August’s Picture Book: When Sadness is at Your Door

3rd August 2021

As we approach “Back to School” season, I believe all parents are getting anxious about how children will adapt to life in kindergarten. Even as adults we sometimes find it troubling in front of sadness. This month’s picture book is a warm opening to prepare children and parents on emotional literacy for the upcoming school year!

When Sadness is at Your Door is a picture book written for children ages 2-6, and also a potential good read for you and I. Eva Eland is a Dutch author and illustrator, currently residing in the United Kingdom. This is her first picture book, a primer in emotional literacy and mindfulness that is available in 19 countries including the United Kingdom, China and France.

The story is about a little boy receiving a surprise visit from Sadness. Although uneasy with the visitor’s arrival at the start, he learns how to befriend it. He gives it a name and they do all sorts of activities together. They sit and draw, listen to music, drink hot chocolate and go for a walk. At night they sleep in the same bed. Waking up in the morning, this visitor has suddenly vanished, and a new day begins. The author brilliantly concludes “Maybe all it wants to know is that it is welcome”. Sadness just wants to be accepted, embraced and listened to.

The artwork and cover illustrations are simple and inviting. Eland illustrates Sadness as a mint-green jello blob, resembling Da Bai in [Big Hero 6]. Sadness may creep out of nowhere and pay a surprise visit. For children, the surprise visit could be their favourite shirt being stained, or breaking a beloved item, or being ignored by their best friends suddenly. We should avoid criticism and empathise with their low spirits, and try to understand them. There is no rush in cheering up the child right away. Company and support are what they truly need, and the pathway to entering the child’s world and understanding their vision and inner thoughts.

This picture book is pleasant and very comforting. Children find a way to welcome and befriend the unexpected visitor Sadness. Try not to be afraid of Sadness. The best way to cope with sadness is to understand it. This title is the perfect opportunity to allow children to navigate negative emotions, especially now that children’s psychological health is greatly concerned. Learning to take care of their emotional health, and to face the ups and downs of life is vastly important. Parental love and support play an empowering role in how children overcome obstacles.

We hope that this storybook inspires teachers or parents to guide children in understanding negative emotions are “normal”, and to be prepared when emotions attack. Emotional literacy and mindfulness is a lifelong lesson for all ages, may this also encourage you to rethink how you tackle when this visitor arrives.

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