Bright Recommends: 6 Books for Big Questions

As parents we are meant to be a source of knowledge for our children, well at least until they are old enough to Google, and even then we want them to double check with us. A child of 4 asks on average 390 questions a day!* That’s a lot of answers to give. Life’s big topics like death, divorce, bullying and change in general, can be daunting to adults, let alone to children. It’s so easy to say the wrong thing in the moment. There are often two outcomes to such conversations — a Q&A that puts Prime Ministers question time to shame, or a blank bewildered face. Let us help: Here are some amazing books that will get the conversation started and keep it on track.

Grandad's Island- Benji Davies (3+)

This award winning book works on many levels. It subtly and reassuringly deals with the loss of a beloved Grandparent and the sentiment that even though someone maybe gone or has moved away, they remain with us in our hearts and memories. For very young readers this is just a lovely, imaginative and colourful book about Syd and his Grandad’s adventure to a new island. But older readers understand the true premise of the story enabling conversations about moving away, death or just missing someone. A brilliant conversation starter for older children in a variety of situations, a very sympathetic story for such difficult subjects.

The Building Boy- Ross Montgomery and David Litchfield (Age: 4+)

A bittersweet story on what it is to love someone, lose them and keep their memory alive. It explores the grief of a little boy whose Grandmother passes away with what he believes is unfinished business, but through grieving he realises she may not be here anymore, but her legacy lives on through him. David’s illustrations are truly beautiful in this book depicting the tale in an enchanting and powerful way. This story is less subtle in it’s message than Grandad’s Island, and is arguably for children between 5 and 7. The building Boy serves as a great backdrop for converstaions with your own children about their feelings of loss, encouraging empathy and understanding of the boys position that may in turn help them to deal with their own feelings.

More People to Love Me- Mo O’Hara and Ada Grey (Age: 4+)

Families have changed, the nuclear family is becoming rarer with 25% of British households with families run by a single parent**. So unsurprisingly there are more step parents in the UK***. This may not be your family, but every child will know someone with a different family structure. Blended families can be a tricky topic to navigate but 'More People to Love Me' does an excellent job. Written about a little girl who has to draw a family tree, but struggles to fit everyone in. Her family is huge, and with step-parents, step-siblings and lots of grandparents to-boot, her tree is much bigger than everyone else's. But she doesn't see this as a bad thing, she sees how lucky she is to have so many people who love her. A wonderful book to introduce the idea of expanded families to children, turning what some see as a negative for a cold into an abundance of positivity.

Mum and Dad Glue- Kes Gray and Lee Wildish (Age: 3-8)

Exploring the difficult topic of family separation as above, but in an entirely different way. This book is written at the moment a child first hears that their parents are separating and the journey to accepting and understanding what this means for them and their family. The little boy in the story just wants to mend his family- but he needs the right glue to do so, he goes on a hunt to find something that will stick his family back together. But there just isn't a Mum and Dad glue that will work and the boy realises that you can't fix everything. He must learn to accept change. This story is great for children who are struggling to come to terms with the divorce or separation of their parents, who can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. The most important message is that no matter what happens with parents, one thing remains the same- that the love for their children is unconditional and will not change no matter what.

Thank Goodness for Bob- Matthew Morgan and Gabriel Alborozo (Age: 4+)

Children worry a lot. Worries form when change is afoot, when big things happen and we don’t know how to deal with them or just because. 'Thank Goodness for Bob', is the perfect discussion tool, placing the conversation at your child's level, instead of imposing what we as parents think is wrong. The story is about Max who worries all the time and finds comfort in discussing his concerns with Bob, his dog, who isn’t phased by anything. A beautiful and empathetic book that injects some humour into difficult topics to encourage children to talk through their worries in order to make them disappear. This book would be a really useful tool in conjunction with the others suggested.

Leave me alone- Kes Gray and Lee Wildish (Age: 3-8)

Bullying is such a hard topic for children to talk about- either they are too scared to say something or they believe that they will be disliked for telling tales- but no-one should face being bullied alone and this is exactly what Kes Gray and Lee Wildish explore wonderfully in this story. The little boy is alone and wants it to stay this way. His friends keep on asking if he is ok- but all he says is "Leave me alone". His friends know that something isn't right and that a problem shared is a problem halved but the little boy thinks his problems are too big for his friends to help him with. The bully is a giant in his mind, who can't be talked down by anyone, he's too big, too nasty and too strong to be stopped. Well maybe this is true for just one person, but what if all his friends tell the bully to stop? A brilliant tale that makes a difficult topic much easier to digest and encourages children to talk about their problems because what seems insurmountable often isn't.

These books are available to purchase in store at The Bright Emporium. If you are in the area come on by and talk to our helpful and knowledgable Emporium team about these books, or ask about other areas of interest, we are happy to help! Stay tuned for more of bright Recommends next month.

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