The topic of mental health has faced stigmatization for centuries. Even though progress has been made in destigmatizing mental health, many people still struggle to come to terms with its importance. Mental health affects everyone, and while adults may be able to recognize the status of their mental health and seek resources, children are left susceptible to dealing with the strains of their mental health alone, unaware of how to handle or manage their health. Parents may also be in a position where they can’t distinguish between typical children’s behavior and signs of their children really struggling. Well, Pine Reads Review has compiled a booklist of picture books that not only illustrate children’s mental health but provides strategies and resources for children and parents!
Written by Karamo Brown and Jason “Rachel” Brown and Illustrated by Diobelle Cerna
While going on a stroll, a father and son get caught in a storm, which evokes overwhelming feelings. This moment leads to a powerful conversation about feelings and how to identify, feel, and express them. Meant to empower children to not feel scared or ashamed of their feelings, I Am Okay to Feel is a powerful resource for both children and parents to help develop healthy coping techniques and nurture a child’s mental health.
I Am Okay to Feel releases on November 8th, 2022.
Written by Jasmin S. Searcy-Pate and Illustrated by Anita DuFalla
Olivia experiences a whole array of overwhelming feelings during the week of tryouts for the school play. These overwhelming feelings and thoughts are caused by a variety of factors, including a medical illness diagnosis. Soon, Olivia learns how to recognize and articulate these emotions, so that instead of feeling debilitated, she feels stronger. Thanks to the support of everyone around her, Olivia finds herself once again in control of her body and mind.
Written by a licensed child/pediatric psychologist, this book is a great resource to teach children how to recognize these feelings and understand them so they can continue to take care of their minds and bodies.
Written by Erin Winters and Illustrated by Kaitin Bucher
One day, a donut goes to therapy. He struggles to handle his big emotions and is scared of what therapy has in store for him. However, once he meets the therapist, he learns that a therapist is there to help you understand and manage your feelings. He is taken into a room filled with toys where he can play and draw and not have to talk about his feelings if he doesn’t want to. The donut realizes that therapy isn’t scary. With the help of the therapist and those who love him, he can handle his big emotions and take on the world!
When A Donut Goes to Therapy illustrates the effectiveness of play therapy while also providing a resource for children to learn how to identify their feelings. As a licensed professional counselor, Winters weaves her knowledge of therapeutic techniques into an engaging rhythmic narrative that children can use to support their mental health.
Check out our review of When A Donut Goes to Therapy here.
Written by Julia Noble Sivarajah
This picture book, written from the perspective of a child, explores the different types of feelings that children can experience. There are positive feelings like joy, happiness, and excitement as well as negative feelings like fear, sadness, and anger. The anxieties that can come from having these tough feelings can be overwhelming, but this book shows that having these tough feelings is completely normal.
As a registered psychotherapist, Sivarajah creates an interactive picture book that integrates therapeutic techniques that helps children to take care of their mental health.
Written by Nadiya Hussain and Illustrated by Ella Bailey
My Monster and Me is a story about a boy and his worry monster. His worry monster follows him everywhere he goes, whether he’s out with friends or playing by himself. With the worry monster always behind him, the little boy feels that he can never escape its constant presence. This book takes a metaphoric approach to anxiety and validates the worries that children endure. Inspired by her own struggles with anxiety as a child, Hussain hopes to create a voice for children who have yet to learn how to vocalize their mental struggles.
Written by Natalie Rompella and Illustrated by Alessia Girasole
Malik’s brain works differently than other children’s. Diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, his brain makes him perform tasks in intervals of four. When he gets invited to a minigolf birthday party, he is ecstatic, that is, until his “Number Thoughts” overwhelm his mind. What if his “Number Thoughts” prevent him from having fun at the party? If his brain makes him play golf in intervals of four, what if the others start to make fun of him? Well, he is determined to figure out a way to manage his “Number Thoughts.”
This picture book navigates the struggles that come with OCD, especially for a child. Through determination, one can find a way to manage their mental health conditions and not let them control their life, just like Malik.
Written by Barbara Esham and Illustrated by Mike Gordon
David struggles immensely to pay attention in class, which gets him in trouble a lot with his teachers. Even though he wishes to pay attention, his head is constantly filled with so many thoughts that he doesn’t realize he’s causing a disturbance. His wiggle fidgets get the better of him every time, but when he ends up making a really big mistake one day, David is soon determined to find a way to get these wiggle fidgets under control.
This book illustrates how attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may present in children and how children with ADHD can develop techniques to manage their impulses and overcome challenges, especially regarding their attention spans.
Written by Merriam Sarcia Saunders and Illustrated by Tammie Lyon
Charlie constantly struggles to settle down or remain in place. As he explains, he always feels like he has a whirling, twirling motor inside that never turns off. One day, his Mom pulls him aside. Afraid he’s about to get scolded, he is surprised to hear what she has to say. Charlie soon learns that he shouldn’t feel ashamed about the whirling, twirling motor inside of him, but, rather, focus on the positives that this side of him creates.
Not only does this picture book provide resources on ADHD and management techniques, but it also promotes the idea that children who have ADHD should not view themselves as broken, but as special.
PRR Writer, Tereza Rascon