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6 Children’s Books Discussing Mental Health

Colorful books on a bookshelf

Discussing mental health isn’t easy, especially when you’re discussing it with you child, but it is crucial. The stigma surrounding mental health is what keeps us from really being able to tackle the issue. It is difficult, but crucial to discuss mental health with your children because they have a 1 in 5 chance of developing a severe mental illness in their lifetime.

If your child happens to be the 1 in 5 and you have openly and honestly discussed mental health with them, they are far more likely to understand what they’re going through and to not be ashamed of it.

One of the best ways to discuss any challenging topic with a child is through books. Books have a way of explaining the topic to children in a way that they understand and that keeps them engaged. Below are some of the best children’s books discussing mental health.

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Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day

This book, written by Jamie Lee Curtis and illustrated by Laura Cornell, is a book that teaches children how to identify and name their feelings. Curtis’s quick and fun writing style will keep your child listening while Cornell’s whimsical and colorful illustrations will keep them following along. The book covers a vast range of emotions from silly, as the title suggests, to sad.

The idea behind this book is to get kids to recognize, label, and discuss their emotions. Too often do we feel something and not have a word for it, or are afraid to discuss it. By teaching children from an early age that it is fun and beneficial to talk about how they feel, they will be more likely to become young adults that can openly discuss the hard times they face.

Up and Down the Worry Hill: A Children’s Book About OCD

OCD is a debilitating disorder that is difficult for most adults to wrap their minds around. Up and Down the Worry Hill is told from the perspective of Casey, a young boy with OCD. Through the course of the book, Casey struggles with accepting his disorder but finds hope in treatment and the realization that his OCD is not anyone’s fault.

Up and Down the Worry Hill opens up a discussion between parents and children about living with OCD and using Behavioral Therapy as a way to treat the symptoms. The easy to understand language prepares both children and parents for the terms used in treatment, making the situation seem a lot less daunting.

Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets

ADHD is one of the most common mental health disorders among children. In this book, David has trouble sitting still and paying attention in class. Luckily, his dad had trouble with that too and helps him come up with some solutions. Your child can learn alongside David as he finds creative ways to keep himself on track and keep his body calm.

Even if your child does not have ADHD, they can still benefit from these creative solutions because, let’s be real, all little ones have a hard time dealing with the “wiggle fidgets.”

Red: A Crayon’s Story

This book is about a red crayon that really colors blue. All of his other crayon friends and family tell him to try hard and practice being a red crayon, but, despite all his efforts, he can only color blue. One day, Red meets a crayon that asks him to draw a blue ocean for a boat. Red says he can’t do it, but, when he tries, he realizes he can! He realizes that he isn’t Red. He is Blue and he has been all along. His friends and family celebrate Blue and his discovery of his real self.

This book is an amazing, kid-friendly way to discuss being trans. Make no mistake, I am in no way saying that being trans is a mental disorder. I’m saying that not discussing this with your child can lead to mental health issues. Children who discover that they are trans and haven’t been taught about it will likely feel confusion and shame. Those that aren’t trans need to be educated too so that when they meet a trans person, they don’t see them as weird or bad.

Opening up this conversation takes the stigma away from being trans and teaches children that it’s perfectly normal. This will help reduce the incredibly high rate of depression, anxiety, and suicide within the trans community, a goal we should all strive to meet.

Grumpy Pants

In this book, Penguin is having a grumpy day and no matter what he does, he just can’t make it better! At the end of the day, Penguin comes home a grumpily gets undressed. Then, Penguin splashes into the bathtub to wash his grumpiness away.

This book shows children that even after the grumpiest of days, they can still turn it around and finish the day in a good way, or start the next day off better than the last.

Hey Warrior

Hey Warrior by Karen Young is a book about anxiety – understanding where it comes from and what they physical symptoms look like. It teaches children how to understand, accept, and overcome their anxiety. The illustrations are gorgeous and will keep your child engaged and ready to learn how to live life with anxiety.

The Princess and the Fog

This young reader book delves into the topic of depression. The princess has everything she could want until the fog comes. The book uses colorful images and metaphors to help children understand what depression looks and feels like, and how to cope with it.

If you have any books you’d like to recommend, please let me know by dropping me a comment below!

Taylor

10 Comments

  1. What a great list of books. We’ve had some challenges with mental health in the family, and these books would have been lifesavers when my kid was younger. I have a few friends that have small children with some mental health issues that would absolutely appreciate this list. Especially the Up and Down the Worry Hill. OCD can be destructive to a family. Thank you, I’m going to share this with my friend today.

    • JB, thanks so much for the comment! I’m sorry to hear about your challenges. I had some in my family as well when I was growing up and these definitely would’ve helped.

      I’m so happy to hear that you will be sharing this list with your friend! I hope that they will be able to find help in one, or all, of these books.

  2. Its wonderful how a children’s book, if it really resonates with a child, can make a huge impact in their life. Thats why its good to make sure they have access to reading materials like these that help them learn about their feeling and express their emotions in a new way. My own kids have read some of these. I hope they help someone avoid problems in life. 

    • Anna, that’s so cool that your kids have already read some of these! Reading is one of the best ways to teach a child, especially when the book is fun and engaging. It is so crucial to teach children about feelings and how to express them, and these books can definitely help with that.

  3. Wow, it makes me wish these 6 books were around when I was a child! Mental health is becoming more and more of an issue today especially since it seems that mental health issues are happening at younger ages. Having books on a child’s level about these kinds of issues is great! I know some kids, especially in my church who have ADHD and I think the Wiggle Fidgets would be a great book for them. Thank you for sharing this list of children’s books.

    • I agree! I wish I had these when I was a kid, too. Mental health is becoming a much bigger issue, and, with the increasing pressure put on children, it is affecting younger and younger people.

      I absolutely love the Wiggle Fidgets book. It’s so fun and funny but it also teaches kids how to control their bodies and minds, which is a fantastic skill for all kids to have.

      I hope the kids in your church enjoy the book and find some relief for their wiggle fidgets!

  4. Wow, what a great subject, difficult, but great.  As a parent, who has experience with a troubled child, I can tell you that it is not easy.  You want to fix things, but emotional struggles are a complicated subject.  I found that, having open and honest conversations with your child (or adults for that matter) is a major part of the healing process.

    The books you have recommended are a great way to initiate such a conversation. And as you mentioned, teaching the child that he or she is not alone will help them tremendously.  Thank you for the suggestions.

    • I myself was a troubled child and I know it was very difficult for both myself and my parents. When I was growing up, it wasn’t the norm to discuss mental health with kids, so I felt very alone and confused. I’m so glad to hear that you are engaging in open and honest discussions with your child. You’re right, it is a huge part of healing.

  5. My best friends has a child that is shy and he don’t want to open to his parents when it comes to feelings. He would be so quiet and his mom have no idea what is the problem. I found those books very helpful but I especially like Jamie Lee Curtis book. She is great actress and writer so I think that her book will help a lot.

    • When it comes to shy children that are hesitant to share their feelings, the best thing a parent can do is create an open environment where talking about feelings is normal. If the parents talk to each other about their feelings and talk to their child about their feelings, their child will eventually learn how to reciprocate.

      I also really love the Jamie Lee Curtis book because, a lot of the time, kids don’t talk about their feelings because they aren’t sure what they’re feeling. Giving them words for what they are feeling is one of the best gifts we can give a child.

      I’m glad you found this post helpful and I hope your best friend finds it useful as well!

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