As most of our regular readers are aware, this year has been a particularly challenging one in the Along Came Poppy household. The Mini Reviewers, now 4, 5 and 8, have had to deal with some huge changes and as a result there have been lots of big emotions flying around. The children have all experienced disturbed sleep, outbursts of anger as well as increased crying. These three things, according to the parents of 4-11 year olds recently surveyed by BookTrust, the UK's largest children's reading charity, are the most common signs of young children being worried or anxious.
I am a firm believer in being honest and open about my feelings and always encourage my children to be the same, as they say "a problem shared is a problem halved". However, BookTrust's latest research highlighting the importance of reading for children's mental health, indicates that only just over half of children aged between 8-11 talk to their parents when they are feeling stressed, sad or worried. 39% of children in this age range even admit to finding it difficult to talk about their feelings or emotions.*
It is hard to replicate the wonderful closeness created by sitting down and reading together as a family. This is the perfect opportunity to introduce those so often difficult to talk about topics in a calm and non confrontational way. The Mini Reviewers certainly open up and talk more easily when there is a book open on my lap!
Over the past year and a half we have used picture books to help when close relatives have died; to address our changing family dynamics; and most recently to talk about what the children can expect when their new sister enters the world in the new year.
When considering for new books to address those tricky topics, I often turn to my little community of book bloggers and enthusiasts for recommendations. I also scour the shelves of our local book shops and library, as well as reading online reviews and looking at the BookTrust website, which has helpful themed booklists. This is how I first discovered Rabbityness the perfect book for helping young children deal with loss.
Books to prepare siblings for a new baby
The Mini Reviewers would like to share three books, which we have been using to help prepare for the arrival of our new baby:
Snuggle the Baby by Sara Gillingham is an interactive board book published by Abrams Appleseed. This is a brilliant book for toddlers and preschoolers as little readers can feed, change and swaddle the pop out baby that comes included. Mini Reviewer, Poppy, who has just turned 4 adores this book and reading it together has been an ideal way to explain what the new baby will need and the importance of being gentle!
15 things NOT to do with a baby written by Margaret McAllister and illustrated by Holly Sterling is our second recommendation. I chose this book for Mini Reviewer, Theo (5), in particular as I thought it would make him smile. The book starts by listing a number of ridiculous things you shouldn't do with a baby all of which I think Theo will possibly consider in the near future, in particular swapping her for the school guinea pig! However, the last three pages are dedicated to a list of things that should be done. As the illustrations depict siblings together it is a lovely way to get your child to consider how they can be involved with the new baby by singing, reading, cuddling and so on.
Our final choice is a little different. Described as an activity book for soon-to-be big brothers and sisters, The New Baby from Cicada Books is great for parents to start a conversation about the growing baby from the outset of pregnancy. The fun illustrations and opportunities to doodle and colour encourage the older sibling/s to think about themselves; their connection with the new baby; and what life might be life after her arrival. Mini Reviewer, Izzie (8), particularly likes the images of the developing baby and I think by completing this she will have a lovely keepsake to share with her sister in the future.
About BookTrust's Time to Read Campaign
In September BookTrust kicked off their fourth Time to Read Campaign by gifting 700,000 free books to 4 and 5 year old school children across England. The lucky recipients received a copy of The Cave by Rob Hodgson. This is part of BookTrust's mission to get families reading together and in turn helping children to share their worries. You can read more about Time to Read here.
If you would like to win yourself a Goody Bag of books from BookTrust then follow us on Instagram and keep an eye out for the competition post.
*This is a sponsored post and we were compensated for our time by BookTrust. The research quoted above was provided to us by BookTrust and conducted by Censuswide.