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Hi there! I’m Christina, a mom of two littles, a licensed mental health therapist, and a soon-to-be children’s book author! Thanks for checking out my site. Look around! I’m sure there’s something here for you! May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And so, I am sharing 10 of my favorite children’s books with mental health themes that you will want in your home library!

Reading to your children is one of the best things you can do with them. It is an easy and fun way to bond and connect, open their eyes, and teach them valuable life lessons.

As you read, children take in the book’s words and images. They are transported into the world of the story and take in the messages in an indirect, safe way.

I’ve curated this list of 11 highly recommended children’s books with social-emotional and mental health themes. They are written by hard working authors who strive to support the next generation of children. These authors want your kids to have rich and fulfilling lives driven by positive and robust mental health.

Enjoy!

11 Children’s Books with Mental Health Themes

1) The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

I have used this book pretty much since I started providing therapy to children. It’s just such a good one! Teach your child the basics of feelings. You will help your child identify what feelings are called and what they look like in yourself and others.

This book is “praised by parents, who say it’s especially valuable when getting children to talk about the day’s triumphs and troubles, and by professionals, who use it in pediatric clinics and with the developmentally disabled and emotionally troubled.” I concur!

Synopsis:
“Feelings are neither good nor bad, they simply are. Kids need words to name their feelings, just as they need words to name all things in their world. The Way I Feel uses strong, colorful, and expressive images which go along with simple verses to help children connect the word and the emotion. Your child will learn useful words, and you will have many chances to open conversations about what’s going on in her/his life.”

Meet the Author:
“In 1993, Janan had her first daughter, Emily, and stopped working full-time. Around the time her second daughter, Isabella, was two years old, Janan wanted to teach them words for their emotions but couldn’t find any good books for young children dealing with that topic. Being an illustrator, she decided to create her own book and the idea for The Way I Feel was born. The Way I Feel is among the best-selling children’s picture books of all time winning numerous awards and accolades.”

Get your copy:
You can nab your copy of The Way I Feel on Amazon!


2) Thank You Body, Thank You Heart by Jennifer Cohen Harper

Thank You Body, Thank You Heart by Jennifer Cohen Harper

Jennifer has published many well-received books, workbooks, and card decks. But the book I want to highlight here is the one that introduced me to her: Thank You Body, Thank You Heart – A Gratitude and Self-Compassion Practice for Bedtime. I love it so much, I even wrote a review that you can read here!

Synopsis:
“Invite your child to explore the many reasons to be grateful for their own body in this engaging bedtime practice. Make this colorful and charming body-scan book a regular part of the nighttime routine, and help the children in your life establish greater self-awareness and self-compassion.

This book also includes helpful notes for caregivers, which explain how self-compassion and gratitude are powerful tools for well-being, leading to more peaceful sleep, better mornings and the cultivation of resilience for meeting life’s challenges.”

Making this sweet story even sweeter, the illustrator Karen Gilmour modeled the main characters after Jennifer’s daughters!

Meet the Author:
Jennifer Cohen Harper is a force to be reckoned with in the mindfulness and yoga world. She is an educator, public speaker, author, mother, who works to support all children and teens in the development of strong inner resources through the tools of yoga and mindfulness.

Her goal is to help kids, and those who care for them, thrive in the world regardless of circumstances, and navigate the many challenges they face with a sense of personal power and self-awareness.

Get your copy:
You can buy your copy of Jennifer’s book Thank You Body, Thank You Heart on Amazon, at the publisher’s website, or on Bookshop.org!


3) Calm and Peaceful Mindful Me by Andrea Dorn

Calm and Peaceful Mindful Me by Andrea Dorn, MSW

Synopsis:
In Calm and Peaceful Mindful Me – A Mindfulness How-To Guide for Toddlers and Kids, Andrea takes what could be a complicated topic and breaks it down into a simple process that will have the kids practicing while you’re reading aloud.

“The mindfulness how-to book you need to help your child have a calm and peaceful body and mind. In this fun and delightfully charming book, your child will follow a gender-neutral character through an easy-to-understand, step-by-step mindfulness practice.”

“Written and illustrated by a therapist (and mother), Andrea Dorn, MSW, this simple yet very intentionally written book introduces the concept of mindfulness with a first-person, mantra-like narrative that will help your child build greater awareness of their body and emotions.”

“Thoughtfully included for caregivers are:

  • Optional engagement questions to build connection and personalize the reading experience
  • Short child and caregiver meditations
  • Tips on how to help your child develop their mindfulness practice
  • Suggestions on how to best utilize this book!”

Meet the Author:
Andrea Dorn, MSW, LISW-CP is a mom, author, and clinical social worker with a background in music. She has combined both those passions in her rhythmic children’s book about mindfulness.

“The Mindful Steps series was created as a culmination of her interest and background in mindfulness, behavioral, and attachment theories. Andrea is dedicated to helping young minds and their families navigate the big and small changes that come with child development by encouraging mindfulness and emotional connection.”

Get your copy:
You can find Calm and Peaceful Mindful Me on Amazon, the publisher’s website or Bookshop.org!


4) Some Days I Flip My Lid by Kellie Bailey

Some Days I Flip My Lid by Kellie Bailey, MA, CCC-SLP MMT

This is another book from the publisher PESI Publishing. They are coming out with some amazing kids books with mental health themes. And I’m not just saying that because they are publishing my children’s book series! 🙂

Synopsis:
Some Days I Flip My Lid follows third-grader Max as he develops self-awareness of his emotions by learning Mindfulness techniques called MINDFUL BREATHING and BREATHING ON PURPOSE.”

“At school, on the playground and at home, Max develops skills not to flip his lid when he is scared, worried, sad or upset. A colorful and delightful story for the classroom, at bedtime or whenever your child needs a mindful reminder to be a calm, cool kid.”

“BONUS material for educators, parents and caregivers includes step-by-step instructions for teaching Mindful Breathing.”

Meet the Author:
“Kellie Doyle Bailey, MA, CCC-SLP, MMT, is the proud mother of Hannah and Doyle who have been her best life teachers. She is a veteran speech-language pathologist of 28 years and a certified mindfulness meditation teacher. Kellie works in public schools in Mid Coast Maine Collaborating with K-8 grade educators to help children learn how to be Calm, Cool Kids. She teaches mindfulness in education at The University of Maine in Farmington and provides workshops and trainings across Maine. She lives in Northport, Maine with her husband Bruce.”

Get your copy:
Grab your copy of Some Days I Flip My Lid on Amazon!


5) Should I Say Hi? by Rose Collins

Children's book with mental health themes; Should I Say Hi? by Rose Collins
Should I Say Hi? by Rose Collins

Synopsis:
Children are often affected by anxiety around social situations, and that is true even more now as we all emerge from a year of social distancing and closed schools. Rose Collins’s book Should I Say Hi? takes children through the main character’s process of finding courage. You empathize with the main character as you read the book both forward and backward!

Rose was kind enough to send me a signed copy a month ago, and I loved it so much that I wrote a book review!

Meet the Author:
Rose Collins is the mother of a 5-year-old and a writer. She has a degree in journalism, she’s an award winning art-director, and her passion lies in writing!

Get your copy:
Should I Say Hi? is sold exclusively at TwoTaleBooks.com!


6) Recipe for Disaster (part of the Fairytale Fraud Series) by Katie Pye

Recipe for Disaster by Katie Pye

This is one of several books in the Fairytale Fraud series by Katie Pye. In this series Katie reimagines common fairytales with social-emotional wellbeing themes. Her stories are a great resource for parents everywhere!

In Recipe for Disaster, we learn the story of asking for help when we need it.

Synopsis:
The Little Red Hen is in a flap! An unexpected visitor is coming to Red Hen’s Bakery and she is desperate to impress him. Racing against time, she discovers she has no flour! Can she still deliver her delicious morsels all by herself?

Recipe for Disaster is a delightful Little Red Hen retelling that encourages readers to ask for help when they need it.

The book includes engaging ‘Behind the Scenes’ extras, with inspiring ideas to teach children to give and receive help.

Meet the Author:
Katie Pye is a New Zealand-based author with a daft sense of humour and an uncanny ability to make anything rhyme. Katie’s books are delightful, but they aren’t just that.

Katie’s goal is to provide families fun memory hooks into strong resilient thinking, including her own young family! Each Fairytale Fraud highlights a well-being theme without compromising coming across preachy.

With solid 5 star reviews, the books are being described by children, parents, teachers, librarians, and even psychologists as: – ‘something unique’, ‘completely awesome’, ‘great resource’, ‘playful humor’, ‘spot on’, ‘unexpected twists’, ‘delightful pictures’, and ‘highly entertaining’.

Get your copy:
You can find the entire Fairytale Fraud series on this page on Amazon, on Katie’s website FairytaleFraud.com, on Facebook, and on Instagram!


7) Wee Bees and the Bee Attitudes by Marcia Papa

Wee Bees and the Bee Attitudes by Marcia Elizabeth Papa

Synopsis:
Wee Bees and The Bee Attitudes is a wonderful teaching tool for parents, teachers and caregivers. It helps children learn how to regulate their emotions and use their “good attitudes” on a daily basis; both at home and at school.

With adorable and relatable characters, everyone is sure to fall in love with Wee Bees!

Meet the Author:
Marcia Papa is an Early Childhood Educator and Montessori teacher, in additional to the Business Owner of Wee Bees Learning Centre. Most importantly she is a mother to two beautiful children and the wife to a very loving and supportive husband. She aims to write books that offer valuable lessons to young children and encourage them to grow into kind, caring, and empathetic individuals. She loves teaching, reading, writing, playing all kinds of sports, swimming, dancing, baking and just being with her family!

Get your copy:
You can get your copy on Amazon and you can follow along with the Wee Bees on Facebook and Instagram.


8) Henrietta’s Thistleberry Boots by Laura Anderson Kirby

Henrietta’s Thistleberry Boots by Dr. Laura Anderson Kirby — Available May 31st!

This book, although not out just yet (launch date: May 31st!), is one I’m super excited about! Not only do I think this book with mental health themes is going to be wonderful, but author Laura’s IG account has such helpful and informative posts!

Synopsis:
Henrietta loves routines, and she loves school. Every night before going to bed, she dances bare-pawed in her front yard, packs her backpack for the morning, brushes her teeth, and tucks her stuffed animals into bed.

But when poisonous thistleberries start falling in the forest and Henrietta is forced to stay home from school for a whole year, many of her beloved routines are disrupted.

Henrietta must learn how to be flexible when confronted with change.

Henrietta’s Thistleberry Boots is a picture book meant to share at home or in the classroom. Children, parents, and teachers will all relate to the powerful emotions evoked by change and the unknown. The themes in this story—adjustment, patience, and courage—will inspire children to be resilient when confronted with life’s challenges.

Meet the Author:
Laura Anderson Kirby, Ph.D. is a children’s book author inspired by her work as child clinical psychologist and her experience raising two young, spirited children. Laura’s passion is to promote mental health themes and social emotional learning through her writing, to help spirited and neurodiverse children feel understood, and to inspire societal acceptance of all kinds of people—because the world needs them!

Get your copy:
Follow along with Hentrietta’s Thistleberry Boots as nears it’s launch date on 5/31/2021 on Instagram!


9) Bentley the Hippo by Argyro Graphy

the adventures of bentley the hippo; children's books with mental health themes
Bentley the Hippo by Argyro Graphy

Synopsis:
There’s a knock at the door. Jaxon, an excited monkey with ADHD, rambles on not making any sense. Racing ahead pointing in the distance Bentley Hippo follows this silly monkey.

A large crowd has gathered making it impossible for Jaxon to see what the fuss is all about. When he sprints to the front of the line, Jaxon is stopped by the ticket agent, and directed back to the back. Frustrated, Jaxon looks around waiting for the right moment. Determined, he makes a mad dash. Bentley has his hands full with this hyperactive monkey.

The illustrations and expressions will have you giggling in this entertaining and educational story.

Meet the Author:
Argyro Graphy was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Knowing firsthand the scars and effects of bullying, she was determined to find a way to teach children that, although some find bullying funny, the long-term effects could be quite damaging if not addressed early on. And so she created Bentley the Hippo.

Bentley’s mission is to inspire children to do better, be kinder, accept and respect each other, and to lend a hand to those in need. In fact all Argyro’s characters have some challenge they face such as Autism, Diabetes & Kidney Disease, Vision Impairment, ADHD and Alopecia.

Get your copy:
In addition to Amazon, you can find Bentley the Hippo at BentleyTheHippo.com, on Twitter, on on Instagram and Facebook.


10) Kippi the Conqueror by Kady Oliker

book cover of Bed Bugs and Monster Hugs; children's books with mental health themes
Kippi the Conqueror – Bed Bugs and Monster Hugs by Kady Oliker

Synopsis:
A mysterious trail of snacks? A secret door in the floor? A dream machine?! With the help of a new friend who smiles, laughs, and snorts, Kippi learns how to deal with her fear of things that go bump in the night. Come with Kippi on her next adventure to conquer the world of nightmares and monsters under the bed.

Meet the Author:
Kady Oliker loves to craft stories. She has an affinity for having conversations with the characters that dance around her living room, and also enjoys eavesdropping when out at cafes. Her best, and possibly worst habit, has been putting unassuming family members and friends in her short stories.

When not writing, you can find her on the tennis court or traveling the world with her husband, who graciously shares their home with the fictitious people that run through the pages of her books.

Get your copy:
You can also find Kippi the Conqueror at KippiTheConqueror.com, and on Instagram and Facebook.


11) My Sister’s Super Skills by Lauren Mosback

My Sister’s Super Skills by Lauren Mosback

I love that mental health therapists wrote many of these books with mental health themes. My Sister’s Super Skills is no exception!

Synopsis:
My Sister’s Super Skills shares various social and emotional (SEL) skills by encouraging little readers to practice along as the book is being read. Each social-emotional “Super Skill” is connected to a familiar scenario and animal behavior that kids have fun practicing and learning!

David is having a rough day, but his emotions are no match for his older sister Lily, who swoops in to save the day with some super skills!

When Lily observes her brother feeling frustrated, sad, and irritable, she quickly shows him some useful tips and tricks to help him feel better. Will Lily’s super skills be enough to save the day?

Meet the Author:
Lauren Mosback is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Behavior Specialist in the state of Pennsylvania. She is also a multi-award-winning children’s book author. In both her counseling practice and children’s books, she helps children enhance their social and emotional learning and grow a healthy self-esteem.

Get your copy:
You can find My Sister’s Super Skills on Amazon, on Lauren’s website. And you can follow along with Lauren on Facebook and on her therapy Instagram and her book Instagram.


children's books with mental health themes

What other children’s books with mental health themes do you love? Comment below!

Christina Furnival

Christina is a mom to two wild and wonderful kiddos, a licensed psychotherapist (LPCC), the founder of her website ChristinaFurnival.com and therapeutic motherhood blog Real Life Mama, and a children's book author of a social/emotional wellbeing series, Capable Kiddos! She and her Scottish husband are raising their family in San Diego, where they love to hike, play soccer, cook, walk around the lake, and go to the beach.

30 thoughts on “11 Great Children’s Books with Mental Health Themes”

  1. This is great! Especially for parents with children learning at home with covid (as mine has been). A lot of times i have found my daughter simply didn’t know how to approach or deal with a lot of the feelings she has been having so these are a great place to address them.

    1. This year has been one like no other! That’s great that you are observant of your daughter and are wanting to support her navigate tough emotions. I hope you find a book or two in here that work for you!

  2. Emotional Health is very important to monitor. Children will surprise you with their resiliency. Don’t over helicopter worry too much, just be cognizant.

  3. We have a few of these and love them. I’m big on teaching my kids to I.D. their feelings, so we have a lot of books about that. And since discovering mindfulness, we have a lot of children’s books on mindfulness. There are a few in your list I haven’t checked out yet, so looking forward to those. I love the write up you included about the authors too!

  4. Awh i love these suggestions! while i do not have children, i will keep some of these books in mind for the future!

  5. SUch great options to choose from! I think it is so important to let our children know that you might not feel happy all of the time. I try to be honest with them if I’m having a bad day or just not feeling like myself.

  6. I wish I had known about some of these books when my daughter was younger! She suffers from anxiety, and is an avid reader. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for your comment Marianne. I’m sorry these weren’t around when you could’ve used them! Some of them though I feel like do stretch to older kiddos.

  7. This topic is so important – especially now with what a tough year we all (KIDS FOR SURE) have had.

  8. What a great collection of books! I love that there are so many options of there to help kids understand why they feel a certain way.

  9. i LOVE THIS SO MUCH! iT’S SO IMPORTANT TO HAVE GREAT READING AND LEARNING MATERIAL ON MENTAL HEALTH FOR OUR LITTLE ONES. tHANKS FOR SHARING. i’LL HAVE TO GET SOME OF THESE BOOKS FOR MY GRANDSON.

  10. What a great selection of books for kids! I’m so interested in several of these, for my granddaughter.

  11. Thanks so much for this list! My little one loves books so ones with a great message and can help them in so many ways! Exc to read them!

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