For children facing the potentially daunting move from primary to secondary school, we’ve come up with a list of three books all about emotions. The titles have been selected with seven to eleven-year-olds in mind and we’ve included suggestions for talking points after reading each one.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
This classic storybook is the perfect vehicle to explore the idea of giving in to your “wild side”. In the book, Max is wreaking havoc at home and is sent to bed without any food. He then sets sail in his imagination to the land of the wild things, where he tames them and becomes their king. Eventually he is drawn back by the need for love and security and returns home to find his supper “still hot”.
- Talk about the way Sendak portrays the “wild things” as monsters in the book. What is he saying about the uncontrolled side of our personalities? Discuss the need to balance a certain amount of freedom with the need for stability and routine.
- As a craft activity you could suggest that they draw a picture of their own “wild things” – how do they image they would look?
- They could also write a sequel to the story. What would happen the next time Max visits the land of the wild things? Would they still be terrible and how would he deal with them?
Gorilla by Anthony Browne
This is another classic story which deals with emotions. Hannah is a lonely little girl who feels neglected by her father. She loves gorillas and one night something magical happens; her toy gorilla comes to life and takes her on an adventure. The book is full of poignant illustrations for discussion and an ending that suggests a happier future for Hannah and her father.
This is a fabulously detailed book and useful for talking about the difficulties which sometimes arise in family situations.
- Ask the child what objects or toys they use to help them when they feel a bit lonely and neglected.
- What do they think about the journey Hannah goes on in the book? Ask them to write their own short story about an adventure they’d like to go on if their favourite object could come to life.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch
We highly recommend this book to help begin a discussion on believing in yourself and not being put off by the negative reactions of others. Grace has a vivid imagination and loves acting out stories. She wants to play the part of Peter Pan in the school play but someone tells her that she can’t because she’s a black girl, which makes her sad. However, with the support of her family Grace learns to believe in herself and fulfils her dreams.
- The book is a gentle look at discrimination and how to overcome it. Talk about the way Grace’s imagination helps her in the story.
- You could also discuss the way her Grandmother helps her to realise her potential. Would an angry response to the discrimination have helped Grace in the same way?
- Use the book to stimulate play-acting activities, encouraging them to dress up as their favourite character and act out part of a story.
All these books can be borrowed free of charge for three months via our postal library. Reserve them online with your reader code and PIN or ring 01635 299771 to speak to our library team.