Books Can Offer Comfort and Hope in Tough Times

Over the last year many of us have faced challenges, uncertainty, and grief like we may have never experienced before. Many of us may have also found new interests, returned to passions long forgotten, increased connection with family and turned inward towards mindfulness and inner peace. Some of us may have found our way to books and reading as a comfort, a source of hope, a vessel of adventure.  

Books are powerful messengers in stressful times and have a positive impact on emotional well-being. As a school we have a commitment to well-being and as noted in our Definition of Learning, we believe that learning is emotional. We believe that “attitudes and values play an important role in learning and enhancing motivation.” (Mahindra International School)

In various studies, reading has been shown to decrease stress, reduce feelings of loneliness, provide connection, and make us stronger when faced with setbacks. (Billington) An article in Psychologies magazine points to research from Dr. Shira Gabriel indicating that “Books provide the opportunity for social connection and the blissful calm that comes from becoming a part of something larger than oneself.” (Roff)

Our IB Learning Profile attributes note “balance” as something we strive for:

As IB learners we strive to:

  • Balance different aspects of our lives – intellectual, physical, and emotional
  • Create well-being for ourselves and others
  • Recognize our interdependence with other people and the world in which we all live.

We see reading as a habit that can connect to so many of our learner profile attributes and believe that becoming more balanced is one of them. I hope that you have found comfort in stories over the past year and that you continue to. Learners in P3, P4, and P5 shared some of the books that have given them hope and comfort over the last year. Their selections can be seen below along with a few quotes about why they chose the book that they did.

(Insert word cloud image of Titles)

“The book that gives me comfort is Harry Potter, because no matter how many difficulties he faces, he always overcomes them” – Anaya, P4

“The book that gave me comfort is one of my cookbooks. Cooking is the best way of calming down. “ – Chloe, P4

“The Lost Rainforest made me think of fun, adventure, and mystery” – Andrea, P5

“Roald Dahl books make me happy because I like the style of his writing” – Zayan, P5

“Dog Man gave me hope because I think he’s gonna save everyone” – Orlando, P3

‘a Ilha do Vovó’ because it gave me comfort as I haven’t seen my grandpa in a while.” – Davi, P3

“The book I read last year that gave me hope and comfort was The Boy, The Mole, The fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. This book taught me about gratitude, and it told me that I am special and loved.” – Saanika, P3

Below I suggest several books that connect to reading as a practice for well-being. You may wonder why I have chosen only picture books. I believe that picture books are powerful storytellers that are accessible and engaging for readers of all ages. Picture books are also wonderful to share as a family or with a friend. I have noted, with a star, books that are available in our Sora library or on Epic.

Taking Comfort in Outdoors and Nature

            If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall*

            Outside In by Deborah Underwood*

            The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng*

Mindfulness and Being Present in the Here and Now

            I am Peace by Susan Verde*

            On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alamagna

            Finding Om by Rashmi S. Bismark

Family and Intergenerational Relationships

            When I found Grandma by Saumiya Balasubramaniam

            Drawn Together by Minh Le

            Ojiichan’s Gift by Chieri Uegaki*

Dreams, Hopes, and Wishes

            Windows by Patrick Guest

            What We’ll Build: Plans for our Future Together by Oliver Jeffers*

            I wish you more by Amy Krouse Rosenthal*

Joy, Pride, and Identity

            Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho*

            Magnificent Homespun Brown by Samara Cole Doyon*

            Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow*

By Elizabeth Cominole, Information Architect & Learning Specialist

Works Cited

Billington, Josie. “Can Reading Improve Your Wellbeing?” World Economic Forum, 13 Feb. 2015, www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/02/can-reading-improve-your-wellbeing/. Accessed 17 Mar. 2021.

Mahindra International School. “Our Definition of Learning.” Mahindra International School, 27 Aug. 2019, misp.org/discover/our-definition-of-learning/#:~:text=Mahindra%20International%20School%20defines%20learning,improved%20performance%20and%20future%20learning%E2%80%9D. Accessed 7 Apr. 2021.

Roff, Ali. “The Appeal of Comfort Reading.” Psychologies, 3 Mar. 2016, www.psychologies.co.uk/appeal-comfort-reading. Accessed 17 Mar. 2021.

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