We all need hope and comfort to maintain our mental health. If you are reading this, you are probably no stranger to the concept of comfort-reads and you know that children’s books are some of the most powerful comfort-reads there can possibly be. Picture books full of hope for adults as well as kids? Yes please.
If during times of pandemic and lockdown you and your child can disappear into the bubble a well-chosen book can provide, you might be setting yourselves up with a tool for coping with tough times that can be used well into the future. Maybe you have found yourself reaching for a book as a form of comfort or escape lately. Odds are you built the habit long ago. Now is a great time to help someone else build or reignite this skill.
Even if you can’t physically be together, the gift of a book can go some way towards sharing hope and comfort.
In my house we have been sending favourite comfort picture books interstate and overseas for months. At first, we were only sending them to the kids, but lately we have been sending them to the adults too. After all, a skilfully crafted picture book is something that adults can appreciate as much as children can. Also, if you find yourself in a state of overwhelm, the gentle accessibility and the artistic beauty of a picture book might be easier to cope with than a novel or work of non-fiction.
You probably have your own favourite picture book ‘comfort-reads’, but if you want some suggestions of some wonderful books written about hope and comfort, we have a list for you. These books have been carefully chosen to remind us that we can make it through tough times so even though some of them deal with big themes, they all remind us how to hope.
Picture Story Books for All Ages
The Red Tree by Shaun Tan
A child navigates a world that is full of feelings that threaten to overwhelm her until she finds comfort in her red tree.
Don’t Forget by Jane Godwin & Anna Walker
Remembering what really matters.
Under the Love Umbrella by Davina Bell & Allison Colpoys
Love and comfort can come from people even when you are far apart.
How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham
When a bird breaks its wing flying into a window in a busy city, one child notices and nurses it back to health.
Drawn Onward: A back to Front to Back Tale of Hopelessness and Hope by Meg McKinlay & Andrew Frazer
A palindromic story that changes meaning when you reach the middle and flip the words leading the reader to think about the relationship of hope and hopelessness.
Smile/Cry: Happy or Sad, Wailing or Glad – How Do You Feel Today by Tania McCartney & Jess Raklyeft
Another palindromic story that explores the relationship and complexity of smiles and tears.
Trying by Kobi Yamada & Elise Hurst
Failure is just the beginning of the journey.
Blanket: Journey to extreme coziness by Loren Brantz
Making your blanket into a snuggly cocoon before you come out and face the world.
Forever by Beatrice Alemagna
Things change, but one thing lasts forever.
Being Edie is Hard Today by Ben Brashares & Elizabeth Bergeland
Being yourself even when you are sad. A new day is always coming so you can try again tomorrow.
After the Fall by Dan Santat
After Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall he had to learn how to cope with his new fear of falling.
Don’t Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton
Accepting the help of others in order to overcome your fears and worries.
Bird by Beatriz Martin Vidal
Wordless picture book. A child launches herself into life
Pandora by Victoria Turnbull
Pandora creates a world from the things she finds and finds the strength to rebuild when things go wrong.
Ergo by Alexis Deacon & Viviane Schwarz
A story for philosophers about discovering the world and yourself.
Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Prasadam-Halls & David Litchfield
Good times follow bad.
Under the Same Sky by Britta Teckentrup
Peek-through picture book about connectedness
Longer Books and Graphic Novels
If you fancy something longer to share as a read aloud or read quietly in your cocoon you could try the following suggestions.
The Shop at Hoopers Bend by Emily Rodda
A low-tension story about finding your place when you feel disconnected from the people who love you.
The Book for Happy Hearts by Maggie Hutchings & Jess Racklyeft
Treasury of stories, poems and activities.
The Book of Hopes by Katherine Rundell ed
Short stories full of hope and possibilities. Includes contributions by Australians such as Zana Fraillon and Jessica Townsend
The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer
A book truly for all ages about overcoming fear as you work towards happiness.
Winnie the Pooh by A. A Milne
Comforting and philosophical, one of the foundational children’s texts about hope and community.
Finn Family Momintroll by Tove Jansson
Delightful nonsense from Finland. Classic literature in the same vein as Winnie the Pooh.
The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams
Hope that you can be accepted for all of who you are especially when you are surrounded by people who support you.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
A graphic novel about finding the support to achieve impossible dreams.
~ Gisela Ervin-Ward teaches children with learning difficulties how to read and provides literacy consulting to schools @podliteracy. She is obsessed with children’s books and writing and muses about them at @giselaervinward. www.giselaervinward.com