Books dealing with sensitive and tough issues are always needed in primary schools and homes. With an aim that every child can see themselves in a book, these books certainly help. They also provide hope, positivity and strength to those who need it most.
A Boy his Bear and a Bully
by Katie Flannigan and P.J. Reece, Published by EK Books
Scott happily heads to school with brave bear Buttons until Duncan the bully finds him. Cowering and wishing he were braver, Scott puts up with the comments, destruction and meanness over the course of the week. When dress up day arrives, Scott dresses as a dinosaur hoping it would make him feel more courageous. When his treat gets stolen and with Buttons still missing, Scott finds his voice and shouts back at the bully. We know that challenging a bully takes a lot of courage and when reading this, you can’t help but cheer for Scott! The illustrations are wonderful and Scott’s anger is brilliantly brought to life. A great book for Anti-Bullying Week or anytime throughout the year. We’ll Be Together Again by Lucy Menzies
and Maddy Vian, Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
For two years, we have had similar conversations as Bella and her Grandpa Jack, saying things like, “Can’t wait to hug you and see you soon”. When restrictions eased and we could see family and friends, the appreciation of those times was and is still evident. Bella and her Grandpa tell their stories in this cleverly designed book with 3 ways to read it. You can read each story separately or together. They miss each other and video calls are just not the same but “We’ll be together soon.” , is always their parting comment. Brilliant illustrations show the distance and differences in Bella and Jack’s lives. An apt and relatable book for what our families have been through. We have yet to see my family in Canada and I know we will have as joyous a reunion as Bella and Grandpa Jack. Storm in a Jar by Samuel Langley- Swain and Katie Cottle, Published by Owlet Press
It took me a long time to be able to read this as I lost my beautiful grandmother in March. Having empathy can sometimes bring strong emotional responses and connections to a book and this is just the right one for me now. I still cry with the image of Arlo’s Nana sailing away. A powerful book about grief, loss and learning to understand the vast range of emotions that will follow. As adults, we know the stages of grief but this book is a great way to walk through those with children, with the additional science experiment and sensory jar activities to help us grieve. Incredible illustrations bring the emotional journey to life through colour and imagery. You Can by Alexandra Strick and Steve Antony, Published by Otter-Barry Books
I am not sure there is a more inclusive or important book for children to read. Full of affirmations and positive perspectives, this should be a guide for us all. This is an ideal book to share in a whole school assembly to promote kindness, perseverance and strength in individuality. Not written just by Alexandra Strick but in conjunction with a group of young people who were encouraged to share views, inspire and encourage others. This book is an ode to their responses and certainly resonates with readers. Completely empowering and full of amazing illustrations featuring children who are truly diverse. I think this should be in every classroom, read, shared and discussed. Super Joe does
not do Cuddles by Michael Catchpool and Emma Proctor, Published by Lantana
This story is adorable and full of playful scenes and dangerous adventures for Superhero Joe. He must battle his nemesis, Grey Shadow. Obviously, superheroes do not do cuddles but they must wear a scarf, belt and vest. Mum may not be getting cuddles but she shows Joe her love in other ways by ensuring he is ready to face his next adventure. After these eventful rescues, Joe cannot sleep and there is only one thing that will help! It must be kept a secret though. Charming illustrations bring Joe’s imaginative adventures to life for the reader and will likely inspire a few new superheroes along the way. Inner by Cleteisha Ann Washington and Aleksandra Szmidt, Published by Little Steps Publishing
Inner is a delightful journey of discovery for the young girl who is seeking love, power, friendship…and the answer to these quests is to “Go Inner”. If she wants to find joy, peace and kindness, she must first find it within herself. As the girl searches, she meets animals who help her to learn about herself. Evocative in the use of colour, animal and simplicity of text, this would be wonderful to read aloud in class, or assembly. All children can find the secrets to life within their own heart and by raising our children to be kind, peaceful and strong, we are building a world with empathetic people, a world where kindness and love are shared widely. Violet’s Tempest by Ian Eagleton and Clara Anganuzzi, Published by Lantana
Violet’s class are performing Shakespeare’s The Tempest but Violet is struggling with her own internal tempest, doubting herself and her abilities. Her lack of confidence can be powerfully seen in the illustrations of her snuggling into her Nan, so small in comparison. I think it also shows how much love Violet feels for her Nan. Over time, and with plenty of encouragement, love and patience, Violet’s inner confidence and positive affirmations allow her to project her voice and Ariel’s role perfectly. A perfect story for those who need a boost of confidence and need to hear the words, “Sometimes, you have to take a deep breath and go for it.” The Visible Sounds
by Yin Jianling and Yu Rong, Translated by Filip Selucky, Published by UCLan Publishing
Poetically written and beautifully illustrated, this hopeful story shares the truth about a young girl who loses her hearing. At first frustrated and upset, she soon learns that sound can be seen, touched and felt in her heart. From drum beats to engines rumbling, she can “hear” sounds in a new way. A way that allows her the chance to follow her dreams. “To dance without music is to dance with one’s heart”. Not held back by her hearing loss but given the freedom to explore her dreams in new ways. The illustrations are wonderfully colourful bringing sounds to life for the reader. An inspirational story based on the true story of dancer, Lihua Tai. She didn’t give up on her dreams and has graced the world’s stage.