Mind Hug by Emily Arber and Vanessa Lovegrove, published by Circus House Publishing is an innovative picture book that introduces children to mindfulness.
In this story we meet Jack who is feeling “fizzy”. His head is so busy with thoughts that he can’t keep up. More and more thoughts come into his head until eventually it gets too loud in there. Jack is comforted by his Dad who introduces him to a new game to help control his thoughts and make his mind less busy, a Mind Hug.
What follows is an excellent description of how Jack uses mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing to help calm him down. Once Jack has finished he feels much calmer and we love the descriptions of how his perceptions of the world around him have changed to be more positive.
Jack even goes on to tell his friend Sarah about the Mind Hug game when he sees she is struggling who then expands it to focusing her thoughts on what her body feels like and how that is changing as she takes deep breaths.
This is a lovely gentle story with colourful and calm illustrations. The child-centred descriptions of how the children are feeling are perfectly pitched and are supported by illustrations which may be more helpful for some to describe or understand a feeling.
It’s great to see a boy and his dad represented in this story as a recent survey has shown that men are less likely to ask for help or talk about problems with their mental health than women. Images in picture books are powerful and normalising two males supporting each other in their mental health is excellent.
Informative without being directive, this book is a useful tool for children who struggle to deal with their emotions and thoughts. It is also a lovely story to share and help build empathy and understanding of how other people may be feeling.
Statistics from the Mental Health Foundation tell us that:
10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.
Not only will Mind Hug equip children with the tools to recognise and manage their emotions but by highlighting it in a picture book it removes the stigma and will hopefully give them the confidence to speak out and seek help if they need it.
Mind Hug has been written in consultation with psychotherapist Sarah Gibbs BABCP, Dr Sarah Temple and Dr Janet Rose who have advised on the content and language used throughout the creative process. The technique of feeling your fingers on your belly which Jack’s friend Sarah uses is a direct recommendation from the training Dr Temple uses with children.
There is a great online guide about introducing mindfulness to children which has also been created following advice and guidance from Dr Temple and Sarah Gibbs, it is free to download from the Circus House website.
Part of every sale of Mind Hug goes towards Place2Be, the UK’s leading charity for children’s mental health.
Many thanks to Circus House for sending a copy of this book for review.