Tag archives: reading for mental health

Thursday, 4 February 2021

The value of books and reading for children’s mental health

children's mental health weekIt’s Children’s Mental Health Week. Sadly the impact of Covid has made the week more vital than ever before. It feels appropriate to explore the benefits books and reading can offer.

There is a proven correlation between reading, mental health and wellbeing. Here are some key research findings:

Books and reading can help children feel good about themselves. The finding that they can reduce stress is so pertinent right now. These views come from children of 7, 9, 12, and 15 years of age:

I love reading books. They cheer me up.

I read sometimes to get out of the real world or if I am unhappy.

I like reading books a lot. I can get away from reality for a while and enjoy myself.

Reading takes you away from real life for a bit. I just love it.

A survey carried out in the first lockdown found that audiobooks also support children’s wellbeing.

Books help children realise that they are not alone. These words from Frank Cottrell Boyce very much resonate with me:

A book is not a learning resource. It’s the knife that picks the lock of your isolation.

I concur with this too, from Emily Drabble of Booktrust:

Story characters can be models for your child, which can help foster coping skills and build confidence.

Children’s author Tom Perceval says this:

It’s important for children, and their parents, to be offered books that might help them navigate their emotional journeys.

I agree. Books are powerhouses of emotional support. They build resilience too.

I mentioned research about reading and empathy. Empathy impacts on well-being, and reading is a great way to strengthen it. Here is Malorie Blackman:

Books allow you to see the world through the eyes of others. Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.

This reflection comes from a child in year 5:

When I feel empathy in stories, I slow down; sometimes I stop and think so much more.

Books and reading develop children’s (and adults’) understanding of themselves, of others and of the world. Children’s author and ex-headteacher Bernard Ashley makes this point:

Books can answer questions we do not know we’re asking.

Books can challenge attitudes and change views. Author SF Said says this:

Children’s books can be bridges connecting people, showing them that however different someone else might be, the things which unite us are greater than those which divide us. And that difference can be a source of richness: something to be celebrated, not feared.

My final quote is from a child in key stage 2, in a review of Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy:

This book has inspired me to follow my dreams.

There is no doubt that books and reading aid children’s mental health. I will blog soon on the sorts of books that can make a difference to their wellbeing, and effective ways to use them. Meantime, I recommend these links, the last three particularly for school librarians:

Monday, 28 January 2019

Reading for mindfulness and wellbeing – a new course and useful links

SloughI loved seeing this girl immersed in her library book, oblivious to all that was going on around her, stress-free. There is growing evidence that books and reading can play a valuable role in supporting children’s wellbeing. I was delighted to give a course about this recently. We explored the links between reading and mental health and identified ways to use books to build children’s self-esteem, self-awareness, mindfulness, resilience, empathy and understanding. The discussions were inspiring. (Details of this new area of training are now on my website.)

I thought it might be useful to share links to organisations, reports, articles and a video that I have found particularly illuminating and helpful, some of them about children’s mental health, others specifically about books and reading.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Children’s and teenagers’ reading: recent news and views

monkey readingI love this picture from a museum in Orvieto in Italy. A great illustration for my latest round-up of reading news and articles.

Finland has just been named as the world’s most literate nation, while the UK is ranked 17th.

The National Literacy Trust has published a new survey about early literacy practices at home.

A poll for International Children’s Book Day revealed that half of parents think reading a book is the best way to develop empathy.

The Reading Agency has launched a scheme to support young people’s mental health through books in public libraries.

Teen author Alex Whale considers whether reading children’s books can help tackle knife crime.

Author Natasha Carthew has written an important piece on the lack of working class culture in children’s books.

Ross Montgomery explores the difficulty and importance of writing diverse children’s books.

School librarian Barbara Band’s blog Reading schemes or reading for pleasure? is well worth a look.

There are good ideas here for promoting reading through the school library.

The Publishers Association is looking to recruit 10,000 ‘reading amabassadors’ to promote reading for pleasure.

Joy Court is very interesting on the impact of the Carnegie and Greenaway awards shadowing scheme on reading.

The shortlist has been announced for the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award.

Teenage reader Ayesha suggests the way to halt the decline in reading for pleasure is to give books a go.

‘The reality of reading to toddlers’ is entertaining and useful.

Finally, an article on why listening to podcasts helps improve reading skills.