44 Children’s Books That Help Kids Understand Mental Health

This book helps children understand grief and loss. 35. One Wave at a Time: A Story About Grief and Healing There are a lot of different… Trista - September 1, 2019

Raising children is probably one of the most difficult tasks you will ever encounter. Even if you don’t have children of your own, you most likely have a friend or family member who does. Of course, you want what is best for them, and reading children’s books is fundamental!

However, beyond the magical unicorns and best friends books, you really want to educate your children about mental health. From ADHD and autism to bullies and trauma, there are a number of helpful children’s books that can assist you in teaching your kids about their emotions and so much more.



This book helps children to understand body safety.

1. I Said No! A Kid-to-Kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private

If you have children or there are children in your life that are important to you, you are probably concerned about body safety. You can’t always be around to protect them from predators, so they have to develop skills to protect their own bodies.

I Said No! takes a kid-friendly approach to developing appropriate boundaries and body-safety awareness. It was written by a little boy and his mom following a real-life situation. Without dumbing down the issues involved, it uses non-icky language to help address the issues at stake.


This book helps older children learn about OCD.

2. OCDaniel

More kids deal with OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, than we would like to admit. While helping children with OCD can be a daunting task for adults, assisting children to understand the condition is a necessary component of building resilience and community.

OCDaniel is a chapter book for older children about a boy named Daniel, whose life is consumed by hiding his OCD from others. He is a nobody at school until a new girl, nicknamed Psycho Sara, notices both him and his peculiarities. They set off on a mystery in which they find the importance of having someone who understands.


This book helps children cope with emotions.

3. When Sophie Gets Angry — Really, Really Angry…

Anger is an unpleasant emotion. Teaching kids how to handle it can be a daunting task when the adults in their lives don’t know how to manage their own anger. Anger is not a bad emotion, but it is certainly an unpleasant one that can make anybody feel out of control.

In this book, Sophie feels that she will explode when her sister takes her beloved stuffed animal. She has a full-blown temper tantrum, but spending time outside helps her calm down. This book helps normalize anger and show kids that they can develop strategies to alleviate it.


This book helps children learn about autism.

4. A Whole New Ballgame: A Rip and Red Book

Best friends Rip and Red are thrown off-guard by their fifth-grade teacher and basketball coach, Mr. Acevedo. He likes assigning crazy projects and doesn’t believe in tests or homework, making him seem like the “cool” teacher. However, Red has autism and is unable to cope with a life that lacks routine and order, so Mr. Acevedo is a bit too much for him.

Together, Rip and Red navigate the challenges of fifth grade and their unexpected teacher. For a child in upper elementary or middle school, this book will be a heart-warming tale of friendship and sports.


This book helps children deal with anxiety and develop strategies to overcome it.

5. Don’t Feed the Worry Bug

This book is part of the Worry Woo series by author Andi Green. Wince, who is the monster of worries, is bothered by the pesky worry bug, a pest that many adults, as well as children, can relate to. As the worry bug grows and grows and grows, Wince realizes that he has to do something to make it go away.

This book can help young children, from the age of three years old, understand anxiety, a mental health concern that is often overlooked but can be debilitating for both children and adults. By developing strategies to cope with stress early on, children will be better prepared for a life of success.


This book helps children to understand grief and loss.

6. Art With Heart Presents: Draw It Out

Art therapy has long been used to help children process traumatic situations that they may be unable to process verbally. Art With Heart Presents: Draw It Out is a 40-page activity book that is designed to help children between the ages of six and ten process the challenging experiences in their lives.

Activities include the opportunity to create a “circle of strength” and a “certificate of courage.” This book is affirming of the complicated and often unpleasant emotions that children must navigate when dealing with grief and loss.


This book helps children learn about autism.

7. A Boy Called Bat

This charming book, at first glance, appears to be a heart-warming tale about a little boy who wants a pet. Bixby, who goes by Bat, has a mother who is a veterinarian. One day, she brings home a skunk, which Bat decides that he wants for a pet.

Scattered throughout the book, though, are references that children with autism will relate to — clothes that itch, the need for solid routines, and not having friends that are children. By making the autism experience secondary to Bat’s everyday life, the book helps normalize autism and autistic children. This book is part of a series about the little boy, Bat, and how he gets through everyday life.


This book helps children to understand ADHD.

8. Why Can’t Jimmy Sit Still?

ADHD, or attention deficit and hyperactive disorder, is a challenging condition to live with. Children become frustrated because they can’t sit still, and the adults in their lives become frustrated because the children are frequently disruptive. This book helps explain ADHD from the perspective of a little boy who cannot sit still.

Jimmy’s mother describes him as a motor that is stuck in high gear and cannot turn off. She takes him to a doctor, and together, they develop a plan to help Jimmy gain control of his behavior and make better choices. This book helps empower children and families dealing with ADHD to take control of their lives.


This book helps children learn about OCD.

9. Up and Down the Worry Hill: A Children’s Book About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Its Treatment

This book helps teach children about OCD, a disorder that is usually associated with high levels of anxiety. Casey is a little boy whose life is debilitated with OCD. The author uses the metaphor of Worry Hill to help explain his experiences with the illness, his treatment, and overcoming of it.

Up and Down the Worry Hill also has a companion book for parents and caregivers, What To Do When Your Child Has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The author recommends that while going through the book with the child, the parents and caregivers go through the companion book.


This book helps children to understand their feelings.

10. Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too)

In a culture rife with the toxic masculinity that disables both males and females, this book shows that everyone has emotions – ninjas, superheroes, knights, wrestlers, and even daddies. Even superheroes get sad, so it’s okay if boys and even daddies get sad sometimes, too. This book helps boys develop healthy emotions and ways of dealing with sadness.

This book can be a great companion for conversations between parents and children about feelings and how to process them. It can help boys understand that it’s okay if they cry sometimes and help parents learn how to improve their boys through experiences of sadness.


This book helps children learn about OCD.

11. Mr. Worry: A Story About OCD

This book, which is designed for children ages four through eight, can help young children understand OCD and its debilitating effects. It can also help parents and caregivers explain to children what OCD is and why it is affecting their children the way that it does.

Kevin is a little boy whose life is dominated by OCD. Every night, before he can go to sleep, he has to follow a routine that doesn’t seem to make sense. He has to check under his bed for a light that isn’t there. A minute later, he has to check again. He also has to ask his mom the same question repeatedly. By the end of the book, Kevin’s OCD has improved, thanks to medication and therapy.


This book helps children cope with anxiety and develop strategies to overcome it.

12. Hector’s Favorite Place

Anyone who has struggled with anxiety understands how it can quickly pervade every aspect of life and negatively impact your well-being. Children are not exempt from its harmful effects, but discussing it with them can be challenging, as they understand it differently.

Hector’s Favorite Place is a book that helps children understand anxiety through the eyes of Hector, a hedgehog who prefers to stay home instead of going out and playing with his friends. He is consumed with worrying thoughts, like what if he falls and embarrasses himself. However, when he is invited to a special party, he decides to be brave.


This book helps children understand bullying.

13. Am I a Bully?

Children often cannot reflect on their own actions and determine whether they are hurting other people. Some children may be bullying other children at school and not even realize it; were they to realize how harmful their actions were, they would stop.

This book helps children reflect on their own actions and how they may be affecting other people, including their friends. It does so through the eyes of Toby, a little boy who enjoys making his friends laugh. Since he only makes fun of other people and doesn’t actually beat them up, he doesn’t think he is actually a bully. However, is he?


This book helps children with self-esteem.

14. What I Like About Me!

This book about being different has long been a staple in classrooms of young children. While society may praise and reward people who fit in and are the same as each other, this book celebrates children who are different and stand out.

All of the children in the book are different. Some have braces, and some have glasses. They all have something that makes them unique, and they love the things that make them different. A child with big feet wouldn’t trade them for free video games for the rest of his life. On the last page is a foil mirror so children can look at themselves and appreciate what makes them different.


This book helps children deal with grief and loss.

15. I Miss You: A First Look at Death

This book, written by a psychotherapist and counselor, helps children as young as four years older understand death in a way that is healthy and age-appropriate. It is part of a more extensive series by the same author on helping children deal with complicated emotions and developing the resilience that they need to thrive.

This book doesn’t just tell a story; it includes exercises and prompts that ask children how they feel about the emotions that they are experiencing. It helps to normalize the feelings that people, particularly children, have about death.


This book helps children understand autism.

16. Armond Goes to a Party: A Book About Asperger’s and Friendship

Children who have Asperger’s often seem like they are just socially awkward. However, Asperger’s is on the autism spectrum, and they experience many of the same symptoms as children with more intense forms of autism, just to a smaller degree.

Armond Goes to a Party is about a little boy with Asperger’s who don’t want to go to a party because of the sensory overload that can happen. He decides to go, and with the support of his friend Felicia, he is able actually to enjoy himself.


This book helps older children understand depression.

17. My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope

Actress Diane Guerrero, who stars in the series Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, wrote this chapter book to chronicle her experiences when her parents were deported while she was at school. She left school to find her world, which revolved around her loving family, turned upside-down.

This book is a memoir that tells a story that many immigrant children will be able to relate to. It is also highly relevant for children who have experienced loss, especially loss that comes with family separation.


This book helps children cope with anxiety and develop strategies to overcome it.

18. What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety

Adults have plenty of self-help books about how to deal with the struggles and pressures of daily life, which can result in mental health issues, such as anxiety. Children can experience many of the same mental health issues, but they need their own “kid-friendly” self-help guide to help them navigate them.

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety compares worries to tomatoes. Both worries and tomatoes don’t need your constant attention in order to grow; they need you to look at them every day. This book can help children develop the strategies that they need to keep their worry tomatoes under control.


This book helps children understand trauma.

19. The War That Saved My Life

This chapter book is written for middle-grade children and can help them understand trauma. It tells the story of Ada, a 10-year-old girl who, during World War II, is crippled by both a lame foot and a mother who is too ashamed of her to allow her to go outside.

Because of the war, Ada and her brother go to the countryside, where they are taken in by a kind woman named Susan. Ada feels encouraged to begin living life outdoors, including learning to ride horses and read. She overcomes great personal tragedy and trauma to learn to thrive in the midst of difficult circumstances.


This book helps children to understand emotions.

20. My Many Colored Days

The beloved Dr. Seuss wrote this book with the intention of finding a brilliant illustrator who would use colors to accompany the text’s descriptions of emotions. The book uses vibrant colors and images of animals to help describe the different feelings that all people can experience throughout their daily lives.

This book appeals to children as young as three years old, but it is just as relevant for adults in any stage of life. It helps to normalize the complicated emotions that people can experience and help them process those emotions in a healthy and meaningful way.


This book helps older children to understand OCD.

21. Finding Perfect

This chapter book is about a 12-year-old girl, Molly, whose perfect world – which consists of sharpened #2 pencils and the number four – is shattered when her mother leaves her and her father. As Molly hatches a plan to bring her mother back, she begins developing symptoms of OCD.

Molly’s father finally took her to a doctor when she became so fixated on counting everything that her life came to a standstill. He diagnosed her with OCD, and she began developing a plan to overcome her diagnosis while accepting that life will never be perfect.


This book helps children understand bullying.

22. Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum is a timeless story that many parents may remember from when they were children. It tells the story of a little girl named Chrysanthemum whose classmates make fun of her because she has the same name as a flower. Through charming illustrations and a heart-warming story, children learn about the harmful effects of bullying.

Ultimately, Chrysanthemum finds deliverance in a teacher, who has a similar name. Everyone decides that Chrysanthemum is a beautiful name, and Chrysanthemum decides that she likes her name, too. This book for young children will help them understand bullying, teasing, and self-esteem.


This book helps children understand dyslexia.

23. Back to Front and Upside Down!

Dyslexia is a challenging diagnosis that can cause severe learning delays for children. Some may have a hard time explaining to their friends why they are slow at reading, and some may be so ashamed that they don’t want anybody to know that they have dyslexia.

Back to Front and Upside Down! helps to normalize dyslexia by telling the story of a fox named Stan, who has trouble writing letters the right way. He doesn’t ask for help, because he is afraid that the other kids will tease him. However, when he does, he can develop the skills he needs to succeed.


This book helps children understand selective mutism.

24. Lola’s Words Disappeared

Lola’s Words Disappeared is a book about a little girl named Lola who, upon beginning the school year, finds that the words she intends to say are not coming out. She has developed selective mutism, a condition that is often associated with anxiety. She has to find a way to give her words the courage that they need to come back.

This book is designed with activities to help children with anxiety, specifically with selective mutism, find courage in challenging situations. It was written with the help of an early childhood psychologist and is part of a series on anxiety management and reduction.


This book helps children to understand depression.

25. Can I Catch It Like a Cold? Coping With a Parent’s Depression

Parents are the people who usually are there to help a child navigate complex emotions. But when a parent falls prey to depression, he or she is not only unable to help the child; the child experiences new and challenging emotions about the changed parent-child relationship.

Can I Catch It Like a Cold? Coping With a Parent’s Depression tells the story of Alex, a boy whose father developed depression while serving as a police officer. Alex has many questions concerning the adult-sized problems that he now has to face. The book helps explain depression in a way that kids can understand and can be beneficial for children working with a professional therapist.


This book helps children understand grief and loss.

26. The Invisible String

The Invisible String is a heart-warming story that is relevant for not only children but also adults of all ages. It begins with a mother telling her children that all people are connected, especially to those that they love, by an invisible string that creates ties that bind.

This book, which will become a classic for any child or adult that has ever felt the pain of loss, helps children to understand that even when those that they love are not with them, they are never really alone. The ties that bind never really go away.


This book helps children learn about ADHD.

27. I Can’t Sit Still! Living With ADHD

ADHD is one of the most common mental health diagnoses for children, and it can cause an array of learning problems. Children with ADHD can be left out by their friends because of their impulsive behavior and excessive energy. Books about ADHD help normalize the diagnosis that these children must learn to cope with.

I Can’t Sit Still: Living with ADHD encourages children who have ADHD with the story of a little boy who is mistakenly labeled as unruly and disruptive. However, with the help of his parents, teacher, and doctor, he can develop strategies to cope with ADHD.


This book helps children understand dyslexia.

28. Fish in a Tree

Dyslexia can be a lifelong challenge for people who have it, and how they experience their diagnosis as children can have implications for their success all through life. Helping them normalize their diagnosis can lead to vast returns on their resilience and quality of life.

Fish in a Tree is a novel about a girl named Ally who has dyslexia but is smart enough to hide the fact that she cannot read. However, when she gets a new teacher, Mr. Daniels, he sees that beneath her dyslexia is a bright kid who has nothing to be ashamed of. With his encouragement, she develops the confidence to explore the world.


This book helps children understand bullying.

29. Wonder

Wonder is a short chapter book about a little boy whose extraordinary face has prevented him from going to a mainstream school until fifth grade. All he wants is to be treated like any other kid, but his extraordinary face is something that nobody can overlook.

The book tells a heart-warming story from multiple perspectives, including Auggie’s, the boy with an extraordinary face, and his classmates. Ultimately, it tells the tale of a community that comes together with empathy and understanding.


This book helps children deal with trauma.

30. A Terrible Thing Happened

When children experience trauma, they are often unable to talk about it, as adults may be encouraged to do. The adults in their lives may feel uncomfortable and encourage them to not talk about it. As such, trauma erodes their resilience and potential for success.

A Terrible Thing Happened is about Sherman, a raccoon who developed anxiety and anger after witnessing something awful. He didn’t want to talk about it, but his counselor helped him open up. In the end, he feels better.


This book helps older children understand sensory processing challenges.

31. Stanley Will Probably Be Fine

Stanley knows comic trivia better than anybody else, as his love of comics helps him feel safe in a world that can be disorienting. He entered Trivia Quest, where he can win some pretty great prizes and also overcome his anxiety.

This chapter book is excellent for middle-grade children who have sensory processing challenges or know someone who does. It will help those without sensory processing disorders develop empathy, and those with disorders realize that they have their own superpowers.


This book helps children understand anxiety and develop strategies to overcome it.

32. Pilar’s Worries

Not all children who struggle with anxiety have what could be considered an anxiety disorder. After all, anxiety is part of a standard range of emotions, and learning to deal with it when it arises is a normal part of developing emotional intelligence.

Pilar’s Worries is a picture book about a girl who loves ballet and is excited about a big ballet audition. But she begins to feel so anxious about the audition that her whole body hurts. She develops coping mechanisms and focuses on how much she loves ballet to get through the anxiety and nail her audition.


This book helps children who have experienced neglect.

33. Somebody Cares: A Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Neglect

Children who have experienced neglect have many challenges to overcome, and overcoming those challenges begins with learning to trust their new caregivers. While time and patience on the part of the caregiver, and therapy on the part of the child, are valuable, knowing that other children have experienced similar things can send a powerful message.

Somebody Cares: A Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Neglect is a book that can help kids in that situation know that they are not alone. It teaches them that they are brave for having endured so much and helps them understand the complicated feelings that they have to process.


This book helps children understand anxiety and develop strategies to overcome it.

34. The Fix-It Friends: Have No Fear!

The Fix-It Friends are a group of kids that come together with a mission to find a solution to the problems that kids face. In this book in the series, they help Maya, one of their classmates who don’t like recess because she is afraid of bugs.

This chapter book is ideal for elementary-age children to understand fear and anxiety and beings friends with people who are facing challenges. The book includes a toolbox of strategies that children can use to deal with their own fears and anxieties.


This book helps children understand grief and loss.

35. One Wave at a Time: A Story About Grief and Healing

There are a lot of different ways to understand grief. Metaphors are particularly helpful for children experiencing pain, and this book uses the metaphor of waves to help young children, as early as kindergarten, understand the complicated emotions associated with the loss of a loved one.

The book tells the story of Kai, whose father died. As he learns to live without his father, his emotions of fear, anger, sadness, guilt, and even apathy crash on him like waves. Sometimes they all become jumbled together and come in all at once. However, with support, he begins to heal.


This book helps children understand emotions.

36. In My Heart: A Book of Feelings

Children don’t need to have mental health challenges to develop emotional intelligence. Helping children navigate and understand their emotions can help ground them with resilience to face whatever difficulties they may encounter.

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings is part of a series that can help children as young as toddlers begin to understand their emotions. The book describes emotions using analogies and metaphors that young children can understand, as well as how those emotions can make them feel physically.


This book helps children understand bullying.

37. Tease Monster: A Book About Teasing vs. Bullying

When does teasing become bullying? Many children don’t know where to draw the line and understand when playful teasing becomes hurtful bullying. Tease Monster: A Book About Teasing vs. Bullying helps elementary-age kids understand the difference between the two.

Reading this book will help children understand the difference between friendly teasing and mean teasing. It will also help children develop strategies for responding to mean teasing, which is the same as bullying.


This book helps children to understand ADHD.

38. Cory Stories: A Kid’s Book About Living With ADHD

Cory is a little boy who shares different stories and vignettes about his life with ADHD. Sometimes he falls out of his chair, and his friends don’t always want to play with him. However, by following through with a treatment plan, he can develop strategies for overcoming his ADHD.

In this book, Cory describes how his ADHD affects many aspects of his daily life, from his relationships with his friends and family to his overall ability to function. It will help elementary-age children understand ADHD.


This book helps older children to understand Tourette’s Syndrome.

39. Forget Me Not

This chapter book for middle-grade children tells the story of Calliope, a girl with Tourette’s Syndrome and who recently moved to a new school. Despite her attempts to hide her TS, the kids realize that she makes faces and noises that she didn’t intend to make.

But Calliope’s neighbor, who is a popular kid at school, realizes that there is an extraordinary kid underneath the Tourette’s. Just as Calliope begins to make new friends, though, she may have to move yet again.


This book helps children understand identity.

40. Red: A Crayon’s Story

Identity is something that all kids, not just those who are LGBTQ+, struggle with on one level. It tells the story of Red, a blue crayon who has a red label. Everyone tries to make him red, as his label suggests, but no matter how many times he tries to draw strawberries, he cannot force himself to be red.

When he encounters a purple crayon, the purple crayon helps him understand that he is actually blue. This book is something that all kids will be able to relate to on some level, especially those who try to conform to what others expect them to be.


This book helps children understand anxiety and develop strategies to overcome it.

41. How Big Are Your Worries, Little Bear?

Even very young children can struggle with anxiety, just like Little Bear does in this book. He is especially afraid of making mistakes, just like many children are. However, when he talks about his worries with his mother, they get a lot smaller, and he can overcome them.

This book will help even young children understand that their worries are not as big as they think and that sometimes, talking to someone can help them go away. This book can be helpful for very young children, as young as three years old.


This book helps older children understand bullying.

42. Warp Speed

This novel, which is appropriate for middle-grade children, tells the story of Marley, who is starting another boring school year. However, the school year becomes a lot less boring when the biggest bully in the school targets him.

Bullying can cause severe adverse effects in adolescent children, but helping them to address the issue in an age-appropriate way can lead to strategies for dealing with bullies. It can also help them understand where their own behavior may be considered bullying.


This book helps children understand grief and loss.

43. When Dinosaurs Die

The wise dinosaurs, who have an entire series on helping kids deal with difficult issues such as divorce, are back in this book to help kids understand the process we go through when loved ones die.

This book, which is appropriate for children as young as preschool, answers many of the questions that children have about death. Parents and caregivers can read it with young children who are learning to navigate a profound loss so that they can begin to heal.


This book helps children to understand Tourette’s Syndrome.

44. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

This chapter book for middle-grade kids tells the story of Aven, a cactus which was born without any arms. However, instead of admitting that he was born without arms, he likes to invent wild stories about how he lost them.

When his family moves, he makes friends with Connor, a classmate who has Tourette’s Syndrome. The two partner together to solve a mystery. This book will help children understand that the things that make them different give them the abilities to do things that other kids may not be able to do. Most importantly, the two characters discover friendship in the midst of coping with their disabilities.