New children's book highlights importance of talking about feelings

A book about a chameleon called Conker, aimed at helping young children talk about their feelings, is being published to coincide with Children’s Mental Health Week (February 1-7).

Monday, 1st February 2021, 1:00 pm
Hannah Peckham and son Bodhi
Hannah Peckham and son Bodhi

It comes from Hannah Peckham who lives in Ditchling.

As Hannah explains: “Conker is a chameleon that – unlike other chameleons – can’t change colour to express his feelings. This makes him sad and creates problems for him, but Conker is a determined little chap and comes up with a brilliant idea to fit in so the other chameleons can tell how he is feeling.

“On his journey, he realises that being unique isn’t always a bad thing and that discussing his feelings has helped him feel better and led to self-acceptance. ‘It’s pretty awesome being me,’ concludes Conker.”

Hannah, aged 40, is a young people’s counsellor with a two-year-old son.

“My key priority when writing the book was to shine a light on children’s mental wellbeing. As my son started to grow, I found myself questioning why talking to children about keeping their body healthy is encouraged and praised, but talking about mental health to them is not. How can we expect children to develop emotional literacy, which is vital to their future wellbeing, if we can’t teach them how important this is?’

TV presenter Holly Willoughby of ITV’s This Morning, who has three children, has endorsed the book. “Conker the chameleon has a lot to teach us as he goes on his adventure,” she says.

“We learn along with him about how important it is to talk about our feelings.

“It’s never too early to encourage your children to do the same, and reading this story is the perfect way to open the conversation with your little ones so that they will feel safe and confident to always say how they are feeling. These are such important life skills your child will carry with them throughout their life.”

Illustrated by Stephanie Jayne, Conker the Chameleon is designed to be read aloud by a parent and gently reinforces the key messages of self-acceptance and emotional literacy, Hannah says: “At the back of the book are some exercises for children and parents to do together, aimed at opening up conversations around coping strategies and how children see themselves.”

Conker the Chameleon can be pre-ordered on Amazon, price £6.99.

“It has been such a tough year for so many. Even before lockdown children’s mental health was in crisis with the worrying statistic of on average three children in every primary school class suffering with mental health problems.

“I believe now more than ever we need to be gently blueprinting key messages of self-acceptance and emotional literacy. Conker the chameleon allows the reader to open up lines of conversation and safely explore and express emotions.

“It blueprints valuable lessons such as talking about feelings, understanding others’ feelings, resolving conflict and encourages listening. These are important messages that are never too early to start reflecting to our children.”