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Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) focuses on developing the knowledge, skills and attributes to keep children and young people healthy and safe and to prepare them for life and work. The books in this section cover a range of PSHE topics including bullying, disability, family issues and racism. There are both fiction and non-fiction titles and cover age ranges from Toddler to Older Teen.
June 2021 Debut of the Month | Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Ace of Spades is an explosively exceptional debut. An incisively subversive, edge-of-your-seat thriller that takes the genre to jaw-droppingly unexpected extremes as it exposes horrific, deep-rooted institutionalised racism. The action centres around an elite high school in the white part of town. It has an all-white student population, except for our two principle characters - musician and scholarship student Devon, and privileged aspiring Yale alumnus Chiamaka. Devon (Von to his proud, hardworking Ma) can’t wear his hair in twists or cornrows here, and Chiamaka, of Nigerian and Italian heritage, feels compelled to hide her natural hair, and has adopted a “kill or be killed” stance - to achieve the success she’s set on, Chiamaka knows she’ll have to be tougher than tough. Devon and Chiamaka are sent reeling when an anonymous texter, Aces, starts revealing their deepest, darkest secrets, and it doesn’t take much to realise why they’re being targeted - the colour of their skin. And so a cruel cat-and-mouse game unfolds - two mice trapped in a destructive nightmare and a malicious cat motivated by racism, with homophobia weaponised too. While there are shocks aplenty (of the rare, ingeniously interwoven variety), the story is compellingly complex, with finely considered character exposition, and no simplified, clear-cut dichotomies drawn between who we can trust, and who should be top of our suspect list. The mounting tension is powerfully palpable, as is the embedded racism Devon and Chiamaka are subjected to - it runs deeper and wider than they (or readers) can possibly anticipate. Turns out, no one can be trusted; that there’s more than one cat in this hideous game. Oh, and there are romantic entanglements too, all of which means Ace of Spades delivers on all fronts - mystery, romance and tackling important issues in explosive style. What more could a reader ask for? *** Find a must-read letter from Faridah to her readers, attached to the extract.
From an award-winning author, who knows how important friends can be through his own fight with cancer, and at a time when so many families have faced loss and grief, this is a perfectly pitched description of exactly what empathy means in real life. Even very small children will be able to find and recognise the situations and feelings so well described and captivatingly illustrated. They will know how they feel sad sometimes about such things as a broken toy or a dropped ice cream and know what helps them feel better. What it also captures so beautifully is that every single person is unique and no one thing will work for everyone. In very practical terms there are heartfelt suggestions here of things and suggestions that can and do and obviously have helped. There is an unmistakeable authenticity to the carefully crafted words which are the very opposite of sentimental verse in a greetings card.
A great book for sharing with lots of super illustrations. It is written in such a way as to indicate the age markers children demonstrate in their independence. When they can dress themselves, do buttons, zips etc, though I find the skill of undressing definitely comes first!! I like the pages where the child is asked to match socks, recognise front and back and the order you put clothes on. The illustrations to these pages are both colourful and amusing. It is always comforting to know your child isn’t the only one with clothes on back to front with vital elements missing. A delightful and practical guide.
The Time to...is a series of clear and well-illustrated books for very young children to share with their parents and carers. The books are inclusive, embracing all elements of society and offer an instructive and supportive resource for those caring for pre-schoolers. Time to Go to Nursery is a super introduction before that big first day. Often a big first day for adults too. A great book for discussion with fun illustrations involving counting bricks and food. An encouraging and colourful book that would excite and entice a child who might be a little unsure about what nursery involves. It covers everything involved in those first few days, such as meeting people, doing new things and being away from home in a really relaxed and encouraging way provoking discussion and allaying worries.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Anna has friends at school, a kind teacher, she’s not being bullied, yet still she feels anxious, subdued, and terribly conscious that her friends’ lives are much busier than hers, a round of after school lessons, activities and clubs. The arrival in her class of new girl Ellie changes everything however. Ellie is ill and can’t come to school, instead she communicates via a special robot, quickly named Ellie-bot by the class. As the two girls become friends, Anna finds herself inventing the kind of home life her friends have, scared that her normal life is too small-scale to impress Ellie. The truth emerges, of course, but Ellie is wise enough to understand that it’s the small things in life that are the best. Quiet and gentle as it is, nonetheless this story packs a real punch and is delivered with the warmth, compassion and understanding that mark out Thompson’s writing. Published by dyslexia specialist Barrington Stoke, it is accessible to all readers.
June 2021 Debut of the Month | Seventeen-year-old Chloe is on track for good grades and attending a top college but everything falls apart after she collapses while running and is told that she needs a new heart. Eight months after her transplant, everything is different. Stuck in summer school with the underachievers, all she wants to do is go surfing– which is strange, because she’d never surfed before her transplant. (It doesn’t hurt that her instructor, Kai, is seriously good looking.) But that’s not all that’s strange. There’s also the vivid recurring nightmare about crashing a motorcycle in a tunnel and memories of people and places she doesn’t recognise. Is there something wrong with her head now, too, or is there another explanation for what she’s experiencing? As she searches for answers and as her attraction to Kai intensifies, what she learns will lead her to question everything she thought she knew…
The premise of this fascinating book is two teenagers from opposite sides of the world who form a connection through odd circumstances. Natalie has just lost her Mum to cancer and struggles to find a calm place in the world, whilst her brother reacts by rebelling and joining a hate filled far right anti-refugee protest and action group. Sammy has had to leave his home in Eritrea on the chance of a new life in Europe – running from conscription into the army - which is a form of slavery in his home country. Both characters have huge issues to face. Sammy’s seem more obviously dangerous and overwhelming, though Natalie’s are equally as difficult - without the imminent danger. Told through a narrative poem using both voices to alternately express their fears, dilemmas and friendships this is a book you really can’t put down. You have to know if Sammy and Natalie do get to meet. As the plot carries you along you also want to know more about the plight of refugees and the horrific characters that exploit them in many many ways. Natalie’s decision to swim the channel to raise funds for the refugee charities creates a counterpoint in the narrative. The detail of her struggles and training plan seem an unlikely text for poetry - but it works! The author says “I wanted to make sense of what I was seeing, I wanted to do something that would help build empathy and understanding.” She has most emphatically succeeded in this aim. This is such a profound story of hope, grief, and strength - I do recommend it to all. Be aware you will weep, too.
'Tiny Polly: The story of a brave chicken' is a little book with a big message. Written by Jinan Samman and beautifully illustrated in watercolour by Evgeniya Kozhevnikova, it can be shared with young children but is also simple enough to be tackled by beginner readers on their own. Polly lives on a farm with other chickens but because of her small size, she is not included in any of their activities. Desperate to be like the others, she tries to make herself grow but to no avail. It takes a serious occurrence when the farmer is away at market before the flock realises that Polly is more than worthy of their respect and friendship and that differences are to be praised not condemned. Her courage and ingenuity win acceptance in the end and her self esteem is really boosted. Children will more than likely pick up on the bullying by the bigger chickens and relate this to their own experiences, so the story is an excellent way to encourage the sharing of any concerns. Even if this is not a problem though, young children will surely appreciate the lesson the chickens learn in this delightful picture book and will read it again and again. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Amabssador
A funny and moving story about how a little girl copes with change after her parents separate. When Dad says that he's moving out, Lily-May feels all upside-down inside. But now Dad comes on Sundays, and they ride their bikes really fast and make secret dens together. Lily-May plays more just with Mum now, too - and when Mum's new partner Peter comes over, they play pirate ships! Sometimes, there are tricky moments - Lily-May hates it when Mum has to work late - but a birthday party with Lily-May's big fantastic family helps her realise just how many people love her. This reassuring celebration of non-nuclear families will help children to understand that they will always be loved, even if parents separate or divorce. Beautifully written in rhyme by the award-winning authors of the bestselling George's Amazing Adventures series, this uplifting story with a diverse cast of characters embraces all the positive aspects of becoming part of a blended family after a divorce or separation. Every Nosy Crow paperback picture book comes with a free Stories Aloud audio recording. Just scan the QR code and listen along!
Interest Age 7-10 Reading Age 8 | Written with great empathy and Rauf's trademark humour, The Great (Food) Bank Heist is a moving story that gives a child's-eye view of the increasing problem of food poverty. A percentage of all royalties earned from the sale of this book will be going towards Trussell Trust Food Banks, the Greggs Foundation Breakfast Club Programme and selected grassroots food bank charities.
Why the World is Not as Bad as You Think | From the same stable as the very excellent Dosh: How to Earn It, Save It, Spend It, Grow It we have a clear, accessible, fact packed analysis of the crises facing the world, charting the progress that has been made and the grounds for hope. I think everyone has recognised that this generation of young people may feel completely overwhelmed by what they have experienced and be suffering serious mental health issues as a result. This book aims to help re-set their view of the world. The fascinating introduction explains psychologically the human fascination for bad news and how media focuses on the memorable story, which is inevitably horrific. There is an excellent summation of what fake news is and the difference between disinformation and misinformation and then some brilliant tips on how to fact check and spot fake news. But this is by no means a recipe for complacency since every section: Humans, Politics, Planet, Health, Society and Arts, begins by outlining the problems, before the mix of quotes, anecdotes and fact boxes and case studies shows exactly what has been achieved already and what is in progress. This includes many projects that I certainly had never heard of, such as the Great Green Wall of Trees being built across the whole of Africa. Every section also includes Challenges – empowering ways in which an individual can contribute to solving and not being the problem. It is highly admirable that this book goes beyond the obvious environmental issues to include politics and society and it is salutary to remind ourselves of the progress made on human rights, education and equality. Also admirable and entirely fitting with the concept is a list of information sources and the origins of all the quotes used. An invaluable and much needed resource from an author with a real facility for straight talking and not talking down to young people.
The Time to...is a series of clear and well-illustrated books for very young children to share with their parents and carers. The books are inclusive, embracing all elements of society and offer an instructive and supportive resource for those caring for pre-schoolers. The pictures in Time to Go to Bed are so good for developing vocabulary, with lots of questions and answers. Where do you sleep – the beach, a bed, a basket? Why do we sleep – for energy, recovery. How do we know we are tired? The useful tips at the back are really comforting to tired and worried adults in need of some practical support and advice!
The Time to...is a series of clear and well-illustrated books for very young children to share with their parents and carers. The books are inclusive, embracing all elements of society and offer an instructive and supportive resource for those caring for pre-schoolers. Time to Care has plenty of interesting pictures providing points for discussion and would be ideal for a reception or nursery class PSHE lesson as it tackles so well the different types of caring – friends, family, environment, and the wider community. It has thoughtful ideas for parents and carers, such as the importance of saying thank you and thinking of the feelings of others.
A group of children get together to turn a patch of waste ground into a playground. But their big plans are knocked off course when big feelings get in the way. What to do? ‘Talk it out, talk it through’ of course. After some straight talking, and some ‘sorrys’ the smiles are back and the kids are working together again. ‘Whatever we’re feeling, we’re never alone’ the story concludes and its message of empathy and problem-solving comes over loud and clear. The story works particularly well because the gang of children – different in every way – are so lively, appealing and real, and the playground they created a terrific reward for their hard work. This is a great book to inspire discussions around feelings, and the importance of listening and working together. Tom Percival’s Big Bright Feelings series is equally good for starting such discussions.
There are sure to be hundreds, maybe thousands of books written about the pandemic and its impact, but few will match Outside Inside for insight, power or truthfulness. In 48 pages and less than 500 words, LeUyen Pham manages to describe and explain the events of the last 18 months, how we all moved outside inside (except those who needed to carry on – the doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, hospital porters). The words are beautifully simple; the pictures, a mix of full double page spreads, smaller montages and vignettes, seeming so but full of details, nuance and meaning. In a key moment, a page turn answers the question, ‘So why did we all go inside?’ with, ‘Mostly because everyone knew it was the right thing to do.’ Featuring people from across the globe, it unites us all, no matter how different our lifestyles and, though it’s not afraid to acknowledge loss, it ends on a message of hope: the arrival of spring, inside and outside. A timely, welcome book, composed with immense care and attention.
34 disabled artists, thinkers, athletes and activists from past and present | In this important new resource, author Cerrie Burnell has put together a fascinating collection of inspiring stories. As she says in her introduction when she was growing up as a child born with just one hand “there just weren’t enough books with a disabled protagonist” and “Everyone deserves to see someone like them in a story and achieving something great” Her own achievements are themselves inspirational and she has long been a disability rights campaigner as well as much loved CBeebies presenter and children’s author and so the whole book is infused with authenticity and passion. A double page spread for each of the 34 role models and two special sections on mental health and “invisible disabilities” are all evocatively illustrated by comic artist and graphic designer, Lauren Baldo capturing the time and spirit of the featured individual and giving real context to the highly readable and fascinating life stories. Starting in 1770 with Beethoven and finishing in 2001 with the birth of black, transgender disabled model superstar Aaron Philip, the life stories are commendably international and wide ranging, challenging our preconceived ideas of what is possible. From the familiar Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder to the less well known like break dancer Redouan Ait Chit, mountaineer Arunima Sinha, lawyer Catalina Devandas to celebrities like Lady Gaga,whose disability was a complete surprise to me, these stories will open eyes and minds. A comprehensive glossary and helpful discussion of language choices around disability and representation throughout add even more usefulness to this essential and attractive resource.
Winner of the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing 2020 | Winner of the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards for Non-Fiction | Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2020 | Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize 2020 | Diary of a Young Naturalist recounts a year in the life of an autistic and highly gifted 15 year old, struggling with school, bullies, moving house and fearing the decline of the natural world whilst rejoicing in it. Dara McAnulty is clearly an extraordinary person and a beautiful and mature writer. His descriptions of his adventures in nature are inspiring for children, but also sure to brighten the souls of many an adult too. The intensity with which nature presents itself to the author is overwhelming, and his ability to share this with the reader is enthralling. It’s a rollercoaster ride being in the head of this young man, but the book has the magic to open our eyes and ears to what beauty is around us each and every day - if only we looked! McAnulty's knowledge of wildlife and nature is simply extraordinary. His autism is a burden but also a super-power, providing him with piercing insight to a world that simply cannot be ignored with all its truth, tragedy and hope pouring out of every hedgerow, pond and dry stone wall. This is a diary which highlights our essential connection with the natural world, the landscape and our history embedded within it - but more importantly, it is also about our futures. Dara McAnulty is on a mission, and if the quality of this book is anything to go by, he will have a huge impact. For many children, this book will be the beginning of a wondrous journey. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival
Sixteen-year-old Steffi has been selectively mute since she was five. No-one really knows why, least of all her, but teenage readers will recognise the different pressures that she feels so acutely. Her mutism heightens her loneliness, and the loss of her much-loved step-brother in an accident has added terribly to her isolation. We meet her as she’s starting sixth form, set on reaching university, the pressure to speak greater than it’s ever been. Things change when Steffi meets Rhys, who is deaf. Steffi can sign and as their relationship grows we realise that real communication takes many forms. This is very much a story of two individuals but it will resonate with readers, who will understand Steffi’s problems, and be reassured by its message that you don’t have to be noisy to have lots to say, or to be heard. Readers will also enjoy Holly Bourne’s excellent Spinster Club books, or the Zelah Green books by Vanessa Curtis. Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
This companion to Beautiful Broken Things is a vital, powerful portrayal of the complexities of mental health, friendship and love. Now a legal adult, Suzanne, the self-declared “queen of fresh starts”, leaves her foster parents, acutely aware that “this time, I’m on my own”. She’s moving back to Brighton, the only place she’s ever felt a sense of belonging. “I’m overdue some goodness”, Suzanne muses as she moves into a basic bedsit, with Auntie Sarah and dear friends Rosie and Caddy on hand to help her settle in. But Rosie and Caddy soon head off to their respective universities, leaving Suzanne feeling abandoned. Lonely and struggling to make ends meet on the wages from her café job, she forms a friendship with her 79 year-old neighbour, a storyline that swells with raw, life-affirming beauty. Alongside this, painful mental health setbacks are triggered, and further rollercoaster rides come courtesy of a confusing, overwhelming romance with musician Matt. Honest, authentic, moving and entertaining, this all-consuming story is sensitive and wise on the complexities of growing up, and offers a guiding hand to young adults facing mental health struggles.
May 2021 Book of the Month | Ten-year-old Billie Upton Green opens up her doodle diary to readers, and what a treat it proves: a fabulously lively and idiosyncratic record of an eventful couple of weeks in her life. When a new girl joins her class, Billie is determined to make her feel welcome, even though Janey seems a bit of a show-off. She’s disconcerted that Janey doesn’t know what it means to be adopted, like Billie, or that you can have two mums, also like Billie. It gets harder to like Janey though when it appears she’s stealing Billie’s best friend, Layla. This also seems, to Billie, to put Janey in the frame for a sudden spate of thefts at their school, but the culprit is someone else altogether and by the end of the book, Billie, Layla and Janey are firm friends, the three of them performing a special dance at Billie’s mums’ wedding. Readers will love Billie’s adventures, and her funny, doodle-filled way of sharing them, as much as they love the Dork Diaries or Wimpy Kid stories, and it’s great too to see such a warm celebration of diverse family life.
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