Wellbeing and Reading Tip

Dear Parents,

We decided that for this week’s wellbeing and reading tip, we would join forces and recommend some books that will not only develop a child’s reading ability but also their skills of articulating and exploring feelings and emotions. Many of the books recommended below feature within our Jigsaw PSHE programme. Sharing stories with sensitive themes can be incredibly comforting for children, particularly if the child is experiencing these feelings themselves, as it allows them to see that other children experience these things too and that they’re not the only one. It is also fantastic to use these kinds of books to develop empathy and emotional resilience through asking questions such as, what would you do if you were feeling this way?

Developing Emotional Literacy

Developing emotional literacy in your child can have a huge impact not just on their mental health but in their ability to be moved by a reading book and ability to understand and empathise with characters in a book.  Often the most challenging questions your child will be asked about a text will require them to use their inference skills (the ability to make non-explicit links between clues in the text) to understand how a character is feeling.

Among the multitude of amazing fiction books out there for children, below are our picks of fiction books which will help your child develop their emotional literacy skills.   

Picture books:

Julia Donaldson ‘The Smartest Giant In Town’

‘Eduardo: The Horriblest Boy In The Whole Wide World’ by John Burningham

‘Leon and Bob’ by Simon James

Silly Billy Anthony Browne

The Bear Who Stared Duncan Beedie

The Koala Who Could Rachel Bright

Bob’s Blue Period Marion Deuchars

The Huge Bag of Worries Virginia Ironside and Frank Rodgers

My Daddy’s Going Away Christopher MacGregor and Emma Yarlett

Sad Book Michael Rosen

My Many Coloured Days Dr Seuss

It’s Okay To Be Different Todd Parr

Hugless Douglas David Melling

Chapter books

“Wonder” by RJ Palacio; recently made into a film starring Julia Roberts, this story is written in an accessible, diary entry style and portrays different view points of the characters surrounding the journey of Auggie, a new recruit to Beecher Prep School, who lives with a facial disfigurement, and tracks his emotional journey through his first year at school.  A beautiful read.

“There’s a Boy In The Girl’s Bathroom” by Louis Sachar; tracing the life of Bradley Chalker, the boy in class who is always getting into trouble, and his new friendship with his school councillor Carla.  Heartwarming story about how children can get  and reminding stuck with unfair lables, and reminds us not to judge every book by its cover, so to speak.

“Rose Blanche” by Ian McEwan and “The Lion and the Unicorn” by Shirley Hughes – both wonderful picture books which explore World War 2 through the eyes of children.

“The 1000 Year Old Boy” by Ross Welford – about a boy frozen in time, who is 1000 years old, having to face life in the 21st Century.  Welford is an excellent author for exploring the challenges facing young people; “What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible” is similarly brilliant.

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” by Mark Haddon – Whitbread Book Of The Year when it was first published, about a boy living with Asperger’s Syndrome, who sets out to solve a crime.  Siobhan O’Dowd’s ‘The London Eye Mystery’ follows a similar plot and is equally as engaging.

“Boy Under Water” by Adam Baron is a moving, funny story about friends, families and secrets.  Recommended by the author Ross Welford.

“The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind” by William Kamkwanba – a moving story about William, forced to give up his education to work on the family farm when his family could no longer afford his school fees, the book takes us on his journey to make a difference against the odds.

“The Boy At The Back Of The Class” by Onjali Rauf – a highly recommended book about the importance of kindness, this is a great read for children.

“Hope In A Ballet Shoe” by Michaela and Elaine De Prince, telling the true story of Michaela DePrince, who grew up in war-torn Sierra Leone, witnessing tragedy all around her, and how she pieced her life back together in the United States through finding ballet. 

Once your child has read a book, it is worth spending time discussing the themes of the book with your children.  Some question prompts might include:

  • how do you think the main character was feeling at this point?
  • how do you think their emotions changed as the story developed?
  • can you think of a time when you have felt the same as the character?
  • what would you have done to help the character? 

A great game to play to allow your child to develop their emotive language and vocabulary is to draw an emotion graph of a character’s journey through a book.  There is lots of information online for creating emotion graphs.

It is also worth exploring the vocabulary your child has to express feelings and emotions of characters in books by using a thesaurus to build language spectrums.  To do this, give them a selection of words which mean the same or similar to an emotion word, for example, sad: unhappy, sorry, sorrowful, downcast, gloomy, glum, pensive, heavy-hearted, dejected, depressed, desolate, troubled, melancholy.  Discuss each of the words and, together, put these words on a spectrum from ‘the most sad’ to ‘the least sad’.   This will not only help them understand books they read but will help develop both their oral and written vocabulary to best express their own emotions and the emotions of characters they write about.

For more information:

https://www.parentkind.org.uk/blog/8719/Helping-children-develop-emotional-literacy

https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2017/nov/03/emotional-intelligence-why-it-matters-and-how-to-teach-it

Thank you to Mrs Bull and Mrs Andrews for recommending some of their favourite books.

Miss Barnes, Mrs Puddephatt