riding a roller coaster and the child gives mum the nick name, Up and Down Mum. “When she is happy it feels like she is on the top of the world, and she can do anything. When she is sad nothing can make her feel better.”

The child learns it isn’t down to them to help Mum when she is having a hard time. The family have help from other relatives and trained professionals including a social worker, and a trained therapist.

This book could benefit children growing up in the care of parent who has bipolar disorder, who sometimes spends time away to get specialised help. Whilst such a life can be filled with uncertainty and anxiety, the child in the story loves their mum despite her difficulties and ups and downs.


WHERE BJORN BELONGS (Sam Langley-Swain, Mirna Imamovic)

Where Bjorn Belongs  (Owlet Press, 2022) is written by Owlet publisher, Sam Langley-Swain, and illustrated by Mirna Imamovic. Arthur wants to be an arctic explorer and carries his toy polar bear with him everywhere he goes. It’s approaching Christmas time, and Arthur is finding the lights, the noise, the bustle, all a bit too much but he finds comfort in his toy bear. Then, disaster – the bear is lost. Arthur asks Father Christmas for a new one and wakes up to find a real polar bear in his garden!

This is an inclusive and sensitive story of friendship and belonging, centred around the unbreakable bond between a boy and a bear, with a generous sprinkling of Christmas magic. The perfect story for those who may struggle with big celebrations and festivities.


LEO AND THE OCTOPUS (Isabelle Marinov, Chris Nixon)

The world was too bright for Leo. And too loud.
“I must be living on the wrong planet,” Leo thought.

In Leo and the Octopus (Templar, 2021) Leo struggles to make sense of the world. He doesn’t understand the other children in his class, and they don’t seem to understand him. Sometimes it feels like he is living on an alien planet. But then one day, Leo meets Maya. Maya is an octopus, and the more Leo learns about her, the more he thinks that perhaps he isn’t alone in this world, after all.

Isabelle’s text navigates the world and friendship through the eyes of a child with Asperger’s and Chris’ illustrations are bright and eye-catching, especially the neon detailing on the cover. Together they depict a subtle yet accurate look at how it feels to have autism, helpful for neurodiverse and neurotypical readers.

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BOOKS THAT HELP – WAR / DISPLACEMENT

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MY NAME IS NOT REFUGEE (Kate Milner)

A touching, timely and tender exploration of refuge and migration for the youngest readers, this picture book offers a moving insight into the real journeys being made by children today. Winner of the Klaus Flugge Prize 2018.

Told from the point of view of a child and their parent who have to leave their home, My Name is Not Refugee (Barrington Stoke, 2017) foretells to a child what life will be like as a refugee. The situations, such as waiting, walking, queuing and eating strange foods are poignant and emotive. The parent, who narrates the book, suggests it’ll be hard but interesting too. Ultimately, the parent reassures the child that whilst they’ll be called ‘refugee’ that isn’t their name.

The story would benefit children who have been forced to flee their homes, but also all readers to develop empathy towards displaced families. Little questions posed in the illustrations help readers relate to the characters and their situation: What would you take? How far could you walk? Can you speak more than one language?


LUBNA AND PEBBLE (Wendy Meddour and Daniel Egneus)

‘Lubna and Pebble’ (Oxford University Press, 2019) is a beautiful and powerful story about two children and a pebble that have fled their home, who find friendship ‘in a world of tents.’

Lubna finds the pebble on the beach when they arrive in the night, and she falls asleep in Daddy’s salty arms. Pebble always listens to her stories and smiles when Lubna feels afraid. But when a lost little boy arrives, Lubna understands that he needs Pebble even more than she does.

This is a beautifully illustrated story, evoking all the emotions of this unknown and uncertain world. The writing is full of gentle but powerful emotive language. Overall, it’s a very moving story of kindness, hope and friendship despite challenging times.


BEEGU (Alexis Deacon)

Beegu (Red Fox, 2004) is the story of a little space alien who has landed on Earth and has lost her family. She tries to make friends with the strange people she meets with limited success. No one understands her. No one wants her.

When Beegu is finally rescued by her mother, she tells her all about her difficult time she’s had and about the children that showed her kindness.

The illustrations perfectly capture the feelings of being lost and alone, inspiring empathy and promoting discussion about how it might feel to be an outsider.


ALIS JOURNEY – A JOURNEY FROM AFGHANISTAN (Andy Glynne, Salvador Maldonado)

Ali’s Journey (Wayland, 2014) is a picture book for older children about ten-year-old Ali and his journey from Afghanistan. Ali recalls tents and fighting and bombs and the sadness he felt. He remembers his Grandma deciding they must move to Europe.

Ali is separated from his family and goes to school where he learns knew things. At first he is embarrassed and frustrated but slowly he finds new friends and they are amazed by his drawings. He shares pictures of his family and his favourite things. 

This story is hard hitting, not shying away from the pain and hardship of being a refugee without the love and support of your family around you. It’s a story to encourage empathy and connection. The story ends with a glimmer of hope for Ali. Four years after his move to Europe, he gets to talk to his parents on the phone. The reader sees Ali wishing that one day his family will be able to join him. 


THE LAST GARDEN (Rachel Ip and Anneli Bray)

The Last Garden (Hodder, 2021) is a thoughtful, tender story that reminds us never to give up hope. It follows the main protagonist, Zara, who has the most beautiful garden that the whole community enjoys. But one day everyone has to leave the city. The garden is locked with a key while the people flee their homes. The book was inspired by true events in Syria and war gardens around the world and throughout history. It’s very sad to think of cities and homes being destroyed, but this story gives hope that one day peace and colour may be restored to war torn places, just like it was in Zara’s garden.

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BOOKS THAT HELP – SEPARATION/ DIVORCE

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BOOKS THAT HELP – UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS

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BOOKS THAT HELP – ANGER AND ‘BAD’ MOODS

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SWEEP (Louise Grieg, Júlia Sardà)

Sweep (Egmont 2018) is a wonderful story about what can happen if you let a bad mood get the better of you. Ed and his bad mood sweep, sweep, sweep through the town until his emotions grow and gather so much pace the town is dark and Ed is tired and hungry.

In this poetic, uplifting story, Louise Greig and Júlia Sardà use a suitable visual metaphor to show readers what can happen when you try to sweep your troubles away.  Perfect for helping children learn to recognise and deal with big emotions.

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BOOKS THAT HELP – ANXIETY, FEARS, WORRIES

If you don’t find what you are looking for, please get in contact and I will try my best to help. If you do find a book that helps, please spread the word about this website!

If you are the publisher, author or illustrator of a book that helps and you’d like to be featured on this website, please email: clare_welsh@hotmail.co.uk

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