There are a plethora of good books out there for children, but finding great ones that engage their inquisitive young minds, while helping them to feel more confident, self-assured and happy? That can be more challenging
In the UK alone, tens of thousands of titles are published and translated each year. Between all of the digital and print books being made available, finding high-quality books children can not only enjoy, but benefit from reading can be a challenge. Finding that balance between fun but educational, engaging but impactful can be tough – especially as just 26% of 10-year-olds in the UK ‘like reading’, with around a third (37%) choosing to read each day for fun.
According to The Reading Agency, research suggests that children who read books often at age 10 do better in key areas including gaining higher results in Maths, vocabulary, and spelling tests. Research has also suggested reading can have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing, enhancing empathy, self-understanding, relaxation, feelings of calm, confidence, and self-esteem.
We share three books for children aged seven and up that promote happiness, self-confidence and positive mental health in fun, engaging ways.
Create Your Own Happy
by Penny Alexander and Becky Goddard-Hill
illustrated by Clare Forrest
A fun-filled, inspirational activity book, Create Your Own Happy does exactly what it says: teaches kids how to create their own moments of happiness. Providing a mixture of easy to follow exercises and activities, as well as positive life lessons focused on happiness, Create Your Own Happy is a great book for children aged seven and up to use by themselves or with the help of an adult.
Created by the award-winning blogger duo Penny Alexander and Becky Goddard-Hill, Create Your Own Happy is full of beautiful, uplifting anecdotes that explain in simple terms the science behind what makes us happy or sad.
Full of activities from planting a seed bomb to crafting a recycling monster or making a happy playlist, this books sends out the message that ‘your happiness is your superpower’, reinforcing the idea to children that they can shape their future and make happy happen by spreading it to those around them.
Offering practical help and a fun approach that can appeal to both children and parents, Create Your Own Happy is a great choice for parents who are looking for a supportive book that can help kids take positive steps towards feeling (and confusing on their own) happy.
With both activities to try, pages to fill in, and space for kids to reflect alongside each exercise, the book encourages kids to not only try new activities that can boost happiness, but to reflect on how they went, learn how and why the activity works, and discover how it can help them to feel happier. This simple but effective formula not only works well independently (for most activities) but can also be fun for kids to try together with friends or family.
Diary of a Brilliant Kid: Top Secret Guide to Awesomeness
by Andy Cope, Gavin Oattes and Will Hussey
illustrated by Amy Bradley
“Congrats. You’re alive. But are you really living? And when you get a bit older and pressure really kicks in, will you be able to shine?” Diary of a Brilliant Kid: Top Secret Guide to Awesomeness asks some tough questions, all in the aims of helping children age 8-12 to begin reflecting and working on their personal development before the even tougher teenage years kick in.
Designed to help tweens navigate life’s ups, downs, and in-between, Diary of a Brilliant Kid uses the science of positive psychology to help kids learn how to take charge of their own wellbeing. Using a mixture of science, stories, theories, top tips, quotes, and information to teach kids more about their wellbeing and how they can look after themselves.
The rules of growing up have changed dramatically over recent years thanks to the rise of social media and digital access. Everything’s going faster, pressures are bigger than ever, and everything is on the up except for happiness and wellbeing which are at all-time lows.
For children in that in-between age of not quite a teen, but feeling more pressures and responsibilities than younger children, it can feel like everything is changing. Diary of a Brilliant Kid looks to highlight that this is an exciting time – the perfect time for kids to begin defining who they are and creating habits of thinking that can allow them to face the world from a more positive perspective.
Filled with quirky chapters such as ‘How to be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons’ and ‘Your future is bright: you’re gonna need shares’, it appeals directly to kids using friendly, relaxed language. Full of activities that help take readers from inside their own head, out into the world and everywhere their dreams may take them, Diary of a Brilliant Kid helps kids to discover their happiness and form positive habits from the inside-out.
Covering a broad range of topics from happiness and relationships to unleashing your inner superhero; pushing your comfort zone, to taking charge of your own feelings, the book makes complex (or often dry) but important things like mindfulness and breathing exercises in simple terms that children can not only understand, but can also see how important and beneficial they can be.
Created by Dr. Andy Cope, a positive psychology expert with a PhD in happiness; author Will Hussey; and award-winning comedian and best-selling children’s author Gavin Oattes, Diary of a Brilliant Kid blends together expertise, comedy and engaging writing to create a unique, colourful and fun book.
Offering sections children can fill out, activities to try, tips and funny anecdotes, this book offers a laid-back, casual and relatable approach to topics it can be tough to get kids interested in. Interspersed with inspiring quotes from real people and fictional characters alike, Diary of a Brilliant Kid looks not only at the power of positivity but on how kids can overcome adversity, keep trying no matter what, encouraging them to develop a positive growth mindset.
The Book of No Worries: A Survival Guide for Growing Up
by Lizzie Cox and Tanja Stevanovic
Placing itself as the essential guide to help young people cope with puberty, peer pressure, and all of the worries in between, The Book of No worries focuses on, well, how worrying different aspects of growing up can be – and how pre-teens through to teens can work through their worries.
Looking primarily at the emotional and mental wellbeing of tweens, The Book of No Worries reassures readers that their worries and fears are normal. Helping empower pre-teens and providing them with the tools to help them cope with everyday life stresses, the book covers a range of typical worries: from problems at school to relationships, social media to body image issues, troubles at home, anxiety and depression, plus everything in between.
Using a blend of friendly and funny language to help young people not only better understand what is worrying them, but to feel better able to manage these worries and address them head-on, The Book of No Worries aims to help young readers feel more confident.
Packed with case studies, real questions from tweens and difficult issues addressed in sensitive ways, the book offers helpful, positive and practical advice. Interspersed with humour and thoughtful illustrations, it focuses on the worries and anxiety young people can face while growing up, reassuring them that these feelings are normal and manageable.
With practical tips for managing anxiety and stress, pre-teens can discover new ways they can improve their emotional wellbeing and look after mental health. While a little more formal than some of the other books on this list, The Book of No worries is a great introduction for older kids looking for more information about specific topics, or for whom anxiety or worries are a particular concern.