Recommended reads

Our Time has compiled a list of recommended reads that may be helpful to you and your family.

The Truth Pixie

Book cover of pixie and a mouseWritten by Matt Haig, illustrated by Chris Mould, published by Canongate, 2018

This funny and heartwarming story, written in rhyme, from bestselling author Matt Haig tells the story of how a pixie learned to love herself.

The book is a read-aloud bedtime story, which encourages young children (age seven and above) to talk about their anxieties.

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The Wise Mouse

The Wise Mouse book coverWritten by Virginia Ironside, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, published by YoungMinds, 2003

This book has been created to help children aged between five and 11 years old understand what’s happening when a family member has a mental illness.

This story is about a girl called Maria who’s concerned about her mother’s behaviour. She sometimes wonders why her mum behaves in a strange way. But help is at hand, in the form of a little (and very wise) mouse, who talks to Maria about her worries.

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The Bipolar Bear Family: When a Parent Has Bipolar Disorder

Book cover of a family of polar bearsBy Angela Ann Holloway, published by AuthorHouse, 2006

This book has been written for children age five plus.

A young bear cub is struggling to understand his mother’s behaviour and subsequent diagnosis of bipolar disorder. The book covers young people’s questions such as: is this my fault, is it contagious, and can I fix it?

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Ruby's Worry

Ruby's Worry book coverWritten and illustrated by Tom Percival, published by Bloomsbury, 2018

Ruby is followed around by her worries in the form of a huge yellow creature that just keeps on growing. This picture book for three to six-year-olds explores the concept of worry, and how sharing your concerns with someone you trust can help to reduce anxiety.

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Charlie Changes Into a Chicken

Charlie Changes Into a Chicken book coverWritten by Sam Copeland and illustrated by Sarah Horne, published by Penguin Books Ltd, 2019

This illustrated novel for six to 11-year-olds tells the story of a boy who involuntarily changes into animals. However, this only happens when he gets panicked or worried. Charlie’s brother is seriously ill in hospital and there is a clear disconnect between what Charlie is going through at home and the mask he is expected to put on for school.

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Gilly the Giraffe Self-Esteem Activity Book

Gilly the Giraffe book coverWritten by Dr Karen Treisman and illustrated by Sarah Peacock, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019

This is both a therapeutic story and creative activity book for five to 10-year-olds. Gilly’s life has lots of brilliant aspects to it, but she struggles to be confident. She knows she stands out, but can she be different and be cool?Developed by expert child psychologist Dr Karen Treisman, this story starts conversations and allows children to explore the themes in the book through creative activities. There are also accompanying notes for adults on how to boost self-esteem and confidence in children.

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Explaining why a parent is in hospital

Stories/Guides: These booklets have been created by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation to help children and young people from the age of three upwards understand their parents’ mental health problems and why they are in hospital.

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Can I Catch It Like A Cold?

Can I Catch it Like a Cold? book coverBy the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, illustrated by Joe Weissmann, published by Tundra, 2009

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Why Are You So Sad? A Child's Book About Parental Depression

Why Are You So Sad book coverWritten by Beth Andrews, illustrated by Nicole Wong, published by American Psychological Association, 2002
This book explains to children how a parent feels when they have depression and how it can affect them. It also provides information about the symptoms and treatments that are available to people who have depression. The book reassures children that their parent’s depression is not caused by them, but also explains there is nothing they can do to help their parent get well. In addition to this, there are tips for children on how to help themselves and strategies for coping.
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Help! My Feelings Are Too Big!

Book cover for Help! My feelings are too bigK. L. Aspden. Foreword by Louise Michelle Bombèr, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019

This book offers friendly support for children aged nine to 12 years old who are overcoming early trauma, or dealing attachment disorders or anxiety. This book explains emotions like anxiety, how you can live with these emotions, and how safe adults can help to build a sense of strength and calmness within.

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I'm Not Alone: A Teen's Guide to Living with a Parent Who Has a Mental Illness

I'm Not Alone book coverWritten by Michelle D Sherman PhD and DeAnne M Sherman, illustrated by Nicole Wong, published by Seeds of Hope Books 2002

This book focuses on teenagers’ experiences of living with a parent who has a serious mental illness, with particular attention to depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. The reader learns about the causes of mental illness, common symptoms of each disorder, the role of mental health professionals, and treatment options. A variety of educational techniques are used throughout the text including stories, poems, inspirational quotes, and key lessons. This practical, reassuring book connects with readers so they feel informed, in control, hopeful, and not alone.

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Finding My Way: A Teen's Guide to Living with a Parent Who Has Experienced Trauma

Finding My Way book cover

Written by Michelle D Sherman PhD and DeAnne M Sherman, illustrated by Nicole Wong, published by Seeds of Hope Books 2002

This book clearly explains post-traumatic stress disorder and other common responses to trauma, reviews co-occurring problems (including addictive behaviour), and describes numerous treatment options. This honest and respectfully written manual serves as a roadmap for teens who are trying to find their way.

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