Books for helping kids understand mental health

Books for helping kids
understand mental health

When dealing with issues such as anxiety, depression, or intense emotions, sometimes it can be difficult for a child or teen to make sense of what is happening in their mind and body, especially if they don’t have other experiences for comparison. For kids, reading about these topics can be effective in promoting problem solving, increasing compassion, developing empathy, and enhancing self-awareness. Here are some of our favorite books to help children and teens gain a better understanding of these complex topics. Books like the ones listed below can spark meaningful conversations with your kids and help make talking about mental health easier, more relatable, and a part of daily routine.

Okay to Say Kids’ Reading List

Okay to Say Kids’ Reading List


Beautiful Oops!
Written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg

Breathe Like A Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere
Written by Kira Willey, illustrated by Anni Betts

Don’t Feed the WorryBug
Written and illustrated by Andi Green

Written and illustrated by Aliki

How Big Are Your Worries Little Bear?
Written by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings
Written by Jo Witek, illustrated by Christine Roussey

Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster
Written and illustrated by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt

Listening with My Heart
Written by Gabi Garcia, illustrated by Ying Hui Tan

Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda
Written by Lauren Alderfer, illustrated by Kerry Lee MacLean

Mr. Worry: A Story About OCD
Written by Holly L. Niner, illustrated by Greg Swearingen

My Many Colored Days
Written by Dr. Seuss, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

My Mixed Emotions: Help Your Kids Handle Their Feelings
Written and illustrated by Elinor Greenwood and DK Publishing Staff, foreword by Maureen Healy

Tiger Tiger is it True?
Written by Byron Katie, illustrated by Hans Wilhelm

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety
Written by Dawn Huebner, illustrated by Bonnie Matthews

When Sophie Gets Angry — Really, Really Angry…
Written and illustrated by Molly Bang


Written by Wesley King

Warp Speed
Written by Lisa Yee

Written by R.J. Palacio


Get The Facts

Prevention and early intervention are essential to children’s mental health!

Every child deserves to grow up healthy and strong, emotionally as well as physically. Yet, the facts are:

50% of all mental illnesses begin by age 14.

1 in 5 children (age 0-11) experience a mental disorder in a given year.

10% of children experience some impairment in daily functioning at home, in school, or in the community due to mental health problems.

It’s also true that most mental illnesses are treatable, and early detection and treatment offers the greatest opportunity for hope and recovery allowing children to grow to be productive, emotionally healthy adults.

Each year, over 550,000 Texas children and adolescents experience severe mental health needs. Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and its partners are working to change that through policy and system reforms to improve access to mental health services in our communities and schools.

For the latest information on this work, please click the “Learn More” button below.