Booklist: Children's books for supporting Emotiona Literacy

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Emotional Literacy Support

From mental health first aid to specialist work with Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSA) there's no doubt that stories can be a key tool in helping children to develop emotional literacy. Chosen especially for their value in dealing with mental health issues, feelings and emotions, the books on this list can be used with pupils to start conversations that enable children can begin to make sense of their own feelings and understand ways to manage and deal with their emotions. With thanks to specially trained ELSA Sue Mills at Garway Primary School for helping us to compile this list and for commenting on using these books with her school community.

The Invisible String 
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Patrice Karst & Joanne Lew-Vriethoff 
Picture book

A story about the connections between loved ones. A mother tells her two children that they're all connected by an invisible string. 'What Kind of String?' the children ask. The answer is the simple truth that binds us all: an Invisible String made of love. 


This book links to the whole school value of ‘love’ and can be used with children who might find separation from parents difficult, such as at dropping off time n the morning, for settling in new children in pre-school and reception or for children living through a prolonged period of separation from a family member.

On Sudden Hill
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Linda Sarah & Benji Davies
Picture Book 
Brit and Etho are the best of friends. Every day they take their cardboard boxes to the top of Sudden Hill and turn them into adventures.  But when Shu comes along, their comfortable two-by-two relationship is changed and Brit finds it difficult to adjust.  Eventually, with much persuasion from Etho and Shu, Brit learns that three-by-three can be even better.  This heartwarming story explores the feelings of insecurity many of us feel when a new personality comes along, and shows children that it is okay for friendships to change over time.

The story inks to the whole school value of ‘friendship’ and can be use with individuals or small groups of children experiencing friendship issues (e.g. when three children are finding it difficult to share each other) or for helping established friends to welcome new friends into their group.

The Worrysaurus
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Rachel Bright & Chris Chatterton
Picture book

A fun and reassuring tale about dealing with worries, all about a Worrysaurus who faces a series of worried thoughts about the picnic he has planned. Can Worrysaurus find a way to chase his fears away and have fun?

This story can be used to support children with high levels of anxiety, to help children to recognise the physical affects of anxiety and to support a whole school focus on developing resilience.

Shelter for Sadness
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Anne Booth & David Litchfield 
Picture book

A poignant and heart-warming picture book exploring the importance of making space and time for our own griefs, small or large, sensitively visualized with David Litchfield's stunning illustration. A small boy is sad, and instead of ignoring it or trying to push the feeling aside, he creates a shelter for his sadness - a safe space where Sadness can dwell until it is ready to leave the shelter.


This story can be used in a small group to support children experiencing sadness, e.g. after a loss or bereavement, or more widely to talk about the value of acknowledging feelings. It can also be useful to explore the concept of safe spaces​.

The Invisible
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Tom Percival
Picture book

A moving, powerful story that shines a light on those that feel invisible in our world. The Invisible is the story of a young girl called Isabel and her family. They don't have much, but they have what they need to get by. Until one day, there isn't enough money to pay their rent and bills and they have to leave their home full of happy memories and move to the other side of the city. There, Isabel goes on to make one of the hardest things anyone can ever make...a difference.

This story link to whole school values of tolerance, kindness and caring and can be used for developing a sense of belonging and community. It shows how anyone can make a positive impact on those around themn, regardless of how little they have.

The Colour Monster Goes to School 
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Anna Llenas
Picture book

Colour Monster is heading to school - but he is not really sure what exactly school is. Is it a spooky castle filled with terrifying animals? Or perhaps a place in the sky, amongst the rainbows and clouds?  With a little help from a friend, Colour Monster soon finds his feet at school and throws himself head first into lots of exciting activities.

This is a perfect for the first day of school when children are feeling nervous, as well as being a story that can open discussions about feelings associated with starting something new.


Perfectly Norman
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Tom Percival
Picture book

Norman loves his new wings, and has the most fun ever trying them out high in the sky. But then he has to go in for dinner. What will his parents think? What will everyone else think? Norman feels the safest plan is to cover his wings with a big coat. But hiding the thing that makes you different proves tricky and upsetting. Can Norman ever truly be himself?

This story  bout being true to onself links to the values of courage, diversity and tolerance and is a good book to use to talk about self-acceptance and daring to be different.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
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Carol McCloud & David Messing
Picture book

A story that encourages positive behaviour by using the concrete concept of an 'invisible bucket' that holds your good thoughts and feelings. 

This book links to the value of happiness and provides positive examples to children of how to show kindness, appreciation, resilience and love in their daily lives. It also promotes whole school positive behaviour and helps to explore the idea of how our actions can affect the feelings of others.

My Strong Mind
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Niels van Hove
Picture book

Kate is a sporty and happy girl. She does well at school and has many friends. But like every girl, she sometimes faces difficult situations at home or at school. Discover how Kate uses her strong mind to tackle her daily challenges with a positive attitude.

This story covers lots of areas of mental health and well-being and arms children with practical ways of developing their mental resilience to cope with challenges and develop a positive outlook. There are three books in the series.

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