This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is Nature.
Our experiences over the past year have highlighted just how important green spaces and nature are to our mental health. During lockdown, our daily outside exercise became a lifeline for many – boosting not only our physical but our mental wellbeing too. For children, connecting with nature has the added benefit of helping them understand the world around them.
As ever, sharing picture books with children is a fantastic way to open up conversations about mental health and wellbeing, as well as inspiring a love of nature. So, below are my top six picture books to share this Mental Health Awareness Week. Enjoy!
Superheroes Don't Get Scared...Or Do They?
written by Kate Thompson and illustrated by Clare Elsom
I couldn't resist including my debut authored picture book in this list, which is brilliantly illustrated by Clare Elsom. Written in fast-paced rhyme, this story helps normalise fear while encouraging children to celebrate their own bravery (with a few giggles along the way!). A great starting point for conversations about fear and bravery.
The King Of The Swamp
written by Catherine Emmett and illustrated by Ben Mantle
This beautifully illustrated rhyming tale is brimming with an infectious love for nature, leaving young readers with the message that the beauty and wonder of nature can be found anywhere. An uplifting read for encouraging an appreciation of the world around us.
My Big Shouting Day!
written and illustrated by Rebecca Patterson
This funny and reassuring picture book helps children see that everyone feels shouty sometimes, but that these feelings won't last forever. Best of all, the story shows that the people that love you will always be there for you no matter how much you shout and stomp! Perfect for opening up conversations about anger and frustration.
written and illustrated by Tom Percival
Part of the brilliant Big Bright Feelings book series, Perfectly Norman sensitively explores the main character's feelings when he realises he's not the same as everyone else. Beautifully written and illustrated, it empowers readers to accept and celebrate what makes you 'you'. A must-read for children and grownups alike!
Greta And The Giants
written by Zoe Tucker and illustrated by Zoe Persico
This picture book inspired by environmental hero, Greta Thunberg, is a great starting point for conversations with children about valuing and protecting the natural world. It ends with an age-appropriate fact page and a call to action for any little environmental superheroes out there.
The Tale of the Whale
written by Karen Swann and illustrated by Padmacandra
This beautiful lyrical rhyming story with equally masterful art, takes you on a breathtaking voyage of discovery through the ocean, ending with the empowering message that we all have the power to save our seas. Each spread showcases different sea-dwelling animals, from the whale, to seals and even polar bears. This makes it ideal for discussions about the important role oceans play in our natural world and what we can do to protect them.