fbpx Mental Health Books for Children
Authored by Nexus Family Healing on February 2, 2023

February is National Library Lover’s month, so we asked our staff members at our different agencies what mental health books are their favorite for children. See their recommendations below and learn a little bit about how reading can positively impact your child’s mental health and overall development! 

For Ages 0-5: 

Fun Fact: Reading and speaking to your child helps develop their language and communication skills even before they can speak. In fact, studies have shown that babies who are read and spoken to more often know more words. Here are some of our staff’s favorite book recommendations for your baby, toddler, or preschooler!

  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek
  • The Sour Grape by Jory John
  • Everything Will Be Ok by Anna Dewdney 

For Ages 6-9:

Fun Fact: Reading to your young child is a fantastic way to create one-on-one time and strengthen your bond. Not only are you improving their language skills, but you are helping them feel secure and associating books with a positive experience. 

  • Quiet Wyatt by Tammi Sauer
  • A Pumpkin for Peter by Fiona Munro
  • Alphabreaths: the ABCs of Mindful Breathing by Christopher Willard and Daniel Rechtschaffen
  • Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
  • Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival (and other Tom Percival books)
  • I Will Be Fierce by Bea Birdsong  
  • Holdin Pott by Chandra Ghosh Ippen 
  • You Weren’t With Me by Chandra Ghosh Ippen
  • Once I was Very Scared by Chandra Ghosh Ippen
  • Have you Filled A Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children by Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin, M.A.
  • The Color Monster by Anna Llenas
  • A Thought is a Thought by Nikki Hedstrom
  • Listening to My Body by Gaby Garcia
  • The Boy With Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee
  • I Am Enough by Grace Byers
  • Feelings Ninja by Mary Nhin 
  • A Little SPOT of Emotion by Diane Alber
  • A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes
  • A Kid’s Book About Empathy by Daron K. Roberts
  • Om the Otter by Parvati Shallow 

Ages: 10-12

Fun Fact: Even for your middle or high schooler, reading can have great mental and emotional health benefits. One way reading benefits teens is by lowering stress levels and giving them a healthy escape from the real world, taking their mind off of issues that may be causing stress and anxiety.

  • The Hurt by Teddi Doleski
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz
  • Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
  • The War That Saved My Life by  Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • AWOL by Marla Lesage
  • Honestly Elliot by Gillian McDunn
  • Moonflower by Kacen Callender
  • Summer of June by Jamie Summer
  • Don’t Pop Your Cork on Mondays by Adolph Moser

Ages 13 +

Fun Fact: Reading is a safe way for children to explore emotions and can increase their emotional intelligence. Children, especially those going through adolescence, can often feel emotionally isolated and misunderstood – reading is another way children can find connections and learn that other people have gone through similar experiences to them, and that they are not alone. 

  • OCDaniel by Wesley King
  • Stanley Will Probably Be Fine by Sally J. Pla
  • Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
  • The Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin 
  • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea by Ashely Herring Blake

Download the full mental health book list here.

Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health servicesfoster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 50 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.