The Welsh Government’s Education Minister has launched a new scheme to ensure that all primary schools receive a special pack of books supporting children’s health and well-being.
The Iechyd Da (‘Good Health’) scheme was launched on Wednesday 3 February 2021 during Children’s Mental Health Week.
Working with the Books Council of Wales, the Welsh Government’s Education Department is funding a package of 41 books for every primary school, to help children understand and discuss issues around health and wellbeing.
Every book has been chosen by a panel of experts, and the selection includes both picture books and chapter books suitable for a range of ages between 4 – 11.
The aim is to support schools in dealing with health and well-being topics as part of the new curriculum, and to help teachers discuss these subjects during extremely challenging times.
Officially launching the Iechyd Da scheme, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “I am delighted to be involved in the launch of the Books Council of Wales’ Iechyd Da project. The Iechyd Da project aims to help address the impact of long-term social distancing and self-isolation, in providing reading books that stimulate conversations and parental engagement on these themes.
“Making sure that all children and young people can share a love of reading is an important part of the work that I do as Minister for Education and I would like to thank the Books Council of Wales for its hard work in developing an interesting series of resources to support teachers and learners in response to the pandemic.”
In addition to the pack of 41 books, schools will be provided with a comprehensive set of resources with all the material prepared by a network of teachers specialising in children’s literacy, health and wellbeing.
Additional digital resources will also be available on the Welsh Government’s education platform, HWB, during the Spring term.
Catrin Passmore, Deputy Head at Ysgol Gymraeg Cwmbrân school, said: “These books have been carefully selected and will be an excellent resource in terms of helping pupils to understand themselves, to understand others and to understand the world they live in. The themes in the books include friendship, resilience, self belief, mental health and physical health, and these all very relevant to what we’re going through today.”
Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “We know how beneficial reading can be in terms of our wellbeing and mental health, and this scheme will help to open the door to conversations with children about quite difficult topics. It’s always important to encourage understanding and conversations like this but now more than ever, and we are delighted to be working with the Welsh Government’s Education Department to make this important project a reality.”
There’s a list of the Welsh and English books included in the Iechyd Da pack on the Books Council’s website and all of the titles are available through local bookshops. Some of the titles are also available as e-books on ffolio.wales.
The Books Council is also involved in the Reading Well Books on Prescription for children scheme which helps children and young people to understand and manage their mental health and wellbeing through reading.
Aimed at Key Stage 2 children, the scheme includes 21 volumes in Welsh and 33 in English which discuss topics such as anxiety and grief, bullying and web safety, and how to deal with events in the news.
Books on the list can be recommended by health and social care professionals, teachers and anyone else working with children and families.
The Reading Well Books on Prescription programme for children has been developed by health professionals as well as children and their families. It’s delivered in Wales by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Welsh Government, public libraries and the Books Council of Wales.