1 February 2016

Children’s ‘mood boosting books’ scheme could be UK first

A new book reading scheme in Brighton & Hove is thought to be the first in the country to be created in conjunction with schoolchildren to help them feel happier.

The ‘Mood Boosting Books’ scheme, aimed at children aged 9-11 (years 4, 5 and 6), is based on a list of books that children have themselves said made them happy.

The project is being run by Brighton & Hove City Council’s public health and libraries teams. The list comes from a series of focus groups held with children from three schools in the city - Stanford Junior School, Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School, and Coombe Road Primary School.

Children asked their class mates ‘which books or stories cheer you up?’ and their answers to this question, along with titles put forward by health, education and library professionals, form the list.

Some of the books are simply fun stories, while others help children with issues such as bereavement, bullying or self-esteem.

The list includes not only household names such as JK Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Roald Dahl, but also works such as:

  • 'The Unforgotten Coat' by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • 'Fortunately the Milk' by Neil Gaiman
  • ​'Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot' by Dave Pilkey.

The books will be available to borrow from libraries across the city in paper format and in some cases as e-Books from the online collection. For every book children read they will be given a smiley mark on a special booklist being distributed through their schools.

All primary and junior schools in the city are being sent information packs with a copy of the book list for each child in years 4, 5 and 6. A launch event aimed at promoting the benefits of the scheme to teaching staff is being held at the Jubilee Library on Tuesday 2 February.

Stanford Juniors headteacher Paul Davis said: “Reading is a crucial skill and this is an exciting and innovative scheme so we very much wanted to be involved in it. It’s a great opportunity for our children to experience and really think about the power of the written word."

The council’s director of public health, Dr Tom Scanlon, said: “As far as we are aware this is the first scheme of its kind created with children for children.

“Many children find themselves having to deal with difficult things in their lives and reading about characters facing similar issues could make a big difference to how they feel in the face of these challenges.

“Reading for pleasure is proven to have an extremely positive impact on different aspects of children’s lives. This scheme is a great way to encourage children to discover books they love and to visit their local library."

The full list of Mood Boosting Books is as follows:

  • 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' by Jeff Kinney
  • 'Beast Quest' by Adam Blade
  • 'The Worry Website' by Jacqueline Wilson
  • 'Harry Potter' by JK Rowling
  • 'The Switch' by Antony Horowitz
  • 'The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas' by David Almond
  • 'Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief' by Rick Riordan
  • 'The Boy in the Dress' by David Walliams
  • 'Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot' by Dave Pilkey
  • 'Adventure Time' by Ryan North
  • 'Dragons at Crumbling Castle' byTerry Pratchett
  • 'Northern Lights' by Philip Pullman
  • 'The Suitcase Kid' by Jacqueline Wilson​
  • 'Ottoline Goes to School' by Chris Riddel
  • 'Fortunately the Milk' by Neil Gaiman
  • 'Journey to the River See' by Eva Ibbotson​
  • 'Alfie the Werewolf' by Paul Van Loch
  • 'Butterfly Lion' by Michael Morpurgo
  • 'Tom Gates' by Liz Pichon
  • 'Mr Gum' by Andy Stanton​
  • 'Dork Diaries' by Rachel Renee Russell
  • 'Driftwood' by Cathy Cassidy
  • 'The White Giraffe' by Lauren St John
  • 'Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder' by Jo Nesbo
  • 'Chronicles of Narnia' by C S Lewis​
  • 'Stig of the Dump' by Clive King
  • 'Horrible Histories' by Terry Deary
  • 'The Twits' by Roald Dahl
  • 'Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Graham
  • 'The Boy Who Lost His Face' by Louis Sacer​
  • 'Brightling' by Rebecca Lisle
  • 'El Deafo' (graphic novel) by Cece Bell
  • Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot Horatio Clare
  • 'Cowgirl' by G R Gemin
  • 'The Unforgotten Coat' by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • 'George' by Alex Gino
  • 'The Fastest Boy in the World' by Elizabeth Laird​
  • 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl
  • 'Emil and the Detectives' by Erich Kästner
  • 'The Secrets of Sam and Sam' by Susie Day.