How Author, Lisa Grenfell, is helping kids deal with anxiety with her new book, String Gets in a Knot.

Written by

Debbie

Published on

February 23, 2024
Time to read: 4 minutes

Hook Research had the joy of chatting with Lisa Grenfell, the author of String Get’s in a Knot, a book  aimed at supporting children who might have a worry.

String Gets A Knot: A book about having a worry

With 5 children in a classroom of 30 likely to have a mental health problem and 39% of 6-16 year olds experiencing a deterioration of mental health, String Gets in a Knot, feels like a very welcome and much needed book to support young people with worries.

Hook: Can you tell us in your own words what your book ‘String Gets a Knot’ aims to do?

Lisa Grenfell: The aims of my book are to; encourage children not to keep worries to themselves, help children understand there are support strategies to help them (going for a walk, stroking a pet) and empower them to seek help and support and realise they are not alone.

It’s the kind of book I wish I had when I was growing up

Lisa Grenfell

Lisa Grenfell: It is targeted for children (aged 2 to 6 years) and carers of children to help open up conversations about worries and anxiety.  However, it has the capacity to appeal to all audiences (regardless of age, gender) We all get worries, big or small, and can relate to that feeling of getting a knot in your tummy.  Going into schools and talking to children either in the classroom, assemblies or doing Mental Health Week, makes you realise how many different worries children have.  As well as opening up conversations for children, I’m hoping it’s a book they can dip back into whenever they are feeling down to help them feel better.

I hope it feels like a hug in a book

Lisa Grenfell

Lisa Grenfell: Initially it was a module for my MA in Illustration to write a socially driven narrative. I was so aware of the current wars and seeing children going through all sorts of problems that I wanted to do something to help and for them to know that there is help out there. That’s why I chose to go down the child’s mental health route 

I’ve created the kind of book I wanted to read when I was young and going through problems and feeling knots in my stomach. The story started off as a poem in my head and then I developed that feeling, (we can probably all recognise) of having a knot in your stomach in a childlike way.

Lisa Grenfell: Children memorise and think in pictures and it’s that classic saying of a picture paints a thousand words.. It’s easier for them to discuss and describe how they are feeling in a visual way.  The book helps children to visualise their feelings rather than internalise them.

“We aim to help all children make sense of the world, especially their emotions. Using images helps children to visualise feelings like anxiety and can help them with communicating when they are experiencing times of worry. It also helps to open up whole class discussions about big feelings like anxiety”

SENCO specialist, South

Lisa Grenfell: I’ve carefully considered the colour palette, images and fonts throughout the book.  String’s colouring moving from grey into colour at certain points, it’s a subliminal way of showing feelings that kids might not realise themselves.  I’ve included pictures with rain to symbolise tears. The photographs themselves, are therapy for children. Overall, String, helps children to detach by seeing worry as something they can tackle and get rid of as opposed to thinking it’s something buried inside of them. I also ensured that the font itself felt light-hearted for readers.

Lisa Grenfell: What has really stood out to me is how intelligent, caring and giving children are.  Very quickly children understand the concept of having knots themselves and how to tell someone about these feelings, but they also recognise that other people they know might have knots and that that they can help them. They are also hugely creative with big imaginations and have given me lots of ideas of how String can develop in the future.  Seeing how quickly they come up with new adventures for String, demonstrates how much they have bonded with him.

Children are intelligent, imaginative, ambitious, I have learned so much from them

Lisa Grenfell

String is going to be much more than a one book wonder

Lisa Grenfell

Lisa Grenfell: String has huge potential. Now I have created him, I want him to go into the wider world and do good by spreading hope and positivity.  I would love to find new ways of supporting everyone by making String as inclusive and wide-reaching as possible.  I’m thinking about expanding String into colouring books, activity books with therapy soothing toys to support children with special educational needs.

Longer term, it could be new books into other childhood issues that can help open up more conversations.

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