12 Kids Books to Read During Mental Health Awareness Month

mental health awareness month
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12 Kids Books to Read During Mental Health Awareness Month

As May approaches, we’re stepping into Mental Health Awareness Month. As mental health becomes more of a priority in our day-to-day lives as well as our children’s, it’s important that our kids are educated on such an important topic. Books will help them learn and become aware of their own mental health. We’ve created a list of 12 Kids Books to Read During Mental Health Month that will bring awareness and knowledge to all children in all different reading levels!

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Early Readers

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

Ages: 0-5 Years

This book uses strong and colorful images that are paired with simple verses that will help children connect with their emotions and inner thoughts. The Way I Feel advocates the positive expression of feelings and emotions. It’s important for kids to develop their social-emotional learning at a young age and this story builds empathy and resilience! 

B is for Breathe by Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd

Ages: 2-8 Years

The beautiful illustrations in this children’s book are a perfect way to get children to learn more about their own feelings and how to cope with them! As they read, they’ll be able to learn how to express their feelings in a healthy way as well as develop coping skills at a young age that could help them in the future. Throughout the book, kids will be able to see and choose from their favorite techniques of coping such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, art, writing and much more!

The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee

Ages: 4-8 Years

Awareness about mental health needs to start at a young age, and with this book, children will be able to relate and understand more about themselves through the boy in the pages. He has feelings so big that they glow from his cheeks and even spill out of his eyes! He experiences all kinds of extreme feelings but instead of coping with them, he stuffs them down. His journey will help kids realize that their feelings should be celebrated and talked about! It’s very relatable for any child, especially those that are anxious, sensitive, or experience extreme emotions. 

When Sadness is at Your Door by Eva Eland

Ages: 3-7 Years

While promoting mental health awareness, emotional literacy, and mindfulness, this story encourages kids to visualize the feeling of sadness as though it is a guest. The author gives this feeling a face, shape and even encourages kids to give it a name. This book helps kids distinguish their sadness from themselves while suggesting activities like sitting quietly or drawing with the guest. Learning how to view such feelings in a more positive mindset will help children cope with their emotions in a healthy way instead of producing anxiety-inducing notions.

Upper-Level Readers

Outsmarting Worry by Dawn Huebner

Ages: 9-12 Years

As kids get older, worrying can take form in their minds without them even being able to pinpoint it. If children aren’t aware of their anxiety, it can often lead them to create toxic cycles that keep their anxiety coming back. With this book, children will be able to learn about their worries and anxieties as well as a set of skills that will make it easier for them to overcome these emotions. It’s also a good way for you to open up discussions with your children about their mental health and how you can help them!

The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller

Ages: 8-12 Years

With her botanist mother suffering from depression, Natalie is certain that Cobalt Blue Orchids will inspire her mom to fall in love with life again! However, Natalie can’t do it alone. Her friends show her that talking about her problems and feelings is just as important as exposing a plant to the sun. Kids will be able to follow a journey of hope, love, and miracles while they navigate through difficult emotions and conversations that will prompt them to follow in Natalie’s example and journey.

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

Ages: 8-12 Years

Finley Hart is being sent to her grandparents’ house, whom she’s never met, for the summer. As she’s trying to ignore her parents, who pretend not to have any problems, she finds it hard to keep her head up most days. As she goes on her own adventure, Finley realizes that before she can help anyone or anything else, she must save herself first. This book presents mental illness in a gentle way where kids can relate and see their own feelings and thoughts in the character. It not only helps children find self-acceptance but it builds upon the idea that family always sticks together, through the good and bad.

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Ages: 9-12 Years

For children that struggle with anxiety, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, might be the perfect book to turn to! When Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning, her life changed forever. The incident gave her genius-level math skills, making her ready for college at just 12 years old. However, before she can go, she must attend one year of middle school! This story teaches children about pushing themselves out of their comfort zones as well as embracing what makes everyone individually different.

8th Grade and Young Adult Readers

A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen

Ages: 14-18 Years

This beautiful piece of writing brings out hope and light in a dark situation. Seventeen-year-old Ellie finds herself with no hope left. The day after she commits suicide, she finds herself in an out-of-body experience where she, as the spectator, experiences her life once more, shifting between past and present. This story examines the beautiful and terrible moments of life and the hope that exists even in the worst situations.

Miss You Love You Hate You Bye by Abby Sher

Ages: 14-18 Years

Zoe and Hannah (nicknamed Hank), have been best friends since elementary school. When Zoe’s parents divorce, Zoe begins to slip under her mental illness. It’s up to Hank to learn how to support her friend and help her through this difficult time in her life. The friendship and hardships portrayed in this story will resonate with young adults who are still finding themselves. This book focuses on friendship, mental health, and learning to put yourself first.

The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena

Ages: 13-18 Years

This story follows two teens who fall in love despite both dealing with hard lives. Malcolm lost his mother to cancer and Susan is the new girl who has to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence as well as face their divorce. Despite being so different, they both come together to help one another deal with the problems in their lives and overcome the adversities that are placed in front of them. This book advocates for being true to yourself and who you are as well as exemplifies the hardships of families.

Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins

Ages: 14-18 Years

Robin and Kat are two extremely different people who meet on a summer service trip to Kolkata. As they build a bond with one another, Kat realizes that justice and healing are tangled. They must heal from the pain of their pasts and look toward their futures for hope. A valuable lesson shines through the pages as you learn that you can’t rewind life and instead, you have to press play!