Books for resilience and wellbeing

In partnership with the University of Reading and the Resilience Rucksack Project, the Book Festival team have created a book list for teenagers that explore resilience and wellbeing.

Together with young people, the team from the University of Reading have developed tools to use at home and school to support wellbeing. In the Resilience Rucksack initiative, young people transitioning from primary to secondary school will receive a Resilience Rucksack full of items that have been informed by research and consultation to give them the best start to navigate this new chapter, socially, physically and emotionally.

The Resilience Rucksack has been inspired by the baby box in Scotland and aims to give young people the opportunity to talk abut mental health and raise awareness. Join the series of Resilience Fairs in local schools and youth organisations, or come along to the Baillie Gifford Gala Day at the Book Festival in August to hear more!

Try out some of the wellbeing tools, from writing in a journal to listening to a Sleep Song, or start with a book from the list:

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya McGregor

Sam’s special interest is the cases of teenagers who died before they turned nineteen. When they move to a new town with their Dad, they know they’re going to have to navigate a new school, but they don’t expect to be thrown into a mystery they’ve studied for years. This queer contemporary YA mystery explores healing and the joy in living a full life.

Here I Stand: Stories That Speak for Freedom illustrated by Chris Riddell

The world is changing quickly, and it’s more important than ever to stand up for what you believe in. This inspiring and thought-provoking collection of short stories and poems is for teens with a conscience, looking at human rights issues facing young people today. A dynamic title exploring human rights and what it means to use compassion to speak for freedom, solidarity and activism.

Needle by Patrice Lawrence

A powerful exploration of a teenager’s journey through grief, rage and the harshness of the criminal justice system. Charlene adores knitting, but when her foster mum’s son destroys a blanket she’s knitting for her sister, Charlene loses her temper. From that incident unravels a story of the failures of foster care and the justice system, that’s full of compassion and empathy.

Proud complied by Juno Dawson

This powerful anthology of LGBTQ+ stories and poems compiled by Juno Dawson shares unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Sure to bring every emotion to the surface, from laughs and tears to relatable and unique experiences. The collection is told with real heart, with an uplifting, compassionate look to community.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

From the creator of the Heartstopper series (and now hit Netflix show!) comes the story of Tori Spring, Charlie’s sister. Tori is pessimistic and keeps mostly to herself, and is coping with undiagnosed depression. Then she meets Michael Holden, a young boy who is angry at everything and it feels like they are each exactly the person the other one needs. An original and relatable read for young people everywhere, handling family, identity and emotions with wit and heart.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Kiko has always found it hard to say what she means and how she really feels. Struggling with anxiety and believing in herself, Kiko keeps her head down and dreams of getting into art school. But when this doesn’t happen, Kiko finds a new path for herself, reconnecting with an old friend and taking a leap into the unknown despite her fear and anxiety telling her otherwise. This is a simultaneously heart-breaking and uplifting story of self-acceptance and understanding.

Want to find out more about the Resilience Rucksack?

Read about how the inspiration for the project, as well as the co-production workshops with young people and a full list of wellbeing tools on the University of Reading’s website.