It’s OK to Cry
Molly Potter, illustrated by Sarah Jennings
Featherstone (Bloomsbury Education)
Molly Potter’s latest book that offers both parents and teachers a starting point for developing emotional intelligence/ emotional literacy with youngsters is written particularly with boys in mind.
How many times in my teaching career have I heard a parent say to his/her young boy words such as “Stop all the fuss, boys don’t cry like that.”? Way too many; and if children are subjected to such comments from a very young age they soon internalise what they’ve been told and become afraid to show their feelings. Instead, from the outset we all need to encourage children to feel safe to talk about and show how they feel.
The author starts by presenting some commonplace scenarios to explore why it is that boys have a tendency to keep their emotions under wraps.
She then goes on to look at where some of the messages about ‘acting tough’ might come from, and to explore the importance of being able to articulate how you really feel.
This is followed by a look at a variety of different feelings, some positive, others negative. In each case the text is straightforward and easy to grasp, and offers starting points for opening up discussion, and is accompanied by Sarah Jennings bright, friendly illustrations.
There’s also a ‘park full of feelings’ that is a great discussion jumping off point, as well as some suggestions to help cope with ‘uncomfortable feelings’.
The final pages are directly aimed at parents and carers again with the emphasis on boys. Included is the stark reminder that ‘poor male emotional literacy is reflected in the fact that in the UK suicide is the single biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45.’
With a down to earth approach such as the one Molly Potter offers herein, let’s hope all children will develop coping strategies to deal with feelings and emotions.
The Happy Book
Alex Allan and Anne Wilson
Developed in collaboration with child, psychotherapist Sarah Davis, this accessible book explores with a young audience in mind, five emotions – happiness, sadness, anger, fear and worry.
The author’s tone is warm as she encourages readers to consider carefully so they can identify their feelings and possible causes, as well as the reactions they might cause.
Occasional questions add to the interactive nature of the text and for each emotion, there is a paragraph (or several) explaining the science of what happens in both the brain and the body: ‘When you are happy, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine that helps you to learn, remember and helps you sleep well.’
There are also ‘top tips’ as well as a host of other suggestions to encourage positive feelings.
Anne Wilson varies her colour palette according to each emotion so for example red reflects an angry mood
and blue-black, sadness in her amusing illustrations. I particularly like the green vegetable characters and I’m sure they will appeal to youngsters.
This book provides an ideal starting point for parents and educators wanting to develop emotional intelligence in young children.