Recommended reads

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

The Incredible Record Smashers by Jenny Pearson

Lucy is a fixer of broken things. But there’s one thing she can’t fix TheIncredibleRecordSmashers cover
and that’s her unhappy mum. Until she comes up with an INCREDIBLE plan. Along with her best friend, Sandesh, Lucy is going to SMASH a world record.

Because she’s convinced that starry Paul Castellini – Record Smashers TV host and singing legend – is the answer to her mum’s problems. But breaking a world RECORD when watermelons, kumquats, two baddies and a 30 cm shatter-resistant school ruler are involved isn’t quite as easy as Lucy thought. Can she learn that sometimes happiness doesn’t come with a plan?

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Silos Sadness

Silo the lion cub has lost his grandfather due to the illness on the
Savanna, El the wise elephant helps Silo explore and manage his grief.

Written by one of our Dramatherapists, Talya Bruck and illustrated by Erin Cooper, this is a beautiful story on how to navigate death and loss.

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My Uncle has Depression

This picture book aims to raise awareness of the impact that depression can have on an individual and their family, in a child-friendly and supportive way. It is aimed at 4-11-year olds and has been inspired and informed by people with lived experience of depression

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Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness

Through a poignant and moving family narrative, Cover of Another Kind of Madness book
interlaced with shocking facts about how America and the world still view mental health conditions well into the 21st century, Another Kind of Madness is a passionate call to arms regarding the importance of destigmatising mental illness.

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Building Children's Resilience in the Face of Parental Mental Illness

Edited by Alan Cooklin and Gill Gorrell Barnes, published by Routledge, 2020

When parents suffer a mental illness their children face
multiple challenges. They manage stigma, self-doubt and self-blame, ongoing anxiety and depression. These issues are rarely talked about in the public domain.

This important new book, written from their different perspectives focuses on the relationships between children and young people, parents and professionals and their emotional and life issues, and gives action points which promote resilience in the children.

Parental mental illness has been identified as a key Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), but the small interventions described in the book, given at the right time, can make significant differences, both in the present and future lives of children and parents.

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What is Mental Health? Where does it come from? And Other Big Questions

What is Mental Health? Where does it come from? And Other Big QuestionsWritten by Dr Lucy Maddox, published by Hachette Children’s Group , 2020

This book is aimed at young people aged 10 and upwards.

Mental health gets talked about a lot, but what is it? And where does it come from?

This book explains what mental health is, considering how it relates to lots of different experiences, from how we manage really big feelings, to how we get on with each other, how we make choices and how we handle stressful situations. The book thoughtfully examines the things that can help us look after our mental health and the things that might make it feel worse. It has suggestions for the support on offer if we feel we’re struggling.

It includes specially-written contributions from Chamique Holdsclaw, US gold medallist basketballer, academics Dr Suzi Gage and Professor Marianne Van Den Bree, poet Fisky, artists Christine Rai and Liz Atkin, mental health advocate Chineye Njoku and Dr Alan Cooklin, psychiatrist and founder of the charity Our Time which helps children whose parents experience mental health problems.

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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.


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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