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New Irish Book Teaches Children Coping Skills

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63% of Irish parents are worried about their child’s emotional development, according to Barnardos’ 2021 Back to School survey. This report reveals that 53% of primary school parents and 64% of secondary school parents are concerned about anxiety. An incredibly timely book, The Little Squirrel Who Worried by Katie O’Donoghue (Gill Books) introduces gentle techniques to help young people manage anxiety and overwhelming emotions.

Therapist Katie O’Donoghue from Kerry was inspired to write and illustrate this story while working for CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service) in the NHS. At the time, she was facilitating a group to help parents support children who had been referred to the service for anxiety. Interwoven through the book are the strategies Katie was sharing with these parents. Writing the book during October 2020 also provided comfort to Katie while missing family and friends in Ireland. “I found creating the art, which featured native woodland animals, a way to connect with home, and the project became an activity for my own wellbeing too,” says Katie.A serendipitous mistake led to the book being published. While still in London, Katie emailed the story to her father in Ireland. A typo in the email address caused it to be sent to a different Brian O’Donoghue on the other side of the world. This stranger read the story to his young son, and they both found it incredibly helpful. Their enthusiastic response was what ultimately gave Katie the confidence to submit her work to publishers.

Hi Katie,

Think you sent this to the wrong email address. However, I couldn’t resist reading the attachment to my 6-year-old son. He suffers from anxiety, and we have read all the books, and work with a therapist to address it. I have to say, it was just a beautiful piece and a nice way of refreshing him on all the skill sets he’s learned to address his worry. He reenacted the badger’s instructions to get cosy and breathe. His final words as he was falling asleep tonight were “That’s a really good bedtime story” – I’ve never heard him say that ever. When you get it published, please reach out to me so I can buy a dozen copies. All my best and thanks for making the world better (because the book really does),
Brian O’Donoghue (in Chicago)

Just as squirrels gather nuts for winter, The Little Squirrel Who Worried helps children store wisdom to comfort and guide them in difficult times. Katie’s hand-painted watercolours give the book a classic quality. An attractive hardback, this makes a lasting Christmas gift that will benefit families for generations to come.

Order your copy of The Little Squirrel Who Worried online here.

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