The ABC Book of Feelings
Helen Martin & Judith Simpson
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Many schools are now including mindfulness in their curricula as they encourage children to check in on their own feelings and those of their peers in a bid to promote and protect positive mental health. This book, the 9th in this series, will be a valuable addition to the resources as it not only introduces the range of human emotions but also reaffirms them as being natural rather than positive or negative; demonstrates that feelings change; and that others might respond to a particular situation in a way that we don’t experience or expect.
The latter point can be a tricky concept for little ones to understand as they are not yet mature enough to step beyond their own response to objectively look at others but the process can be started by having them compare food likes and dislikes so they begin to understand that there can be differences of opinion and that our personal experiences shape who we are and how we respond. For example, a little one I know who is so totally in tune with nature has no issue with having her pet snake as her hair adornment whilst others will shudder because their experiences with these creatures are very different! But knowing and accepting that we all respond differently can be a step towards minimising teasing and bullying.
Speaking directly to the reader, the authors not only introduce the more common emotions we experience but acknowledge that anger and sadness and apprehension are also natural and offer ways to deal with them so we can move on to a better place. They explain that other people can influence our feelings and even the way our body is feeling physically can have an impact. Who hasn’t been cranky when they’re hungry or have a headache or been in the sun too long?
Any book that helps little ones understand and acknowledge their feelings and know that they are the body’s natural response to events and are part of who we are as humans is important in not only helping us to know ourselves better but also to know others and help develop both empathy and resilience, both important in combating bullying.. With its charming illustrations and personalised text, this could be at the core of your collection of mindfulness and mental health resources.