Mind Yourself

The Covid-19 pandemic is a considerable source of worry for children and families, and young people are having to cope with big changes at home and at school. In response, Children’s Books Ireland, in partnership with Jigsaw and ISPCC Childline, is launching Mind Yourself – the Mental Health and Wellbeing Reading Guide today (Monday, October 5th 2020).

October 10th is World Mental Health Day – an international event that promotes mental health education and awareness. A recent UNICEF report found that children and young people in Ireland are struggling with their mental health, with Ireland placing 26th in the survey of 38 OECD countries when it comes to the mental wellbeing of children. As readers, we know the comfort books can provide during a difficult time and there is robust evidence to support this: reading for pleasure can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing, can build empathy in children and young people and is positively linked to better outcomes in later life.

The Mind Yourself reading guide is a resource that can be used by adults – parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers – to support and educate young people in relation to mental health and wellbeing. The guide contains reviews and recommendations of over 400 books for children and young people from birth to age eighteen and is designed as a ‘first-aid kit’ for worries, sadness, loneliness, anxiety and any number of feelings that a young person may want to explore. Mind Yourself also contains mental health and wellbeing information from Jigsaw and ISPCC Childline, including tips and coping strategies for young people and advice for adults on supporting children to build resilience. The guide is available free of charge through every library authority in the Republic of Ireland and a digital version of the Mind Yourself Reading Guide can be viewed or downloaded here. Should you wish to purchase a copy of #MindYourself please click here!

Tarsila Krüse, creator of the original Mind Yourself artwork, said:
When asked to create an image for the Children’s Books Ireland Reading Guide 2020 covering the theme of mindfulness amidst a global pandemic, I was, like many, inundated with emotions and feelings. Excitement, fear, happiness and anxiety all at the same time and I wanted that to show through my work. Being a book lover who finds solace, discovery, learning and growth in books I began drafting numerous ideas to express both looking inwards as well as outwards through a book, but none of them felt quite right. Then a sparkle of an idea struck my mind. I’m learning Irish and there’s a lovely curiosity in how feelings are expressed in the Irish language – a person doesn’t “have a feeling” but a “feeling is on” that person – it is something that exists outside the body, that comes and goes like the wind. That helped me develop the idea that WE ALL carry around feelings and emotions, and much like clouds they sometimes hang right above us. Some are fleeting and light, others are full of thunder and power, therefore I created plenty of those feelings and emotions clouds that we all have. I chose to create a non-gender specific character, a lovely dog who is carrying feelings around and processing all of its emotions with a book. That’s what I want everyone to know: books are an absolutely wonderful tool to understand and process our feelings, those curious clouds we carry around, so we can discover, explore, learn and grow inside and out.

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said:
Mind Yourself was born in a pandemic and is published during an unprecedented time as children and young people return to school following a period of isolation. We want to recognise the very valid feelings that may arise during this time and to provide support for adults who may need a way to start a difficult conversation with a younger person, perhaps by reading a story aloud with them, by leaving a book on their bed with a note or by giving them this guide with a book token to find their own way through it. As always, we want our guides to enable children and young people – with the help of a family member, carer, teacher or librarian – to find the right book for them at a particular time, and if they’re struggling, to tóg sos le scéal or lighten the load with a book.

Dr Joseph Duffy, CEO of Jigsaw, said:
In Jigsaw we offer a listening ear, give expert mental health advice and support to young people, parents and guardians, and schoolteachers – and do our best to be there when young people need us most. But we know that there is always so much more that can be done. More young people we can reach. And to do so we need to work together as communities, as partners, and as friends. Working together with Children’s Books Ireland on Mind Yourself – The Mental Health and Wellbeing Reading Guide is another creative way of doing this, of reaching and being there to support the mental health needs of even more young people across Ireland. We know from our Read Your Mind project the power of reading as therapy in supporting mental health and wellbeing. The power of stories and words in helping guide and support both adults and young people. So, we are really excited to be part of this fantastic project.

Caroline O’Sullivan, Director of Services for ISPCC Childline, said:
ISPCC Childline is delighted to be included in Children’s Books Ireland’s Mind Yourself – The Mental Health and Wellbeing Reading Guide and to provide guidance for children, young people and parents/carers on building resilience and looking after their mental health,’ said. ‘Reading is an important activity for children and young people, it can provide an escape and allows our minds to be creative which can help in boosting our moods. Childline receives over 1,000 contacts a day every day from children and young people across Ireland on childline.ie and our volunteers help make sure every child and young person in Ireland always has somewhere they can turn.

Children’s Books Ireland would like to thank each and every one of the 140 Mind Yourself reviewers, the 9 section editors, English language proof reader Emma Dunne, Irish language proof reader Shanna Ní Rabhartaigh, designer Fintan Wall, and illustrator Tarsila Krüse. Thanks also to the following advertisers for their support: Hachette Children’s Group, Michael O’Mara Books, The O’Brien Press, An Gúm, Nosy Crow, Gill Books, Walker Books, Butler Sims, Andersen Press, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, KPMG, and An Post.