Free Sadsville Books to Schools

by Martin Roberts in Bath, England, United Kingdom

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To provide a copy of Sadsville to all schools in the UK, to help children’s mental wellbeing and raise awareness of the NSPCC and Childline

by Martin Roberts in Bath, England, United Kingdom

In a world where childhood mental health issues are making the headlines regularly, Martin Roberts wants to show children that there CAN BE A BETTER WAY and that help is out there, no matter how big or small the problem is.

As a father, children's book writer and passionate campaigner on children's issues,  Martin Roberts, presenter of BBC TV's Homes under the Hammer has written a book especially to help with children's mental wellbeing and promote the work of NSPCC and Childline. 

Working in support of  the NSPCC and Childline, Martin hopes to provide a FREE copy of this book, first to all schools in the UK, and then to every child in the UK.

Sadsville is a beautifully illustrated chaptered picture book, that can be read by an 8/9 year old of average reading ability, and which has been acclaimed and loved  by children , parents, teachers, head teachers and academics alike.  It captivates, entertains and educates a wide age range - but is primarily aimed at children aged 7 to 10. The  story follows the central character 'Herman' on a magical red double-decker bus to'Sadsville', a fairytale place where something is afoot. Herman uses his problem solving skills to solve the mystery of why everyone is Sadsville is sad. The book not only promotes problem solving, but shows children that sometimes sadness is OK. It also contains a 'self help' guide and ultimately guides them to the NSPCC's Childline service for help with the kind of sadness that really isn't OK.

 Sadsville helps children's mental well being by explaining that if you're sad, perhaps you can look at things in a different way to make things better. But if you're sad for the wrong reasons there are people out there who can help you.


“Thank you for visiting my crowdfunding page. With your help, my aim is to give a FREE copy of Sadsville, in the first instance, to EVERY SCHOOL in the the UK. Then, hopefully, to EVERY CHILD in the UK. Accompanied by a lesson plan and teachers guide, it will be the catalyst for discussion about emotions and the concept of sadness. I believe that though the gentle medium of a charming story, children can begin to understand that if things aren’t right in their world, something can be done. Aside from encouraging problem solving, Sadsville also helps children to 'think outside the box' and seek help if they need it.

I have created The Martin Roberts Foundation - a registered charity in England & Wales that now acts as a vehicle for fundraising and sponsorship that will enable this worthwhile and much needed initiative to become reality. Through the Martin Roberts Foundation I have therefore begun the process of providing a copy of the book FREE of CHARGE to children currently in school year group 4. These are 8/9 years olds who, in most cases, are able to read and enjoy the book independently and who, importantly are within the target age range that the NSPCC want to reach. The NSPCC believe that by engaging with primary aged children, talking to them about things that concern them and showing them a route to follow if they are feeling scared, sad or victimised, they can prevent these children growing into teenagers that have unresolved issues. Issues which become mental disorders. Mental disorders which can manifest themselves into low self esteem, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, self harm, suicidal thoughts and depression. 

Over 34,000 books already provided to schools in Bath, Greater Somerset & Hampshire.

We’ve made a great start and I’ve been hugely encouraged  by the numerous positive comments that have been fed back from those children and their teachers who have already received their copy of Sadsville.

 Our next goal is to give a free copy to every school in the UK, accompanied by specially written teachers materials and a lesson plan. Following that, as funds allow, we will gradually provide a free copy of the book to every single year 4 child in the UK. And if just one child is inspired by the book to deal better with mental wellbeing issues, or in extreme cases, saved from abuse when they are vulnerable, then the project will have been a success.”


Sadsville helps children struggling with emotional and mental wellbeing problems (or those who may face mental challenges in the future) in a number of ways:

1.The story itself cleverly breaks down the route cause of sadness to be surmountable.

A leading professor in Psychology & Affective Neuroscience, Professor Elaine Fox states;

“SADSVILLE helps kids to think about sadness in a unique way, providing them with a platform to challenge the negative gremlins inside their heads, and realise that they are just that. Gremlins. And not a true reflection of reality.”

Through the medium of a story book, including a 'self help' guide, Sadsville helps children challenge the way they are thinking and tackle negativity themselves. It encourages children to visualise ‘sadness’ as something that can be overcome - and by taking a step back from their situation, view their reality in a different, positive,  way.

2. The book contains a simple ‘Self Help Guide’ 

At the end of the story, the book offers some simple guidance to a child who may be feeling sad for any reason. It re-positions ‘Sad’ as being either ‘Good Sad’ or ‘Bad Sad’ and explains that ‘Good Sad' - such as when a pet dies, a football team looses or a holiday comes to an end’ is often a passing feeling but ‘Bad Sad'- caused by neglect, bullying or abuse, is more serious- and a child experiencing this should seek help. This concept is explored more fully in the accompanying Assembly / Lesson Plan that is being distributed to schools alongside the books.

3. The book gently points the way to the NSPCC'S Childline service and other organisations

The NSPCC’s Childline number and website are clearly featured at the back of the book. This raises awareness of this invaluable service. Unlike a simple flyer or handout, Sadsville is a book that will have longevity and serve as a reminder of this service for a child for many years to come. 

4.The book can act as a catalyst for discussion about why children may be feeling sad. 

The Sadsville Campaign wants to encourage whole school or classroom discussions about feeling sad and invite children to think about what they can do if they are. Alongside the book itself, all schools will receive an assembly guide and  lesson plan with accompanying worksheets to help teachers introduce the topic of sadness and the Sadsville book in the classroom.

As John Cameron, Head of Childline explained, when Childline was first set up most of the calls coming in related to neglect and physical or sexual abuse. Nowadays, the calls are relating to mental health issues, and often children don’t have anyone to talk too. Thanks to disparate families, busy lives and the constant interruptions of iphones & tablets etc, the conversation about ‘How you day went?” over the dinner table rarely happen. Some children feel very isolated and feel they don’t have anyone to talk to about the issues and challenges they are facing.

The book not only promotes problem solving and a different way of thinking to children, but also guides them to the support that the NSPCC's Childline service can provide.

“The Sadsville book project will help support the work of the NSPCC to protect children today and prevent abuse from happening tomorrow... Sadsville introduces children to problem solving and explains that you can be sad for a number of different reasons and encourages them to have the confidence to seek help. The number and website for the Childline support services offers a call to action at the end of the book and provides children with a lifeline when needed the most. In the most extreme of cases, this lifeline saves lives. By distributing Sadsville widely, we put this message in to the hands of children who may not otherwise have known who to turn to for help, and although it is impossible to monitor how children come to hear about Childline, the number of additional children using the service as a direct result of this initiative could be highly significant."  Peter Wanless, CEO NSPCC

“Thank you for creating this highly entertaining and original way of raising children’s awareness of how they can reach out for help through support services such as Childline. I wish the Sadsville book project every success.”
Dame Esther Rantzen DBE & Founder of Childline


The main things we want to provide are:

1. In the first instance, A FREE copy of the Sadsville book for EVERY SCHOOL in the UK. 
Following that, we hope to raise enough money to give a FREE copy to EVERY YEAR FOUR CHILD (8 & 9 year olds) in the UK.

2. A accompanying FREE school assembly or lesson plan and teachers pack to prompt a whole school, classroom or small group discussion about emotions and sadness.
This is supported by worksheets for children to complete themselves, helping them to think about what they can do if they, or their friends are feeling sad.


The mental health of our nation makes regular headlines and it is now being recognised that many emotional and mental health problems within adults have their roots within childhood and teenage years.  Children’s experiences in their early years lay the foundation for their futures. Helping children that show signs of having mental struggles in their earlier years may prevent those children growing into troubled teenagers.

Here's what some of the UK's leading children's charities and organisations say about childhood mental health:

In their ‘Good Childhood Report’, The Children’s Society found that children's well-being is as low as it was 20 years ago.

In November 2018, NHS Digital published the results of its survey (carried out by the National Centre for Social Research, the Office for National Statistics and Youthinmind) of the Mental Health of Children and Young People in 2017. Its findings show:

One in eight (12.8%) 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed in 2017.

•Specific mental disorders were grouped into four broad categories: emotional,behavioural, hyperactivity and other less common disorders. Emotional disorders were the most prevalent type of disorder experienced by 5 to 19 year olds in 2017 (8.1%).

•Rates of mental disorders increased with age. 5.5% of 2 to 4 year old children experienced a mental disorder, compared to 16.9% of 17 to 19 year olds.

Emotional disorders have become more common in 5 to 15 year-olds – going from 4.3% in 1999 and 3.9% in 2004 to 5.8% in 2017.

Sadly, but not suprisingly, children with a mental disorder were more likely to have poor general health, a limiting long-term illness, a physical or developmental problem or a special educational need.

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of The Anna Freud Centre says: “There have been repeated calls for more funding for supporting children and young people’s mental health.This is desperately needed. However we also know that purely focusing on funding won’t solve the problem. School integration with mental health is welcome but the early recognition of emotional problems and the impact of trauma, stress and deprivation on pre-school children also draws attention to the need to intervene before school starts. We need to develop a more comprehensive approach to young people’s mental health from the community to the clinic, with schools as a key part of this picture."

In their latest Annual Review, Childline reported: 

  • Mental and emotional health has emerged as the #1 concern of children and young people who contact Childline, accounting for 22% of counselling sessions in 2016/17. 
  • The number of counselling sessions about anxiety has increased by 17%.
  • More children aged under 11 are turning to childline.

The NSPCC want to target younger children in their campaigns.

The Sadsville Campaign is aimed at Primary aged children i.e. Key Stage 2 (and in the future, Key Stage 1, so 5-7 year olds). The objective being to reach out to children at a young age to help prevent mental issues developing into more serious problems.


The Martin Roberts Foundation wants to provide a FREE copy of Sadsville..


NEXT:  To EVERY 8/9 YEAR OLD (school year 4) child across the country. 

Every £2 pledged enables us to provide one book FREE to a child or school.

To provide a copy of Sadsville along with the Teacher's pack & Lesson and Assembly Plan to EVERY SCHOOL in the UK, we need to raise £50,000.

THEN...It costs approximately £60,000 to give a FREE copy of Sadsville to every Year 4 pupil in an educational region in the UK; so bearing in mind there are 8 regions- North West, North east, South West, South East, Midlands, London, Wales and Scotland, we need around £480,000 in total to give a FREE copy of Sadsville to EVERY year 4 child in the UK (There are economies of scale in print costs). The number scan be broken down in to smaller chunks, such as Local education authority (LEA) areas or even individual schools.  

Perhaps YOU can kindly help us raise funds for a particular region or donate the money needed to provide books to a specific school?

Can You Help Me?

  • Individuals who want to help with this worthwhile project. Every £2 you pledge will enable us to provide 1 FREE copy of Sadsville to a UK primary school, along with the assembly pack and teaching resources. 
  • Teachers, school governors or anyone associated with a particular school. For just £2 a copy, you can purchase books FOR YOUR OWN SCHOOL  along with the assembly pack and teaching resources. Please email us at [email protected] or visit and use the Contact form to ensure your books are fast tracked to your school.
  • For Business and organisations (or individuals) who kindly donate over £2500, you can have a small advert or your name featured in the printed book. Please email us at [email protected] or visit and use the Contact form to discuss this option.

A Final Word from Martin...

"Thank you for any help you can give me to make this hugely worthwhile and much needed project, a reality. It's possible that we will never know whether or not an innocent child has been protected from the abuse the NSPCC see on a daily basis as a result of the Sadsville project. But, if as a result of our efforts and your kindness, even just one child is helped, then it will have been worthwhile."

Donations will be available once the project is live.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£50 or more

Copy of Sadsville book signed by Martin Roberts

Recieve your own copy of the Sadsville book signed by the author, Martin Roberts and know that 25 schools in the UK will receive a copy of the book and a specially written Teachers Pack & Lesson Guide as a result of your kindness.

£20 or more

Digital download of Sadsville, read by Martin

You will receive a digital download of the Sadsville book, read by Martin and know that thanks to your support, a physical copy of the book and a Teachers Guide & Lesson Plan will go to 10 schools in the UK.

£100 or more

Signed book & WIN a celebrity video message

A signed copy of Sadsville and entry in to a draw to win a video message from your choice of the celebrities who have read parts of Sadsville including: David Hasselhoff (Hollywood Legend), Ant Middleton (SAS Survival TV presenter), Buno Tonioli (Strictly), Warwick Davies (Actor), Basil Brush (Children's entertainer), Jeremy Vine (Broadcaster), Christopher Biggins (TV Presenter), Dame Esther Rantzen and others

£250 or more

Personal video message from Martin Roberts & books

You will receive a signed copy of Sadsville and a personal video message or tweet from Martin Roberts. Your kind support means a further 125 schools will receive a copy of the book and Teachers Guide & Lesson Plan.

£500 or more

Limited Edition Illustration and Signed Book

A Signed copy of Sadsville plus a beautiful Limited Edition illustration from the book, signed by the artist. Thanks to you, a further 250 schools in the UK will receive a copy of the book and Teachers Guide.

£1,000 or more

Personal video message from a Celebrity & a book

A signed copy of Sadsville plus a personal video message from a celebrity of your choice from the list of those who have read from the book including; David Hasselhoff (Hollywood Legend), Ant Middleton (SAS Survival TV presenter), Bruno Tonioli (Strictly), Basil Brush (Childrens entertainer), Jeremy Vine (Broadcaster), Christopher Biggins (TV Presenter), Dame Esther Rantzen , Warwick Davies (Actor), Dion Dublin (Footballer) and others.

£2,500 or more

Original illustration & Your name/logo in the book

Any supporters pledging £2500 or more will have their name or the name or logo of their company or organisation printed in the book. You will also receive two signed copies of Sadsville plus an original, framed, one-of-a-kind illustration from the book, signed by the artist. Thanks to your generosity, 1250 schools will receive the book and Teachers Guide and Lesson plan.

£5,000 or more

Your character or business featured in next book

A truly unique opportunity to have a character (or in the case of a business, a shop or factory) named after you in the next Villes book, plus a framed original illustration of that character, shop or factory, signed by the artist. Your generous support means 2500 schools will receive a copy of the book and Teachers Guide & Lesson Plan.

£10,000 or more

A personal visit to you by Martin Roberts & books

A unique opportunity to have Martin Roberts visit to your school, home, organisation or workplace. This is a chance to have him hosting a corporate or social event, do a personal reading of Sadsville or take part in any other activity that you would like him too. Plus you will receive 10 signed copies of the book. You kindness and generocity will enable us to send 5000 schools in the UK a copy of the book and Teachers Guide & Lesson Plan.

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