8 Best Children’s Books About Mental Health Update 05/2022

Children's Books About Mental Health

“Don’t know about y’all, but I’d like to go back to some old times.” This made me both laugh and cry. We, as a society, have lost and traumatized a lot of people and ourselves this year, and I can’t think of a better time to talk about mental health. While children and young people have shown that they can be strong, it is very important to give them tools and language so that they can understand and talk about their feelings. It’s also important for kids to understand that mental health is both a product of the environment and a product of biology, and that taking care of one’s mind is very important.

The young people in your life might like to read these books with you during Mental Health Month or any time of the year. Our emotions become more complicated as we get older, just like the discussion of mental health in the books I’ve chosen to show you grows more complicated as well. Eleanor’s Bookshop is on the southwest corner of 11th and Lewis. You can buy all of these books there. In case you can’t make it to the store, check out our online store at bookshop.org. There, we have some of these titles (and many more) organized in lists for your convenience, so you can find what you want quickly.

GRUMPY TORTOISE by Michael Buxton

GRUMPY TORTOISE by Michael Buxton

“First-time feelings” from Kane Miller publishing is a great way to teach kids how to deal with their emotions at a young age, and it’s a great way to do this, too. One title, GRUMPY TORTOISE, is simple enough to show the idea of taking a break to get out of a bad mood. There is a Grumpy Tortoise at the start of the story. Afterwards, Tortoise shares a snack with some friends and spends the rest of the day having fun. This board book is simple, but it shows how to be mindful of your feelings and wait for them to pass. Stable Sloth, Cautionary Chameleon, and Scared Cat are some of the other “first-time feelings” stories that people have told

RUBY FINDS A WORRY by Tom Percival

As a teacher, I read this book to my middle-school students on the first day of school this year. My job is also to run Eleanor’s Bookshop, but I also teach 8th grade English. To meet CDC guidelines and students who hadn’t been in class since March, I had to change my usual plans for the first day of school, which usually involve a lot of collaboration and critical thought. As with little kids, middle school kids love to be read to. This picture book was a great way to start a relationship with my students on the first day of school.

There’s something following Ruby around, and she calls it a “worry.” It’s a yellow scribble with eyes, and Ruby calls it a “worry,” too. As the story goes on, Ruby’s “worry” grows bigger and bigger until it gets in the way of her everyday life. In this book, it’s important for kids to talk about their problems with other people instead of keeping them inside. When Ruby talks to a friend, she finally gets rid of the worry; the worry goes away!

A KIDS BOOK ABOUT EMOTIONS by Nakita Simpson

Inside, this book looks like a picture book in black and white. For those who know B.J. Novak’s “MY BOOK WITH NO PICTURES,” the inside of the book is a coloring and activity book that looks like that one, too. A grownup and a child are meant to share this together, and its discussion-style layout makes that clear, too. It asks this question in the middle of the book. Can you think of some of them now? Child and adult can write their thoughts on the next page. A good way to start a conversation with a child about their feelings is with this book. It’s thought-provoking, interactive, and easy to talk about, so it’s a good choice.

THE WORRYSAURUS by Rachel Bright, illustrated by Chris Chatterton

The picture book is a mix of old and new. It has rhyming stanzas that sound like something from the past, but the illustrations and text show that it’s not. The Worrysaurus is worried about the rain ruining his picnic, and he almost lets the worry ruin it before the weather does. This is how it works: This is what the Worrysaurus wants to do instead of canceling the picnic. He looks for things that make him happy. His worries are eased by these comfort items. He goes on with his picnic as planned, which leads to a fun afternoon with his friend the lizard. Children are told not to let their fears and worries get in the way of their plans.

WHY DO WE CRY? by Fran Pintadera, illustrated by Ana Sender

WHY DO WE CRY by Fran Pintadera, illustrated by Ana Sender

For kids who are still learning how to talk about their feelings, the message of WHY DO WE CRY? is very important to know. It shows how a mother and her child talk about why people cry. The story goes on to list thirteen different reasons why someone might cry, such as great sadness, loneliness, or joy! This shows how people see the world and express themselves in different ways, but they all have some things in common, like how they think and feel. It also talks about how tears can make people feel better, and that they should be welcomed instead of feared.

GUTS by Raina Telgemeier

GUTS shows how mental and physical health are linked in a comic book for kids in middle school. Readers see the main character use talk therapy to deal with real and relatable problems that 4th and 5th graders have. She also has stomach problems and fears that she can’t talk about with her friends and family. The message of the story encourages people to spend time and energy on their mental health, but also to know that other people might be having their own problems.

(DON’T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH edited by Kelly Jensen

Young adults will love this collection of essays because they are filled with witty, wise, and real stories. It is broken up into five chapters that start a conversation about the complexities and intricacies of mental health. The essays cover a wide range of mental illnesses, including eating disorders, addiction, anxiety, OCD, and many more. Also, at the back of the book, there are links to movies, hotlines, nonfiction books, and fiction books that can help you keep talking about mental health. This title would be great to use in a class or book club for high school students who like to talk.

TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN by John Green

In TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN, Aza Holmes keeps in touch with her friends, flirts with a crush, and gets caught up in a mystery. As well as having anxiety and OCD, she also has a lot of stress. The first-person narration of the story is powerful, because the reader can start to feel the need for a break from Aza’s thoughts. Aza’s anxiety and OCD have a big impact on how she interacts with the world around her, but Green does a great job of describing the reality of living with mental illness without making Aza’s illness the main point of the story.

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