October 2020

Families First News

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Reading Well for Children

Children have had a lot to cope with this year. Reading Well for Children is a collection of books chosen by experts to support children’s mental health and wellbeing. The booklist is available here. This booklist can be shared with parents and carers and includes many books to help them to discuss the difficult issues with their children.

The books cover general information and advice about:

  • maintaining good mental health and wellbeing
  • understanding and managing feelings
  • dealing with worries
  • navigating the world around you, including at school, online and in the news
  • dealing with tough times, including when someone dies, trauma, and when a parent or carer has mental health needs
  • support for living well with specific diagnosed conditions including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and physical disabilities.

Anyone supporting children and families can use the scheme to recommend helpful reading. The books are free to borrow and are available in Hertfordshire Libraries. The booklist is targeted at children in Key Stage 2 (aged 7-11), but also includes a wide range of reading levels that will appeal to younger children and will also support less confident readers. The books are great for children to read together with their siblings and carers.

The Reading Agency have created a PowerPoint about the collection that you may wish to view, please click here. The publishers have also provided resources that can be used to make children aware of the books and the issues they cover: https://tra-resources.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/entries/document/4074/Classroom_resources.zip

Dr Clare Etherington, GP, says “I don’t think books replace formal counselling and help, but they can empower and help family conversations. I think books can be starting points for things that are difficult to discuss”. Reading books such as Ruby’s Worry, Me and my Fear and What’s Going on inside my Head will help families to create the space for these helpful discussions.

Even before lockdown and the difficult issues this year, there has been concern about the mental health and wellbeing of children.

  • One in eight (12.8%) 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental health condition when assessed in 2017.
  • Over a third of parents of children aged 4-11 (34%) worry about their child’s mental health at least once a week, and these worries appear well placed as almost two thirds (60%) of children aged 8-11 say they feel stressed, sad or worried at least once a month.
  • There has been an increase over time in the prevalence of mental health needs in 5 to 15 year olds. Rising from 9.7% in 1999 and 10.1% in 2004, to 11.2% in 2017.
  • Schools are on average making 183 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) referrals every school day. Most referrals (56%) came from primary schools.

Reading Well for Children is a resource that has been clinically endorsed by experts; you don’t need to be familiar with the books yourself to feel comfortable recommending books from the list as part of your wellbeing provision.

All Hertfordshire’s large and medium libraries are now open. The website www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/libraries has information regarding current opening hours and the measures that have been put in place to ensure safety and social distancing. Staff will be very happy to show customers where the Reading Well for Children collection is shelved. The reservation service is also now available for books to be drawn in from other libraries – this service can be accessed in person or online.

As World Mental Health day was on 10th October, this is a perfect time to make families aware of the Reading Well for Children collection available in their local library.


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