World Book Day – Celebrating books, therapeutic stories to support mental health and empower children as readers.

Books and stories have, for centuries, given children access to real and imaginary worlds, a chance to discover elements of themselves through different characters and opportunities to fantasise, create their own magical worlds, escape into new experiences and inspire their imagination and play.

Despite the focus on every child being a reader, the number of households that have books is in decline with ‘nearly 400,000 children in the UK who don’t have books at home.’¹

On World Book Day, the focus is on welcoming all children, especially those who may be disadvantaged, to the world of books by helping them to become book owners, many for the first time, and by supporting children with reading activities and experiences to help them to become lifelong readers.

Enabling children to have access to and enjoy the delights books can bring is important. On becoming a book owner, the National literacy trust recorded one child saying “I just want to treasure it because I never get things that are new.”²

Through reading, listening to, and telling stories, children can experience their own world through a whole range of different characters, allowing them to empathise, relate to and identify with situations and feelings that others may have and enabling them to reflect and grow emotionally themselves.

Books are an incredibly powerful part of children’s social and emotional development, giving them access to knowledge, imagination, emotional literacy and self-awareness.

Research from the National Literacy Trust has shown us that children and young people who like to read are three times more likely to have better mental health than those who don’t.⁴

As well as the joy and delight books can bring, they can also offer therapeutic opportunities for children to safely explore, with a trusted, empathic adult, more difficult or uncomfortable experiences and feelings. Therapeutic stories can have a powerful role in supporting children who may have experienced loss, trauma, or difficult life circumstances and can help them to feel heard, understood, and able to express themselves through a more “… natural language of feeling … that of image, metaphor, as in stories and dreams.” says Dr Margot Sunderland.

“A therapeutic story can enable a child to see, hear, know and feel more clearly, by providing a deeper truth and empathy than is possible through literal words. In so doing, it can bring hope to a child that ‘I can be understood. It is worth telling someone about my feelings. At last, I’ve got through.”³

By using therapeutic stories, we can give children opportunities to grow, to become who they are, and to support their emotional wellbeing and mental health so that they can reach their own potential. Encouraging children to read and enjoy books, inspiring a love of books, and creating a culture where children become storytellers and readers for themselves, opens opportunities to a richer and more diverse world and one that we can help them to celebrate.

World Book Day Reading Helps Mental Health

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