Lit Kid: finding our way to bravery

Last time, I told you about my basket of books, and why I keep them handy. Time to dip in, and let you try out a few.

Today’s collection are all about being brave in some way. All have been road tested a good deal by Junior Reader, and I feel pretty happy in recommending them on.

The Brave Little Grork – Kathryn Cave, Nick Maland

This might have been a bargain store find, I can’t quite remember, but it is a lovely one. The pictures are in a light and airy style, often with unusual perspectives.

The Grork is shy, not brave, and tends to anticipate┬áscary things around every corner – even when the truth may not be so scary.

Part of what I love about this story is the way it deals with friendship. The Grork is friends with a Greep, who doesn’t seem to be afraid of things in the same way.

The Greep doesn’t tease the Grork, or lecture him, but accompanies him, and the Grork does learn to be brave through what they find along the way.

I relate to the Greep, sometimes finding parts of life scary, sometimes with other Greeps around me who don’t see the world the same way. It’s good to know that grorks and greeps can be friends, and can learn from each other’s perspective.

Scaredy Squirrel – Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel may be scared of all kinds of things, but that doesn’t stop him appearing in quite a few books now. You can even Tweet him, so the website tells me – if you’re feeling brave.

Scaredy Squirrel is interesting to find in a children’s book, because of the nature of his fears. He relies on a very structured routine to deal with the things he is scared of.

Often, if he needs to tackle something new, he needs a lot of props to help him, and a very detailed plan of what to do first, next, and so on.

Generally, Scaredy Squirrel finds that, despite his planning, sometimes elements go differently. He drops a key item that he needs, or something appears where he doesn’t expect it – he needs to improvise.

What is very encouraging is that, despite the fears, Scaredy Squirrel is generally able to come through the scary ‘unknown’ situation – even if he initially feels the need to play dead for a while afterwards.

Be Good, Gordon – Angela McAllister, Tim Archbold

This is less overtly about being brave, but it is a real favourite read for us. The illustrative style is quite similar to Quentin Blake, and there is a similar encouraging silliness about the book.

Gordon is used to having a weekly babysitter. His parents tell him to be good – and he is, brushing his teeth, dutifully taking himself to bed.

But his new babysitter, Lily Jigg-Popsicle, has other ideas of what is meant to happen – including bouncing on beds and squelching around in the mud outside.

Times and Guardian reviews cited on the Amazon page (link above) refer to this story offering an alternative to over-protective parenting.

But it is also a great encouragement for those who stick to routine as a safety net – and shows that we can brave new experiences, and be spontaneous.

Gordon finds that he can have fun. He doesn’t go off the rails. But he does find that the rush we get from trying new things, and being in the moment, can be its own reward.

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There are plenty more stories of bravery – often in difficult circumstances. Whether those difficulties are fictional, fantastical, or close to life, there are lots of stories out there for the moments when we long to find the heroic aspect of ourselves.

These stories I’ve featured are more for those who feel they just have to be brave, or correct, to deal with everyday life, let alone crises and adventures.

For those with children who are timid, or whose personality style brings them to seeking structure over spontaneity, these books can help offer useful ‘what if’ stories – and even to encourage how to cope when the ‘what ifs’ change as we go along.

Another time, I’ll look at some books about worry – and how to get beyond its grip.

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