Every October, educators and students around the globe come together to celebrate the importance and impact of books and school libraries during International School Library Month. There are so many reasons to celebrate school libraries and their books, which offer children and young people so many opportunities to escape to a new world, experience major moments within history, learn about different cultures and build key language, literacy and social skills.
How did One Team Logic, the makers of MyConcern, celebrate International School Library Month?
Keeping children safe is at the heart of all we do, and we believe that books can help people of all ages to understand extremely complex issues such as mental health, bullying, digital dangers and grooming. To celebrate this month, we have put together our “Top 12 List” of books written to help children and young people understand some of the challenges and risks they may encounter together with some ideas for dealing with them. These books are in order of age suitability from young children to young adults.
1. “The Huge Bag Of Worries” By Virginia Ironside
The Huge Bag of Worries is a brilliant book for exploring worries and anxiety with younger children. In this book the character Jenny, who has always been a happy and cheerful girl, finds that she is now being followed by a big blue bag full of worries. The book demonstrates that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, and that there is always someone you can talk to about your concerns.
2. “The Internet Is Like A Puddle” By Shona Innes
In a time where toddlers and young children can use web-enabled devices almost intuitively it is vitally important to teach children how to enjoy online activity safely and in moderation. This book offers a good introduction to the wonders of the internet, as well as the dangers. The author compares the internet to a puddle: it is great fun to play in but can also be deceptive, making the topic accessible and fun for young children.
3. “I Have The Right To Be A Child” By Alain Serres
This beautifully illustrated picture book has been endorsed by Amnesty International. Each page has specific artwork which relates to one of the 54 articles within the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Topics covered include poverty, education, gender, race and many more.
4. “Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept” By Jayneen Sanders
This book tackles the mightily important subject of consent and inappropriate touch for children. Sir Alfred is a little boy who lives in the castle where his mother works, which is owned by Lord Henry. Lord Henry often looks after Sir Alfred, their relationship starts off well, however Lord Henry starts touching Alfred inappropriately and warning him not to tell anyone. This book highlights the importance of telling a responsible adult like a parent or teacher if someone makes you feel uncomfortable.
5. “There’s A Boy Just Like Me” By Frasier Cox
Frasier Cox is a 10-year-old primary school student who wrote this book for a competition run by Book People. It tells the story of a friendship between a British boy and a child refugee. It is a beautiful read, highlighting that the two boys are so very similar and can enjoy all sorts of the same things, but that their lives have been so different. The thought-provoking tale teaches children a strong message of kindness, friendship and understanding that is so important in our rapidly diversifying world.
6. “Tales From The Bully Box” By Cat Woods
This book collates a number of stories about bullying. Each account entirely different from the next. Some have been written by people who have suffered bullying, others by those who have recognised that they were themselves the bully, and many written by those who have been bystanders to bullying. It is a brilliant resource for opening discussions with children, equipping the reader with a set of questions after each story which have been designed to help children figure out what the best thing to do would be should they ever find themselves in a similar setting.
7. “What Does Consent Really Mean?” By Pete Wallis
Suitable for teenagers, this comic strip style book follows the story of the conversations held between students after the sexual assault of a class mate. It makes a truly enormous topic incredibly accessible and easy to understand for young people. It touches on the nature of victim blaming and judgement from peers, as well as providing a frank breakdown of exactly how consent works. It is a simple and quick read (with some mild swear words), and also includes some helpful resources.
8. “Blame My Brain” By Nicola Morgan
The book explains the huge changes that take place inside the brain throughout teenage years, and how these changes might affect the way they behave. It is written in a humorous and accessible language that is suitable for teenagers and young people but is backed up by solid scientific principles. It even has the support of the UK’s top clinical psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen.
9. “Mind Your Head” By Juno Dawson
Written by a former PSHCE teacher and suitable for older teens and young adults, this book explores the range of issues facing young people’s mental health. It covers complex topics such as self-harm, eating disorders, addiction and personality disorders in a clear and supportive way. The author draws on real stories from young people and explains ways of managing similar issues. The book has been described as “well-researched,” “honest,” “accessible” and “funny.”
10. “Secrets For The Mad: Obsessions, Confessions And Life Lessons” By Dodie Clark
Written by Dodie, a much-loved YouTuber who has openly battled with her own mental health, this book contains a collection of personal stories, lessons, song lyrics, and photos. It offers a brilliant lifeline for older teenagers and young adults facing their own mental health struggles. Reviews have said that this book will bring tears to your eyes, and then turn them to “laughter and joy.”
11. “A Beginners Guide To Being Mental” By Natasha Devon
Natasha Devon is heavily involved with campaigning for better provisions and awareness for mental health problems. Her personal experiences, expertise and strong sense of humour make this book a must-read for teenagers and young adults. It gives a complete A-Z of everything mental health related, from body image, to anxiety, to therapy and much more.
12. “When The Adults Change, Everything Changes” By Paul Dix
Finally, this one is for any adult working with children and young people. Paul Dix shows the relationship between behaviours of teaching staff and students in schools. The book provides effective strategies and practical advice for managing your own behaviours and habits to change the behaviours of students in your care. Reading it will give you insight to reflect on the things that you already do well, as well as the things that could really do with some improvement. Reviews have said that this book will not only make you a better support for students, but also a better human – a bold claim so definitely worth checking it out!
One of the things that always impresses us about children and young people is their inner resilience. It is incredible how, with the right support, they can recover and thrive after the most serious of setbacks. The common theme of these books is that they help to build that inner resilience and equip children and young people to avoid or deal with life’s challenges and risks. Enjoy!
Sam Franklin writes on behalf of One Team Logic, the makers of MyConcern.