Dealing with the Ups and Downs of Life with Literature

Home » Dealing with the Ups and Downs of Life with Literature

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you will know that I am a huge fan of books which deal with big issues for young people such as grief, serious illness, allergies, adoption, diversity in family life and books such as Sally Murphy’s ‘set’ of three verse novels here, which are suitable from 7-12 years and deal with dementia, childhood cancer and a mother who has had a serious accident – these verse novels are some of the most gorgeous books I’ve read ever (hyperlinks take you to my recommended books on these topics).

Young people need to see their lives reflected in literature – to know they are not alone and to know they are understood. Books which deal with ‘issues’ give children the vocabulary to help them articulate their feelings and the strategies to deal with tough situations. Books which deal with the heavier topics in life help our young people to develop empathy and understanding for others – giving them the opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone else.

'Love is Like a Tree'

‘Love is Like a Tree’

Friendship is like a seesaw inside image

‘Friendship is Like a Seesaw’

Families are Like a Cake inside image

‘A Family is Like a Cake’

One series that I think pulls no punches with dealing with the ‘issues’ that face our young people is, ‘A Big Hug Books’ which now has six titles: ‘A Family is Like a Cake‘; ‘Love is Like a Tree‘;  ‘The Internet is Like a Puddle’; ‘The Playground is Like the Jungle’; ‘Life is Like the Wind’ and ‘Friendship is Like a Seesaw’. The language in each of the books is spot on and the stories are engaging and appealing to young children in the early childhood age range and lower levels of primary school. The illustrations by Irisz Agocs are full of movement and light and help to keep the heavy subject matter at an age appropriate level.

Author, Shona Innes, is a clinical and forensic psychologist with a passion for helping children and their parents, carers and teachers. I asked her recently what her one wish for the world would be and she responded with, “I think my biggest wish…would be for children to have a healthy childhood free of abuse or trauma”. See more of my interview here.

I’d love to see this set of well-priced books ($12.50) on the shelves of every home and every library. As a ‘set’ they deal with so many issues pertinent to our young people and also to ourselves. The words soothe, educate and reassure the reader and they can, and should, be read time and time again over many years. More about each book is below.big-hug-book-a-family-is-like-a-cake

‘A Family is Like a Cake’

Cakes are made from many different ingredients to create something unique, delicious and amazing. A family is a lot like a cake. Families come in all shapes and sizes. They are the people who help us feel that we belong. Families give us help, support and love… even when we are apart from them. When we are with our family, we feel like we are home.

‘Love is Like a Tree’

Love is a special and growing thing. It’s a little bit like a tree – a special magical tree – that you can climb up into, nest comfortably in its big branches, and safely watch the world go by. Love can come in different shapes and sizes. Like a tree, love can grow and grow..


‘The Internet is Like a Puddle’

The Internet is Like a Puddle attends to the wonderful aspects of electronic communication as well as gently discusses some of the possible pitfalls of sharing, chatting and using data. There is a need to be mindful of those who are naive to the potential problems without denying them the wonderful opportunities. The Internet is Like a Puddle describes ways to stay safe and enjoy learning and chatting time on the Internet and to keep life balanced.


‘The Playground is Like the Jungle’

The Playground is like the Jungle was written with a view to opening young minds to the rich variety of human personalities that exist in their world.  Readers are encouraged to take time to observe the behaviours and moods of others and to make wise and safer choices about play mates. The strategies promoted encourage tolerance and acceptance of interpersonal different and wise choices with respect to interpersonal safety.


‘Friendship is Like a Seesaw’

Friendship is Like a Seesaw explores the ups and downs that occur in friendships, or indeed, in many other kinds of relationships. This book acknowledges that even the healthiest of friendships can have their tricky moments.


‘Life is Like the Wind’

Life is like the Wind focuses on the complexities around death, loss and grief.  It acknowledges the range of feelings associated with losing a loved one whether human or non-human. This book aims to help children not to be frightened of their reactions, but to explore their beliefs, acknowledge that others may have different ideas and then work out the ways they want to acknowledge their loss and their feelings.

Big Hug Series

Today I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT

Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

Check out my mini ebook, 'What to Read Next' or sign up for my FREE webinar, '3 Tips to Start the Best Book Club Ever'.

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  1. Emily on Oct 13, 2015 at 10:18 am

    I’d not heard of this series. Thank you so much. I think often we only introduce children to these books and concepts when they’re being affected by something directly. But my daughter’s friend’s mum has recently been diagnosed with cancer, and I’d like to talk to my daughter about it so she can understand what her friend is going through. And the internet, GAH. So scary. The puddle book looks great. Thanks for sharing.

    • Megan Daley on Oct 13, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Yes Emily I couldn’t agree more…we’ve been through some pretty rough times in the last few years (to say the least) and these books have been BRILLIANT. I think they are books for ALL times! I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s friends mum – it’s a tough one and a long journey. I’ve just updated the post – the pictures would have been all wonky when you looked at it!!!

  2. Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers on Oct 13, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    These are great books. We have recently moved interstate and I think the friendship book would be helpful too. Am going to share this post. x

    • Megan Daley on Oct 13, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Yes the friendship one is ace! I hope the move has gone well – I’m loving your Instagram…don’t remember how I stumbled across you, but glad that I did!!!

  3. Maxabella on Oct 13, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    The Playground is Like The Jungle is the best book ever. I love it that much. I don’t know why I’ve never thought to get more books in the series. Duh! x

    • Megan Daley on Oct 13, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      It’s great that one huh? I gave Eden Riley the two new ones to read to my four year old recently for bedtime books and she came out of the room in tears…opps! Sorry Eden! They really are lovely!

  4. Toni @ Finding Myself Young on Oct 14, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I love the idea of using books to explain big concepts to children. I’m definitely going to be doing it with my daughter. I love this set will put it on my list of ones to get when she’s a bit older. #teamIBOT

  5. Fiona on Oct 15, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    I’ve seen the friendship one on the shelf in my local bookshop but not realised its a series… I work with preschool children – so maybe Ill have to buy them for me 🙂

  6. EssentaillyJess on Oct 16, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    They look like beautiful books. I love stories with a meaning. They are my favourite kind.

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