Over the next few weeks I will be showcasing books written specifically to help children understand feelings, emotions and the ever changing world around them.
I find picture books are a wonderful go to if a child is frightened or overwhelmed over something they don't understand. Often written in a peaceful way with simple words they help children unravel feelings on their own level.
The first book I have to bring to you is:
My Daddy is Different is a beautiful story, written to nurture any child who may have a loved adult in their life who is suffering from mental illness.
The story is told in the first person by a young boy as he notices a change in his father, as he sinks into a state of depression, and this confuses him and makes him afraid.
The story explains the highs and lows of a person with a mental illness as our narrator feels happy and safe when old daddy is back but confused when he withdraws again. Hospital stays are explained and the natural response of a child not wanting to go because it is strange and scary. He expresses his feelings of being afraid and worried that none of his friends would understand.
The emotional illustrations compliment the story with lots of sad faces and dark clouds when daddy is withdrawn and non-respondent but the pages are also interspersed with happy days and big smiles.
In the hospital he sees other children and realises he is not alone. There are other kids whose mummy or daddy had a mental illness too.
"Daddy looked at me and said, Remember I still love you. That will never change."
Filled with positive reinforcement I feel this book will be a valuable resource for anyone looking to explain mental illness to children.Somethings I would have liked included in the story were:
- Words of encouragement and love from the boys mother.
- Acknowledgement that his friends would still be there for him.
- That it wasn't anything he did that made his father change.
Children of Parents with a Mental Illness
About the authorSuzi is a qualified teacher, wife, full-time mother to an energetic and book-loving toddler, and a budding picture book writer.
She has a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and a Diploma of Education in Early Childhood Studies, hav
Suzi is making her writing debut with her picture book, ‘My Daddy is Different’. Her father suffers from a mental illness, and this had a huge impact on her childhood. Her experiences inspire her writing, and she hopes that with this story, she can help children who are struggling with similar issues. She also has an interest in fostering children’s self-esteem, and hopes that her writing journey will offer opportunities to fulfil this.
Living in the coastal city of Bunbury, Western Australia, Suzi enjoys being close to the beach. With a toddler who is asserting her independence and two little dogs with big attitudes, life is busy, but in quiet moments, Suzi likes to read, write, play volleyball and tennis, and dream of the ever-elusive sleep in.
She studied graphic design at Swinburne and has been a freelance illustrator since graduation.
Lisa enjoys working in dry pastel for it’s light, soft texture and the colourful mess she can make. She also uses pencils and acrylic paints. With these she loves to create and draw characters and their worlds, whether real or imagined.
Her favourite things in life inspire her illustrations. She is cat crazy and has two cheeky Devon Rexes called Coco and Elsa. She loves riding her bike especially long distances and up mountains. She also has a thing for striped clothing and often her characters are wearing something stripey just as she does. Oh, and she loves making and eating pancakes.