Mindfulness books for children are a rampant editorial trend | Editing

Mindfulness books for children as young as two are the latest publishing trend, the industry says, with children themselves calling for more titles to help them make sense of their emotions .

Publishers including Magic Cat Publishing report that sales of books for children under 10 dealing with emotions and mental health issues have increased nearly 40% year-over-year since 2021.

Those titles now make up a quarter of Magic Cat’s publishing slate, said Kate Manning, its director of marketing and publicity. The success prompted the publisher to broaden the genre: it will soon announce a new list of titles for children over 10 years old.

“This is really a conscious decision in response to various recent reports on how Covid, climate change and now the cost of living have directly affected children and which has grown over time to become the heart of our post,” she said.

Manning also pointed to Ofsted’s annual report, which found that the social and emotional needs of even very young children had been negatively affected by the pandemic. The report also indicates that this generation is at higher risk of mental health problems than older age groups.

“We’ve always had a handful of books on the list that dealt with mindfulness, but it’s been a conscious decision recently to see how we can involve mindfulness practices to underpin many of the books we order.”

Nielsen Bookscan data on children’s books shows that so far this year there have been 18% more children’s titles published in the mental health and anxiety genre than at this time in 2021 – and 76% more than in 2019, before the pandemic.

But the increase isn’t, say publishers, driven by over-anxious parents: Nielsen’s Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer report found that more than 850,000 children under the age of 17 say they like self-help books , self-esteem and mental health.

Magic Cat is not alone: ​​HarperCollins has found its major new Mr Men Little Miss Discover You series, which explores emotions and well-being, to be such a success that it has ordered four new titles to be released in the spring .

In January, it will also extend the genre to older children with a new edition of Elizabeth Day’s bestseller Failosophy for children aged 12 and over.

MacMillan Children’s Publishing also launched a line of toddler books called Little Big Feelings, a series that now has eight titles. Each book contains advice from a parenting expert.

Laura Horsley, publishing director of Hachette Children’s nonfiction list, said: “There is a real appetite for these books, especially when written by authors with proven expertise. A Better Day: Your Positive Mental Health Handbook by Dr. Alex George is a recent example: it went straight to the top of the children’s nonfiction charts a few weeks ago. »

Bookstores also say they have seen an increase in the number of parents buying these books for very young children. Natasha Radford, co-owner of the Chicken and Frog bookshop in Essex, said it started during the pandemic. “But demand has remained high and has increased from preschoolers to young teens,” she said.

Annie Rhodes, from the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre, said: “We have certainly seen an increase in the amount and variety of books published on mindfulness and anxiety aimed at children by publishers.”

These range from board books for toddlers to guides for teenagers. “We are also being asked for recommendations from teachers on these topics as they have seen an increase in anxiety among their students and need resources to help guide and counsel children.”

Tamara Macfarlane, owner of award-winning children’s bookstore Tales on Moon Lane in Herne Hill, south-east London, said the increase in titles was much needed. “Until recently there was very little to offer,” she said. “The growth of books around children’s emotions has been a healthy reflection of this generation of publishers, booksellers, authors and illustrators, parents and teachers aware of the conversation and the importance of children’s emotional literacy.

Books to help young children manage their emotions

  • For readers ages 2 and up: Rachel Bright Collection, including The lion within and the return of the wolf

  • For readers ages 3 and up: Big and bright feelings Tom Percival series

  • For readers ages 4 and up: What if, pig by Linzie Hunter

  • For readers ages 5 and up: My Beautiful Voice, Joseph Coelho and Allison Colpoys

  • For readers aged 7 and over: The Forgotten Skills Handbook

  • For readers aged 8 and over: Slow down and be here now by Laura Marque

  • For readers 10 and up: Marcus Rashford with Carl Anka, You can do it and You are a champ

  • For readers aged 13 and over: 10 steps to change (new series written by psychoanalysts to be published in January)

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