May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a month dedicated to bringing people together, improving mental health care nationwide, removing stigmas associated with mental illness, and advocating for those struggling with their mental health. But we think mental health is an important topic all year long! If you or someone you know is dealing with a mental health issue, it can feel isolating and confusing. We want young readers—and adult readers!—to know they are not alone. Sometimes taking a day to pick up a favorite book and take a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life can help. And other days, we need professional help. Either way, the world can be an overwhelming place and we owe it to ourselves to take care of ourselves. It’s ok to be selfish!
Whether they are personally struggling, or want to help others, we’ve put together a list of books that touch on mental illness, dealing with emotions, and working through feelings.
We urge all our readers to seek medical help immediately if you or someone you know is dealing with a mental health crisis.
by Todd Parr
Perfect for the youngest readers, Todd Parr uses his signature bright colors and simple text to let readers know that it’s ok to be nervous, anxious, or scared. Things will be ok! It’s ok to worry! Just know that things will work out in the end.
From bestselling and beloved author Todd Parr, a new book that reassures kids everywhere that even when things are scary or confusing, there’s always something comforting around the corner.
Todd Parr brings his trademark bright colors and bold lines to his new book about things that might make kids worry–from loud news, to loud neighbors, or a big day at school. With his signature humor and instantly recognizable style, Todd speaks out to kids who are feeling the weight of their world, offering solutions and comfort, as well as giggles.
Illustrated by Elizabeth Bergeland
This beautiful book illustrates that feeling when no one understands what you’re feeling. Sometimes the day is just really difficult, and you can’t pinpoint exactly why—and that’s ok! Hold on, understand that these feelings are normal, and with time we learn to deal with these emotions and work towards a new day.
This warm and tender story about being yourself–even when you’re sad, anxious, or feeling lonely–reminds readers that human connection is essential, tears can heal, and a new day is always coming.
Being Edie is hard today. No one understands. Not her mother. Not her teachers, or the kids at school. If only if she could be an animal! Edie’s imagination may be the perfect escape, but she can’t run from her feelings forever if she’s going to be comfortable in her own skin.
Author/illustrator team Ben Brashares and Elizabeth Bergeland offer an entirely original, wry, and poignant take on having a bad day–and trying again the next.
We might not personally be dealing with mental illness, but someone we love dearly might be, and that can also have an effect on us. This stunning book illustrates a family dealing with mental illness through many colors to reflect the many emotions they experience. It’s a powerful story and can be a way to create understanding and awareness for all ages.
An emotional and tender picture book that accessibly explores depression within a family, through the use of color.
I've always been my dad's little sunspot.
But one day, his world was no longer bright and yellow—it was a deep, dark blue.
As one father embarks on an emotional journey, his daughter will navigate life lived in and around his depression. Most days the sun won’t be able to peek through the clouds. But with each new wave of change, love will always bond them together.
This poignant and important story, with its use of color to indicate the ups and downs of one family's emotions, is an accessible way to discuss mental illness with young readers.
The entire Little Unicorn series is an accessible way to talk about emotions. We all have strong feelings, and Little Unicorn’s are reflected in his tale. Mental health encompasses so many different topics and we all deal with our feelings differently. Maybe a person’s anxiety causes them to be very angry one day, but very scared the next. Little Unicorn helps us all understand that no matter what our feelings are, they are valid, and we can handle them.
For fans of unicorns, Mr. Men, and Little Miss, this book in the Little Unicorn series about coping with strong feelings offers tools to manage anger and temper tantrums–and integrates a breathing exercise right into the story.
Little Unicorn’s rainbow-colored mane is magic–it shifts to a single color when he’s feeling a particularly strong emotion. It seems like a storm comes over him when he’s angry, and his mane turns bright red. But when he repeats a special three-step breathing exercise, the clouds clear and his rainbow returns–and if he ever feels angry again, he’ll know just what to do.
With simple, accessible artwork and the universal character appeal of unicorns, each Little Unicorn story allows children and caregivers to talk about and work through specific moods.
Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
The Invisible String, and its companion titles, present a reassuring message about connection, love, and inner strength. We all can get nervous, anxious, sad, or just overall upset. The Invisible String reminds us that we are all connected and no matter how far we might be from those we love, or however lost we might feel, we have an invisible string inside us that keeps us together. It’s comforting to remember in times of sorrow and times of joy.
With over a million copies sold, this accessible, bestselling picture book phenomenon about the unbreakable connections between loved ones has healed a generation of readers–children and adults alike–and has been updated with new illustrations and an afterword from the author.
Parents, educators, therapists, and social workers alike have declared The Invisible String the perfect tool for coping with all kinds of separation anxiety, loss, and grief. In this relatable and reassuring contemporary classic, a mother tells her two children that they're all connected by an invisible string. "That's impossible!" the children insist, but still they want to know more: "What kind of string?" The answer is the simple truth that binds us all: An Invisible String made of love. Even though you can't see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart, and know that you are always connected to the ones you love. Does everybody have an Invisible String? How far does it reach? Does it ever go away? This heartwarming picture book for all ages explores questions about the intangible yet unbreakable connections between us, and opens up deeper conversations about love.
Recommended and adopted by parenting blogs, bereavement support groups, hospice centers, foster care and social service agencies, military library services, church groups, and educators, The Invisible String offers a very simple approach to overcoming loneliness, separation, or loss with an imaginative twist that children easily understand and embrace, and delivers a particularly compelling message in today's uncertain times. This special paperback edition includes vibrant new illustrations and an introduction from the author.
by Ani Castillo
Sometimes we want to reach out to friends, acquaintances, or even try to make friends from strangers…but we don’t know how. This picture book helps us embrace connection and understand why it is important to put ourselves out there. We can reach out to people and people can reach out to us. While that might be scary at first, it’s helpful to remember how we’re all connected, and that working together to improve mental health care improves the whole world.
With the visual ingenuity of Press Here and the emotional resonance of What Do You Do with a Problem?, this wise and timely book about the fragile art of personal connection will strike a chord with children and adults alike.
In the era of social media, communication feels both more anxiety-producing, and more inescapable, than ever before. This clever, comforting picture book debut explores the challenges and joys of self-expression and social connection.
Using an imaginative visual metaphor to bring to life how we send out (ping!) and receive (pong!) communications, Ani Castillo’s words and pictures will empower and inspire anyone who has experienced the fear of sharing themselves with the world.
With an artful, accessible package, an eloquent message, and a lot of heart, here is a new classic to bring courage and comfort to humans of all ages.
by Anna Llenas
The first step in working through our feelings is to recognize them! The Color Monster is confused at first but understands that defining our feelings is the first step in coping with them. We don’t have to embrace every feeling we get, but by identifying them, we can better address them.
Unpack feelings with color in this international bestseller that helps young readers identify emotions and feel more in control.
One day, Color Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad, and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through color. As this adorable monster learns to sort and define his mixed up emotions, he gains self-awareness and peace as a result. Everyone will enjoy sharing this concept book that taps into both socio-emotional growth and color concepts in a simple, friendly way.
Do you ever have a day where you’re just feeling eh? Or you’re with your friend and you can tell they’re not themselves, but you don’t know why? Jenny Mei Is Sad shows how sometimes we don’t know all the details of what someone’s struggling with, but we can still be a good friend just by being there for them.
With this educational and entertaining picture book, learn how to approach difficult emotions with compassion and understanding—and be the best friend you can be.
My friend Jenny Mei is sad. But you might not be able to tell.
Jenny Mei still smiles a lot. She makes everyone laugh. And she still likes blue Popsicles the best. But, her friend knows that Jenny Mei is sad, and does her best to be there to support her.
This beautifully illustrated book is perfect for introducing kids to the complexity of sadness, and to show them that the best way to be a good friend, especially to someone sad, is by being there for the fun, the not-fun, and everything in between.