Saturday 7 May 2016

Books on Prescription

Essex libraries  shelf help

Books on Prescription - The Reading Agency

'Kite Spirit' (Macmillan Children's Books)

'An outstandingly beautiful story about a girl coping with her friend’s death. 'Sita Brahmachari’s haunting novel set amidst the rugged beauty of the Lake District is perfectly pitched and written with the utmost sensitivity and truly uplifting charm, this is a book to read and treasure, to gain wisdom and understanding, and to comfort and console. Kite Spirit is a masterclass in wise and sympathetic storytelling and a superbly constructed lesson in the joys of friendship, the human heart’s ability to heal itself and the importance of acceptance and renewal. A moving and unmissable treat for both teens and adults
Pam Norfolk - Lancashire Evening Post

Books on Prescription scheme
I was so happy that The Reading Agency have selected 'Kite Spirit' amongst a wonderful list of books as part of their vital Books on Prescription scheme launched by Libraries up and down the country on April 12th. Public and school Libraries now display a shelf of these books (a selection of fiction and non-fiction titles) which have been chosen by an eminent team of health professionals to help young adults navigate their way through some complex questions.

I have often found solace in reading. The private relationship between a book and the reader can create a safe world in which to explore thoughts and ideas that a young person might find it difficult to express to anyone. Yet through empathising with another's story one can begin to learn to articulate one's own emotional world.  

On the healing power of books
My late Dad was a GP. I often heard him say that when people came to the doctor's what was needed in many cases was not medicine but for people to have a meaningful engagement. To feel that their situation, feelings and anxieties have been recognised.... that attention had been given to their story. Many GP's today would love to be able to spend more time with their patients. One thing a book can provide is the space to explore at your own time at your own pace. 

We have seen mental health provision for young people being severely cut at a time when doctors are reporting a massive increase in anxiety depression and mental health problems amongst the young.
Organisations such as Young Minds are doing vital work in raising awareness about the extent of the crisis in Mental Health and Young People.

I wrote 'Kite Spirit' with a great deal of care, research and passion to tell a story about the profound pressure young people face in today's society to find a sense of peace and self worth. The book is told through the eyes of Kite who will wish all her life that her best friend could have found a voice or a container to speak about her feelings of sadness and depression.

When I visit schools to talk about 'Kite Spirit' I hold writing workshops with young people to encourage them to explore the themes of the book. Time and again schools have decided to use the writing that emerges from students as a basis from which to generate open discussion about the pressures young people face in today's society.    

Perspective from Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist
Alessandra Marsoni (Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, working for the Tavistock and Portman Foundation NHS Trust) commented on reading 'Kite Spirit':

'There is something very evocative in imagining the power of the kite, its spirit: there is a good spirit, when the kite flies confidently through the sky, its direction clearly determined by the wind. There can also be a bad spirit;  the kite soars frantically,all direction lost.  We all have both spirits in ourselves, one, to use Wordsworth’s words,  “enables us to mount...and lifts us when fallen”, the other one brings us down with a “deadly weight”.

Young people, beginning to grapple with life and its complexities, are particularly prone to experiencing both states of mind. The fall can be so overwhelming as to obliterate the idea of a recovery, the kite ever flying again; or it can be seen as a painful stage which can be overcome. Through the story of Kite and Dawn, Sita Brahmachari vividly illustrates these two possibilities: Dawn experienced Wordsworth’s “deadly weight” so powerfully,  she felt so alone with it, unable to speak, that death appeared like the only solution. By contrast, Kite, is able, thank to the support of her family and her friends, to go through the turmoil, the fall, but also to come out of it. Young people, like Kite and Dawn, have a lot to contend with, internally and externally (pressure of exams, university, finding a job...). The capacity to seek help, that of friends and family in the first instance but , at times, also professional help, is vital. As Sita writes in her initial note to the reader, “no matter how hard the fall there is always someone who can have the courage to speak”.

Libraries and Books on Prescription
That The Reading Agency recognise that 'Kite Spirit' can  help to explore this sensitive subject means I hope that many more young people will find in their personal exploration of the book a safe place to go, to navigate their way through some of the difficult and tangled paths of living.

During my time as Book Trust Writer In Residence (2015) I championed the role of libraries and librarians in giving access to all readers. How tragic would it be if the threatened library system and the inadequate provisions of mental health services for young people meant that this collection of books and many others would not be available to a young person who could benefit from reading them?  

I think my Dad would have seen great value in sending young people to the library with a prescription to read any of these wonderful books.

Books on Prescription @ReadingAgency #ReadingWell

Further Information on 'Kite Spirit'

'Kite Spirit' Book Trailer

'Kite Spirit' was nominated for the prestigious UKLA Book Award

'Kite Spirit' is an audio book recorded by the celebrated actress Juliet Stevenson

On Libraries 
Sean Edward - a homage to the many roles a library serves

A historical look at the role of the school Library and Librarian. Interview with Pam Dix

Young Minds

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