My Favourite Sad Book

Micheal Rosen’s Sad Book is one of my all-time favourite children’s books. One could say it’s because of the touching story, or because of my admiration for Quentin Blake’s illustrations. I say, it’s because of both, and just so much more.

Let’s Talk Emotions. Real Emotions.

Rosen’s book tells the story of his sadness after losing his son. I think a lot of people who pick up this book, looking for something to read their young one at bedtime, will probably lift a brow and scrunch and their face at the content of this book. Normally, children’s books have a general theme of joy and happiness winning at the end. You want to breathe hope into your children, teaching them about bravery and dreams. However, Rosen’s Sad Book takes a different approach to children’s literature. It takes a more real approach, yet keeps it appropriate and easy to understand for children. I like these types of books, because it teaches kids about emotions. Real emotions, and how people deal with these emotions.

Sometimes sad is very big.
It’s everywhere. All over me.

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

Michael Rosen explains in short, but easy terms, why he is sad, and how he experiences sadness. He tries to make sense of his sadness, telling us how he tries to deal with his sadness and tries to find ways to not hurt so much when being sad. The author mentions everything, from writing to doing one thing a day that he finds fun. He even admits that he doesn’t always handle his sadness the right way.

What I really love about this story is that Rosen doesn’t sugarcoat the sadness. He explains the emotion as is – in a child friendly manner of course. Nowhere he is telling the reader that he found a way to overcome his sadness and is now living a happy life. He doesn’t just skip across the emotion, ending it with a feel-good ending. Rosen is truly carrying across the meaning of sadness (as good as one could explain it), helping children understand what it means when someone is sad. in Rosen’s simple (yet beautiful) words he encapsulates the whole emotion of sadness. By reading his words and understanding his story, I also feel the emotion of sadness. Sure, my sadness is not the same as him losing his son, but he has successfully found a way to carry across his emotion in a way for children to understand. I’m not saying I want kids to read his book and burst out in tears, but this is definitely a story that teaches children the truth about sadness and how to deal with this emotion.

There’s a sad place inside me
because things aren’t the same.

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

I find that a lot of books skim over the bad part, mentioning the bad and sad, but not going into detail. It’s easy to read a story when we know that good prevails in the end, and that the bad parts don’t stay forever. It is just something for us to overcome. I love these books too, and I believe that they have their worth. However, when it comes to teaching children about emotions we need to focus on the reality of the emotion, and teach them how to deal with it. Especially when it comes to emotions we connect with negative feelings, such as sadness and jealousy.

Teaching Humanity

We tend to teach children that they should strive for a happy and good life, but forget to mention that sadness will be part of the journey. Just because you are living a good life, does not mean that there won’t be bad parts. It is inevitable. We tell them that they could be anything they want to be, if they just set their mind to it, but we don’t mention that setting your mind to something, means being prepared to fail over and over again. If you are aiming for any sort of goal in life, if you have any expectations and a dream you want to reach, then sadness and other not-so-nice feelings will be part of the journey. Yet, we tend to focus so much on the motivation of getting to the good part, that we fail to teach them how to cope when the no-so-nice feelings arrive, and we fail to teach them that it is completely normal to be sad. We are just rushing them to happiness, making them believe that the not-so-nice feelings are wrong. It’s not wrong. It’s part of life, and we need to experience it in some form or another.

I tell myself that being sad isn’t the same as being horrible. I’m sad, not bad.

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

That’s why Michael Rosen’s Sad Book is so special to me. I wish that there are more books like these in the world, discussing all types of emotions, and that we could have these books in kindergarten, so that we could help kids to first understand their own emotions, before teaching them how to Add or Subtract, or spell the word Cat. Schools put too much value on our children’s academic results and special skills, and too little focus on their humanity.

It is books like Rosen’s which allow children to explore an essential part of what it means to be alive and to be human.