Books for wellbeing

From exploring emotions to managing anxiety, Sydney Catholic Schools staff share their picks of great books to help young people of all ages read their way to wellbeing.


scs_7658The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires (Lower & Middle Primary)

“About an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. ‘She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing!’ She knows just how it will look and work. All she has to do is make it (she makes things all the time so it should be easy). But making it is anything but easy, and she tries and fails, repeatedly. She gets really, really mad and quits. Her dog convinces her to take a walk and she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and gets it just right.

This is a great book as it is a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. It deals with frustration and anger and the story offers good options for dealing with these feelings, while also reassuring children it’s okay to make mistakes.”

When I’m feeling … by Trace Moroney (Lower Primary)

“The When I’m Feeling series includes books exploring a range of emotions – angry, jealous, kind, scared, lonely and loved. They are good resources to introduce children to emotions and strategies to express our feelings in ways that are appropriate and acceptable to ourselves and others.”


The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (Middle & Upper Primary)

“’There was once a tree… and she loved a little boy. Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk… and the tree was happy to give. But as the boy grew older he began to want more and more from the tree, and the tree was happy to give.’ This story deals with unconditional love (giving) – the tree, and selfishness (taking) – the boy.”


Whoever You Are by Mem Fox (Lower & Middle Primary)

“This book is a celebration of the world’s diverse cultures, our similarities and differences. The author’s message is ‘no matter where we come from, our joys, love, pain and hopes are the same’.”

  • All Primary reviews by Grace Marsh, Teacher Librarian, St Jerome’s Catholic Primary Punchbowl



My Anxious Mind: A teen’s guide to managing anxiety and panic by Michael Tompkins & Katherine Martinez

“Published by the American Psychological Association’s Magination Press, My Anxious Mind contains easy to understand information and practical, straightforward steps anyone can take to reduce anxiety. It outlines a simple and proven plan to help teenagers understand and deal with anxiety and panic. It is full of simple to use tools and strategies that fit easily into any teen’s busy routine.

The strategies discussed are firmly grounded in the latest research on treating anxiety. Parents and teachers could read it too.”

  • Natalie Green, Counsellor, St Clare’s College Waverley


The Cut Out by Jack Heath (ages 13 – 16)

“Renowned Sydney born author Jack Heath is out to enthuse reluctant readers everywhere with his recent fast paced novel The Cut Out. This exciting story unfolds when young teenager Fero’s life is thrown into chaos as he’s mistaken for a “ruthless young spy”. But Fero soon relishes the role and before he knows it he’s deep within a real world of espionage, action and mystery.

“A fantastic book for 13-16 year olds, that probes mindsets passed down from past generations. We need to be careful not to rely on the opinions of others, but to experience life and judge for ourselves.”

Escape From Rome by Caroline Lawrence (ages 9 – 14)

“Caroline Lawrence appeals to many young readers with a love of history featuring in her stories. Escape from Rome is the first book in a new series Roman Quests set in Britain AD 94. Young Juba has a task, a quest and a destiny. He cleverly guides his three siblings, desperate for refuge, away from the cruel and oppressive regime of the day. This story suitable for 9-14 year olds, cleverly winds it way through many adventures and misfortunes as the children meet unlikely allies on their journey to seek a new life.

“This marvellous historical fiction novel reveals the parallels faced today by refugees who seek peace and safety in our country from persecution in lands afar, re-affirming our need to support those in need.”

  • Christina Marshall, Library Assistant, De La Salle College Ashfield

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