5 Books on Big Topics for Small Children - Donna David

Picture books are my favourite thing! They can make me snort with laughter or quietly chuckle. They can inspire me to visit somewhere or learn a new skill. Sharing books with my young children make up a large portion of my favourite memories. And sometimes, picture books can help us teach big topics to small children. They open discussions and provide a safe space for questions and exploration. Here are five of my favourites:

When Sadness Comes to Call

Eva Eland

This book has very few words but it does such an incredible job of introducing the ideas of emotional literacy and mental well-being to very small children.  Sadness turns up on the doorstep one day and follows our main character around.  We don’t know why it came or when it will leave but it’s there.  By embracing Sadness (taking it for a walk or drawing with it), the emotion becomes easier to live with until, one day, it completely disappears. 

It’s A No Money Day

Kate Milner

Growing up, my family didn’t have very much money but I only really recognised that once I was an adult.  My childhood was incredibly happy.  We had open space, friends living on our street and lots of adult attention.  When reading ‘It’s a No Money Day’, it’s easy to see that day to day life is a struggle for the mum and she feels shame in visiting the food bank.  I want to take that mum and tell her, ‘Look at your daughter.  She’s happy.  She’s loved.  She’s busy.  One day soon, things will get easier, but until then, you’re doing a wonderful job.’  

Oh No, Bobo!

Laura Watkins and Donna David

I’m a little bit biased with this one as I wrote it but I really wanted to include a picture book that gently introduces consent.  I believe all children should have autonomy over their bodies and be encouraged to express it.  If they don’t want to kiss someone goodbye, so be it; if they don’t want to be tickled then that’s OK. 

 

Bobo, an orangutan, romps through the jungle cuddling animals without asking.  It’s not until the very end, when Elsie the elephant does the same to him, that he realises the errors of his ways.

No Longer Alone

Joseph Coelho and Robyn Wilson-Owen

I read this book to my two-year old niece in a public library and I actually got a bit choked up.  The little girl in it is sad and feels alone.  People say she’s quiet or shy but she’s not.  She’s dealing with loss in her own way and, when she’s on her own, she makes a “racket” to express her sorrow.  By talking to her dad, she realises that she’s not alone.  A big cuddle from Dad doesn’t make the sorrow disappear, but it makes it manageable.  The last spread, with Dad and his daughters, surrounded by pictures of a missing mother, is poignant and moving. 

Where the Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak

This book is such a classic and, as such, means so many different things to so many different people.  For me, it teaches a young child that it’s OK to feel angry; it’s OK to take some time out.  Your family will still love you.  They’ll still be waiting for you when you come back. When Max stomps off to visit the wild things, he’s angry and frustrated.  He’s so mad that he sails off “through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year”.   When he calms down, he realises he misses home and, to the disappointment of his new Kingdom, he heads back to his bedroom where his “still hot” supper is waiting for him.

Many thanks to Donna David for compiling this guest booklist for us. You can find out more about Donna's new book Oh No, Bobo!  over on our blog.

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5 Books on Big Topics for Small Children - Donna David Picture books are my favourite thing! They can make me snort with laughter or quietly chuckle. They can inspire me to visit somewhere or learn a new skill. Sharing books with my young children make up a large portion of my favourite memories. And sometimes, picture books can help us teach big topics to small children. They open discussions and provide a safe space for questions and exploration. Here are five of my favourites: ​ When Sadness Comes to Call Eva Eland This book has very few words but it does such an incredible job of introducing the ideas of emotional literacy and mental well-being to very small children.  Sadness turns up on the doorstep one day and follows our main character around.  We don’t know why it came or when it will leave but it’s there.  By embracing Sadness (taking it for a walk or drawing with it), the emotion becomes easier to live with until, one day, it completely disappears. Buy Online It’s A No Money Day Kate Milner Growing up, my family didn’t have very much money but I only really recognised that once I was an adult.  My childhood was incredibly happy.  We had open space, friends living on our street and lots of adult attention.  When reading ‘It’s a No Money Day’, it’s easy to see that day to day life is a struggle for the mum and she feels shame in visiting the food bank.  I want to take that mum and tell her, ‘Look at your daughter.  She’s happy.  She’s loved.  She’s busy.  One day soon, things will get easier, but until then, you’re doing a wonderful job.’ Buy Online Oh No, Bobo! Laura Watkins and Donna David I’m a little bit biased with this one as I wrote it but I really wanted to include a picture book that gently introduces consent.  I believe all children should have autonomy over their bodies and be encouraged to express it.  If they don’t want to kiss someone goodbye, so be it; if they don’t want to be tickled then that’s OK. Bobo, an orangutan, romps through the jungle cuddling animals without asking.  It’s not until the very end, when Elsie the elephant does the same to him, that he realises the errors of his ways. Buy Online No Longer Alone Joseph Coelho and Robyn Wilson-Owen I read this book to my two-year old niece in a public library and I actually got a bit choked up.  The little girl in it is sad and feels alone.  People say she’s quiet or shy but she’s not.  She’s dealing with loss in her own way and, when she’s on her own, she makes a “racket” to express her sorrow.  By talking to her dad, she realises that she’s not alone.  A big cuddle from Dad doesn’t make the sorrow disappear, but it makes it manageable.  The last spread, with Dad and his daughters, surrounded by pictures of a missing mother, is poignant and moving. Buy Online Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak This book is such a classic and, as such, means so many different things to so many different people.  For me, it teaches a young child that it’s OK to feel angry; it’s OK to take some time out.  Your family will still love you.  They’ll still be waiting for you when you come back. When Max stomps off to visit the wild things, he’s angry and frustrated.  He’s so mad that he sails off “through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year”.   When he calms down, he realises he misses home and, to the disappointment of his new Kingdom, he heads back to his bedroom where his “still hot” supper is waiting for him. Buy Online Many thanks to Donna David for compiling this guest booklist for us. You can find out more about Donna's new book Oh No, Bobo!  over on our blog.

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