FreeBook & Author Interview: Rollercoaster Series

Download a copy of our FreeBook on the Rollercoaster Series, containing excerpts from all four titles in the series. We've also spoken to author Paula Nagel about her inspiration for the series and how it can be best put into practice.

FreeBook: Rollercoaster Series

Want to help children explore and manage their emotions?

The Rollercoaster series is a set of four books for primary aged children, which look at different situations or events that can cause 'big' or 'difficult' feelings, like worry, sadness, guilt and embarrassment.

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Author Paula Nagel has written an introduction explaining each title in the series, as well as selecting insightful and engaging excerpts from all four titles.

Can you give us a brief overview of you new series?

“The Rollercoaster series is a set of four books for primary aged children, which look at different situations or events that can cause ‘big’ or ‘difficult’ feelings, like worry, sadness, guilt and embarrassment.”

How did the series come about?

“As an educational psychologist I often have the opportunity to talk to teachers and parents about children, and the issues they are facing. The idea for the books came about after a conversation with some teachers who noticed that the children in their class viewed their difficult feelings as “bad” or “wrong”, and typical efforts to ignore or dismiss these feelings often made things worse. They wanted to help the children to understand that their difficult feelings are as much a part of life as the enjoyable ones. They were keen to give children the skills, not only to notice and understand their feelings, but also to accept them as a normal part of everyday life. After all, life is full of ups and downs and experiencing strong and difficult emotions is inevitable.

Rather than dismissing, ignoring or trying to chase away these big feelings, the Rollercoaster books encourage children to notice and accept their feelings, and to understand how, when left unchecked, they can grow bigger and begin to affect their wellbeing in lots of different ways. Each story comes with an attached workbook which helps children connect with the story on a more personal level, reinforces the key messages, and introduces a range of ideas for noticing and managing their own big and difficult feelings.

The stories take events and situations that will be familiar to many children, and use fictional characters to safely explore the emotional responses, coping strategies and problem solving. I use lots of visual strategies to explore emotions when I’m working with children, and I was keen to use a comic strip format to tell these stories. By working with Gary, an artist who is also a teacher, we were able to make the stories come to life visually, and therefore accessible to children with a wide range of needs.“

Is there anything that makes your series unique and stand out from the crowd?

“The books can be used in different ways in the classroom and at home. Firstly, they can be enjoyed simply as stories in their own right, as a library resource. Secondly, when introduced alongside the accompanying workbooks and teacher guidance, they can be used as a teaching resource for social and emotional wellbeing.”

Which features do you think will be most useful to users?

“Whole class or small group lessons can be planned around the comic strip stories and photocopiable activities in the workbook, to structure lessons on noticing, naming and understanding emotions. There is a particular emphasis in the workbooks on making links between thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and they provide a ready made structure for introducing some of the unhelpful thinking habits that underpin big and ‘difficult’ emotions. Importantly, the workbooks provide several activities to explore healthy coping strategies to promote children’s resilience.”

What is the one message you want reader to take away with them?

“It’s so important to teach children about their mental health, and the things they can do to keep themselves emotionally well. Having good mental health means being able to work through challenges, to adapt, solve problems and adopt healthy coping strategies when faced with adversity. These books can help adults start talking about some of these issues with children.”

How do you think your series helps address Mental Health in Children and Young Adults?

“The rollercoaster resource provides a structure to start conversations about mental health, what can affect it, and healthy ways of managing mental health challenges, so that children will be more likely to recognise their mental health needs and know what to do to when it needs some attention.”

What are your future plans?

“I am currently working with colleagues at Place2Be, leading national children’s mental health charity, to develop a mental health resource book for staff in schools, with a focus on whole school approaches to understanding, identifying and supporting mental health issues.”

Featured Titles

  • Rollercoaster Series

    Set

    By Paula Nagel

    PSHE delivery to promote mental health awareness and resilience, or can be read independently by children for enjoyment; the graphic format allows the thoughts, feelings and behaviours to be made explicit and accessible in a visual way, and will be attractive and accessible to children of different…

    Paperback – 2017-11-09
    Routledge
    Rollercoaster Series

  • What is 'It'?

    By Paula Nagel

    This therapeutic story focuses on low mood associated with bereavement. Sam feels low and fed up, but doesn't understand why he feels this way. Everyone else has an opinion on the change in his behaviour. His teacher thinks he is being lazy and can't be bothered to finish his work, his mum thinks…

    Paperback – 2017-04-28
    Routledge
    Rollercoaster Series

  • But What If...

    By Paula Nagel

    This therapeutic story focuses on worries about transition to secondary school. Jake is in Year 6. He is worried about the transition to secondary school because he has heard many rumours, including one about the older pupils flushing first years' heads down the toilets. The story illustrates how…

    Paperback – 2017-04-28
    Routledge
    Rollercoaster Series

  • Mind Reading

    By Paula Nagel

    This therapeutic story focuses on feelings of social isolation and unhelpful thinking habits linked to friendship difficulties. Stacie wonders why her best friend, Kayla, ignores her when she sees her in town at the weekend. All weekend she thinks about the possible reasons, and imagines some of…

    Paperback – 2017-04-28
    Routledge
    Rollercoaster Series

  • Stuck on a Loop

    By Paula Nagel

    This therapeutic story focuses on intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviour, linked to exam anxiety. Everyone knows Gemma always gets thing 'right' and is top of the class. However she feels under pressure to do well in the Year 5 tests and is becoming increasingly worried. She thinks she has to…

    Paperback – 2017-04-28
    Routledge
    Rollercoaster Series

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