Happiness Is...A Good Book: Our Top 5 Positive Books for Young People's Wellbeing

With a combined 36 year's experience working with young people, we have seen our fair share of kids' books. Here's our top five favourites...

Zeena Hicks


1 - The Huge Bag of Worries - by Virginia Ironside (Author), Frank Rodgers (Illustrator)

One little girl experiences increasing fear and worries after overhearing other people talking about problems (her parents, the news, her teachers and friends for example) and begins to catastrophise those thoughts until she is carrying around a huge bag of worries. Luckily there is someone who can help her shine a light on her fears.

This is a fantastic book to help children to understand what happens when we keep fears and worries bottled up, and how much nicer it feels to share and talk about them. We also found it a great reminder to watch what we (adults) say around young people, as children overhear far more than many parents think. A large number of young people we work with take on adult worries that shouldn't be theirs, and, without context or experience, can misunderstand or misinterpret things.

2. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse - by Charlie Mackesy

Much loved by adults and children alike, Charlie Mackesy's book follows the adventures of four unlikely friends who share a deep unbreakable bond. Throughout their journey they share thoughts, experience and wisdom about kindness, empathy, courage, friendship and cake. Not only are the words moving and inspired, the book is beautifully depicted with delicate illustrations.

3. The Dot - by Peter H Reynolds

Vashti thinks she can't draw and decides drawing is stupid. Her teacher believes everyone can draw and through gentle support and encouragement, Vashti starts to believe in herself and build her self-belief.

One of our favourite stories and a great reminder of the power of having someone believe in you and looking at things from a different perspective. The Dot helps show that everyone has the ability to unlock their creative spirit.

Such is its power, it even inspired 'International Dot Day' which is held each year around September 15th.

4. The Song of the Lioness - by Tamora Pierce

First released in the 1980's, this book was one of the ones that opened Tamara’s eyes and heart to the power of narrative and instilled in her a love of reading that she cherishes to this day. She thinks she has read this story a hundred times (and The Immortals quartet) and never tires of it.

It tells the story of Alanna, a young girl who wants to be a knight instead of going off to school to learn to be a lady. With the help of her twin, Thom, she disguises herself as a boy and begins her training at the palace.

This wonderful story inspires people to look beyond typical gender stereotypes and follow the passions of their heart. It is a story of courage, perseverance, determination and friendship and it just goes to show that with the right attitude, you can achieve your dreams.

5. Charlotte's Web - by E. B. White

Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you. You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.' – Charlotte’s Webb, E.B White.

This classic children's story tells the heart-warming story of a friendship between a little girl named Fern, her beloved pig, Wilbur, and Charlotte, a beautiful grey spider. When Wilbur is declared to be 'ready to become bacon', all of Wilbur's friends work as a team to help save his life.

The themes of the story include the power of friendship, loyalty, unconditional love, and celebrating what makes everyone special. Wilbur isn't always the kindest or most selfless creature, so it has many opportunities to discuss alternative scenarios or ways of saying things. It also invites the opportunity to discuss death and bereavement in a non-threatening way and explore what it means for the people left behind.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about these books and why we chose them. We are always looking for new inspiration, so we'd love to know which books you recommend too.

With a combined 36 year's experience working with young people we have seen our fair share of kids' books. There's no doubt that reading to, or with, your child can have a significant impact on their wellbeing.

Whether the moral message is subtle or explicit, discussing the reasons characters do things and how they feel about what's happening can be an invaluable doorway to talking about how your child is feeling and why.

There are so many amazing books to choose from to teach about the value in sharing, kindness and gratitude; or how people build perseverance, resilience and courage. Here's our list of the top 5 books we recommend for children and young people's wellbeing: