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5 Thoughtful Books for Curious Young Readers

It’s never too early to introduce little ones to big ideas like mental health, diversity and equality. Though they’re weighty topics, this selection of talented Irish authors has managed to make them completely accessible, using language and design kids will both understand and adore. So, whether your child is two or ten, there’s a thought-provoking book for them! Here’s the best of the bunch, as recommended by our friends at Children’s Books Ireland.

Being Brave

Aimed at younger kids aged 2-5, Don’t Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton [Walker Books Ltd] is a charming board book exploring the fears we all experience around trying new things. Very Big Crab and Little Crab are about to venture from their safe little rockpool into the wide, open sea. But Little Crab spots the crashing waves and is suddenly afraid. Will he find the courage to go in?

Equality & Inclusivity

There are also some fantastic Irish books that will help teach children about the importance of celebrating difference, rather than hiding it. Activist SinĂ©ad Burke wrote Break the Mould [Hachette Children’s Books] for exactly that reason. Often, it can feel like the world just isn’t built for us, and that we don’t belong. This gorgeous book encourages young people aged 8+ to feel comfortable in their own skin. Beautifully illustrated by Natalie Byrne, it’s no surprise that Break the Mould won Children’s Book of the Year (Junior category) in last year’s An Post Irish Book Awards. Meg Grehan’s The Deepest Breath [Little Island Books, 10+] is equally poignant. It follows 11-year-old Stevie, as she struggles to understand her feelings for a girl at school. With the help of a librarian, she discovers stories about women who love women, and gradually builds up the courage to tell her mum how she feels.

Mental Health

Mental health awareness is thankfully something that’s become more openly discussed in recent years. These two books will help children understand that it’s ok not to feel ok. For little ones aged 5+, Anna Liza & the Happy Practice [Barrington Stoke Ltd] is all about a little girl who tries to cheer up her mum’s psychiatric patients. But she’s not sure how to connect with Edward. Written by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Matt Robertson, this is a great introduction for little ones to mental health issues. In a similar vein – but for older kids aged 9-12 - is Brilliant, by iconic Irish scribe, Roddy Doyle (illustration by Chris Judge, Macmillan Children’s Books). In his distinctive Dublin style, Roddy tells the story of Gloria and Rayzer, who overhear their granny say that the ‘black dog’ has got their Uncle Ben. So, they set off on a mission to confront it.

What other Irish books have you found useful in teaching your children important life lessons? Let us know online, using #ReadersWanted. Looking for more inspiration? Check out 5 of the Best Adventure Books for Children.

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