Mental health books for children
Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival
This book beautifully captures the story of a girl, Ruby, and her worry. It helps kids understand their mental illness better and guides them on what to do when worrying and anxiety becomes a part of your life. Ruby is a happy, curious and imaginative girl who discovers one day something unexpected, something that bothers her –– a Worry. Her worry grows larger with time and it gets difficult to understand it until she befriends a young boy with the same problem. On discussing her problem with him, she realises that it is natural to worry about things. This story will help young children to discover their hidden anxieties, to talk about them and teach them to deal with them.
My Little Book of Big Questions by Britta Teckentrup
As children, it is normal to have questions –– questions which don’t even have answers. In this book, we see a young girl standing on a chair to see what it’s like to be tall. A boy gazes towards the sky with innumerable thoughts. Flipping through the pages of this thought-provoking book, kids will get an opportunity to expand their thinking and get answers to life’s big questions, which often crowd around their minds.
The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
This is the story of 12-year-old Matthew Corbin and his trials and tribulations in fighting his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The book will help middle-grade children discover OCD in a more informed manner. Matthew stays at home and hasn’t been to school for weeks. His hands are bleeding because of excessive cleaning. Since he is at home all the time, Matthew observes his neighbours all the time. When a child next door goes missing, Matthew is the last person to see him alive. Helping people to find him also means exposing himself to the outer world and revealing his own secret. A story woven into a child’s sufferings will guide kids to deal with their own mental health problems and how to face the world with them.
Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
Calliope June, suffering from Tourette Syndrome, goes to a new school and tries to hide her quirks in this novel. However, her classmates soon realise there’s something different about her –– she involuntary makes faces and noises. This is a heart-aching story where Calliope has to deal with teasing until one of her friends actually tries to take a stand. Will her friend succeed? It will break your heart to see how Calliope deals with everyday bullying, but what emerges from it is her absolute strength. A truly inspiring and moving story of this girl for kids to understand the complexities of Tourette Syndrome.
What Were You Thinking? A Story About Learning to Control Your Impulses by Bryan Smith
When third-grader Braden’s impulsive reactions get out of control, it creates problems for his classmates and people around him. He makes jokes and acts without thinking. This results in Braden’s teacher and mother teaching him about impulsive control. The book is full of lessons from adults for kids on how to deal with their impulses. The story will not only help kids to recognise their own impulses but also teach them how to act on them wisely.
Grow Happy by Jon Lasser
This picture book beautifully illustrates the story of a young girl Kiko who grows plants and takes care of them. This cute story has a number of lessons in store for kids. The book is based on positive psychology and choice theory where it shows Kiko nurturing her plants with fertiliser, soil and water, much akin to her mental health that leads to happiness. The book is filled with problem-solving methods and lessons on how to be happy –– apt for kids who struggle to be happy.
Dear Girl: A Celebration of Wonderful, Smart, Beautiful You! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal
For all those children dealing with low self-esteem, this book is apt. It takes you through a mother-daughter relationship where young girls can learn to love the way they are. It is a gentle reminder for all those kids lacking self-confidence that they are powerful, strong and hold a valuable place in the world. Young girls can read this book and get encouraged to overcome their low self-esteem.
Focused by Alyson Gerber
Seventh-grader Clea is unable to concentrate on her work. She has to complete her homework but every time she tries, she feels distracted. A problem which she faces not just in school but also while she is playing games with her friends — she can’t seem to understand her lack of focus. After failing too many school tests, she is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children with similar diagnosis can learn a lot from this book. Having ADHD doesn’t mean that you’re broken. Clea teaches everyone how to remain focused despite the challenges.
Death Is Stupid by Anastasia Higginbotham
When a child loses a close person, their mind becomes a rollercoaster of emotions, with innumerable questions, affecting their mental health. This book revolves around the grief of loss. Helpful for children dealing with this irreparable loss, Death Is Stupid talks about mourning and how confusing death can be. A young boy deals with the reality of loss in this story written in simple text and accompanied by pictures, making it easy for children to understand. Anastasia has been honest and upfront in this book, making children ready for the real talks.
Tom’s Tears by Teigan Margetts
This story is a must-read, especially for young boys. It all begins when young Tom falls down while skateboarding. His friend, Oliver, goes to comfort him but realises that Tom isn’t crying. This book is an example of how society talks to children about their emotions and gender roles. Tom, even if he should be crying, has lost his tears and the reason is moving. The book shows that it is okay to cry, irrespective of gender. You don’t have to be tough to be considered a ‘real man’.