Reading Well to support mental health

Annie Robinson is Programme Manager, Reading and Health for the Reading Agency. Here, she shares recommended books for grief and bereavement.

By Annie Robinson · March 4, 2021

Reading has always had the power to offer comfort, solace, and advice when we need it most. At The Reading Agency, we know that reading can also offer support when someone dies. That is why we work with public libraries to deliver Reading Well, a national programme of recommended reading that helps people to understand and manage their wellbeing, and deal with difficult feelings and experiences.

Reading Well book collections offer information, advice and stories that are recommended by health experts, as well as people with lived experience of the topics covered and their relatives and carers.

The booklists include everything from graphic novels and non-fiction to novels and poetry to ensure there is something for everyone. Reading Well books are available for all ages and are free to borrow from libraries; you could be recommended a book by a GP, teacher, or carer, or you could choose a book from the collections you think might be helpful.

Over 2.6 million Reading Well books have been borrowed from local public libraries and 91% of people surveyed found their book helpful.

Reading to help cope with grief

There are several books in the Reading Well collections that can lend a hand in helping to understand and cope with grief, for yourself or those around you. Try one of the titles this World Book Day or visit our website to mind more inspiration for what to read next.

Recommended books for grief and bereavement

Hear stories from those who have experienced great loss – and survived. Julia Samuel, a grief psychotherapist, has spent twenty-five years working with the bereaved and understanding the full repercussions of loss.

Through elegant, moving stories, we learn how we can stop feeling awkward and uncertain about death, and talk honestly with family and friends.

“I bought this book just a week after my father passed away. It helped me to accept what happened faster, I’m still in the process of recovering, but at least thanks to this book and plenty of meditation I’m managing better than expected.”

You can borrow Grief Works from your library and find in Reading Well for mental health

In Mum’s Jumper Jayde tells the story of a little girl who loses her mum and has to learn how to keep going. Although her dad is there to support and comfort her, she’s feeling very lonely – and angry. Through adopting her mum’s jumper, she discovers that grief is something she will learn not just to live with, but to grow with, and that there can be a way to feel hope for the future whilst living with loss.

This children’s book is a beautifully illustrated, heartfelt, and ultimately uplifting book for anyone coping with loss.

“I was very moved by this book. I was teary but relieved that the feelings of grief were so explicit and accessible to all! I am a Primary School teacher, and it will be featuring in my classroom. I aim to teach children about empathy and mental health. This book is PERFECT!”  

You can borrow Mum’s Jumper from your library and find in Reading Well for children

This self-help guide offers an examination and explanation of the grieving process and outlines clinically-proven strategies, based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), to help you adjust to life without a loved one.

“There was so much advice in the book that I now feel like I can go away and use that advice to cope better. There were also many activities for you to do yourself which can help the process of grief.”

You can borrow An Introduction to Coping with Grief from your library and find in Reading Well for mental health

A moving, lyrical picture book about a young girl’s love for her granddad and how she copes when he dies, written by poet and playwright Joseph Coelho.

This powerful and uplifting text is the ideal way to introduce children to the concept of death, particularly children who have lost a grandparent.

“Great for children dealing with bereavement, but also just a beautiful story to share with the little ones that you love.”  

You can borrow If All the World Were… from your library and find in Reading Well for children

You can browse the full Reading Well book collections online or visit your library website to borrow a book today.

The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We work closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds; our vision is for a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life. We help 1.8 million people benefit from reading every year, through our programmes, our tireless campaigning, our excellent networks, and our power to influence, challenge and make change happen.