Shelley John

Children’s Mental Health Week: Our Favourite Books About Understanding Emotions

February 4-11 2019 is Children’s Mental Health Week so we thought we’d take the opportunity to share our favourite books which focus on understanding and managing emotions.

We recommend:

The Colour MonsterThe Colour Monster by Anna Llenas

A clever book which equates emotions to colours and explains how you shouldn’t bottle them up.
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Feelings by Libby Walden & Richard Jones

The gentle rhyme explores all of the emotions which your child may be experiencing and helps you to name them and understand how they feel inside.
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Aalfred And Aalbert by Morag Hood

Aalfred And AalbertYou may remember that last year we got very excited about a book called The Steves which featured two puffins arguing over the fact they share a name. Ivy loved it (and still does!) so I was over the moon to spot that the Author, Morag Hood, has just released something new.

Aalfred and Aalbert are two aardvarks who are absolutely perfect for each other but, despite being neighbours, they have never actually met. This is because Aalbert sleeps at night and Aalfred sleeps all day. Both long for companionship but don’t realise that what they are looking for is right under their nose.

Unbeknown to them, a tiny blue bird has been observing their coming and goings and decides to play matchmaker. He hatches a number of elaborate plans involving alarm clocks, broccoli and balls of red string but nothing seems to work.

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Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy & Joe Berger

Hubble Bubble Granny TroubleSince discovering the joy that is Tracey Corderoy, Ivy and I have been on a mission to read all of her books. We have devoured all of the Shifty McGifty picture books and now we are loving this Hubble Bubble series about a very unusual grandparent.

The little girl in the story wants to tel us all about her Granny, who happens to be a little bit different. She dresses all in black, has a pointy hat, keeps frogs and bats as pets and the food she serves is extremely unconventional! She loves her granny but sometimes she wishes she could be a little bit more like the kind of grannies her friends have.

She suggests to her Granny that it might be fun to have a makeover day together and she sets about making little changes which she thinks will make her more ‘normal’. They knit some hats together, travel in to town by bus (rather than broomstick!), buy some new clothes and get their hair done. By the time they are finished, her Granny looks just like all the other grannies in the street.

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Feelings by Libby Walden & Richard Jones

FeelingsYou’ve probably noticed that we’re partial to books which encourage emotional development and this is the most recent addition to that particular shelf in our house.

The gentle rhyme explores all of the emotions which your child may be experiencing and helps you to name them and understand how they feel inside. Anger is described as a fiery pit of bubbling magma, embarrassment is a burning red face under a bright spotlight, calm is a gently rocking boat on a smooth ocean and sadness is a river bursting its banks and covering everything in sight.

The book covers a wide range of feelings including courage, sadness, anger, happiness, jealousy, loneliness, embarrassment, excitement, fear and calmness.

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Natasha Kaplinsky, Co-Founder, Mum & You

Natasha KaplinskyTell us a little bit about yourself and your family

My name is Natasha Kaplinsky. For many years I have anchored news for the BBC, Sky and ITV. I am also a very active Ambassador for Save the Children. Through my travels with Save the Children I was inspired to work more with mothers and babies and so two years ago I co-founded a company called Mum & You.   We live on a farm in Sussex with our two children and our 47 pets!

What are your children’s favourite books?

Our kids love reading so it’s hard to name a particular author or a book. Now that they are 8 and 10, when they get into a particular author, I bulk buy all the books in that series – just to keep them reading. I have always said to the kids that they can beg all they like for random bits and pieces, but I will never say no if they ask for a new book.

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Buddy’s Pancakes by Judy Skidmore, Sheju Adiyatiparambil-John & Vanessa Arduini

Buddy's PancakesWe have recently discovered Parakeet Books – a small independent publisher whose focus is on stories which are truly inclusive – and we LOVE their ethos. Our favourite title so far is Buddy’s Pancakes, a story which will be very familiar to parents of fussy toddlers (us included!).

Buddy is a little boy who is far more interested in playing than eating. At breakfast time his dad asks him if he would like some pancakes and the answer is a resounding no.

As Buddy plays, his dad serves up food to the rest of the family and we see how everyone likes their pancakes a different way. Granny likes lemon and honey, Grandad likes blueberries, whilst Mummy prefers to have hers with slices of banana. Each time a new variation is suggested, they ask Buddy if he would like some but he always replies that he’s not hungry.

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Snuggle Down Deep by Diane Ohanesian & Emily Bornoff

Snuggle Down DeepAs snow begins to fall around the UK, this beautiful book about hibernation is the perfect choice for bedtime.

The story shows you ten familiar animals as they all snuggle up for the winter with their families. Bears cuddle up in caves, squirrels curl up in their nests, mice tuck themselves in to the little tunnels they have dug underground and turtles dive down deep to the sticky mud at the bottom of the pond.

The choice of language is really soothing and the gentle rhyme is repetitive so I love reading this to Ivy on nights when a little extra calm is required before putting her to bed. 

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Ruth Stevenson, Research Consultant, Ruthless Research

Ruthless ResearchTell us a little bit about yourself and your family

Hello I’m Ruth, and I live in Edinburgh with my husband and my four year old son Arran.  I’ve been self employed now for eight years providing research services for charities, and these days I run my business flexibly around Arran’s pre-school needs. Edinburgh is an arts and cultural hub and we do our best to take advantage of the various festivals and events that run here throughout the year.

What is your son’s favourite book?

There’s a lovely series of books based on TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats with illustrations by Arthur Robins, and we have the five that have come out so far.  We have read them all many times and our favourites are Skimbleshanks (the railway cat) and Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer (the cat burglars).  We enjoy the interesting rhymes and beautiful pictures, and also the opportunity to listen to the songs in the car based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.  I can’t wait to take Arran to see Cats at the theatre some day!

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Katie And The Sunflowers by James Mayhew

Katie And The SunflowersThis book is aimed at slightly older toddlers, but if you like art and have a child who will happily sit still for a 10 minute story then I would definitely recommend it!

The clever tale is about a little girl called Katie who visits an art gallery with her grandma. Katie finds herself standing in front of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ and is amazed at how real the flowers look. She reaches forward to touch them and her hand magically goes right in to the painting! She is so shocked that she knocks the vase and the sunflowers fall right off the canvas and on to the floor of the gallery. What on earth should she do now?

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I Know A Lot! by Stephen Krensky & Sara Gillingham

I Know A Lot!This gorgeous board book is part of a series designed to empower small children. This one focuses on the fact that, as a toddler, you are learning new things all the time and if you stop and think about all the things you know, you realise it’s a lot!

The gentle rhyme highlights lots of facts that your child will revel in knowing – like the fact that wet glue will dry, ovens are hot, balls can bounce, kites fly etc.

It’s a short read at just 12 pages but this just serves to reinforce the empowerment theme. Ivy now mostly knows it by heart so she can not only tell me the facts but also recite most of the text which makes her doubly proud of herself!

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