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Mental Health and Wellness Reading Collection for Children & Youth 

This curated collection is all about growing happy and healthy! Dive into books that explore feelings, friendships, and how to be your best self. From calming anxieties to celebrating differences, these stories will help children and youth navigate the ups and downs of life with a smile.

Whether for a curious young reader or a teenager looking for tips, this collection has something for most readers. Parents and other trusted adults grab a comfy spot, open a book, and help a young person spark their shine! If you are a child, or youth and have questions about any of the topics covered below, please talk to a trusted adult. You are not alone. Books can be borrowed from a public library or purchased in our bookstore.

  • Ed. by Nora Shalaway Carpenter and Rocky Callen

    This YA collection showcases 16 short stories featuring characters with mental health conditions. The stories vary in genre and setting, from realistic contemporary fiction set in the boxing ring to a paranormal high school to a fantasy about a fallen star. Many entries in the anthology come in the conventional short-story format, but some are poetry or comics. Although the stories spotlight characters who struggle with mental health, the stories themselves are not necessarily about that struggle—they are about family, friendship, sports, grief, and fitting in. Some name specific conditions and center medication or therapy, while others do not. All of the contributors have lived experiences with mental health, and a short blurb from each writer discusses these experiences. —Marija Lukic

  • by Michelle Shreeve

    Losing a parent at any time in one's life is difficult, but losing a parent when a teenager brings its own distinct challenges. Coping with Parental Death offers coping strategies, expert advice, useful resources, and valuable insight from other young adults, providing support to those struggling with the death of one or both of their parents.

  • by Mia Nosanow

    Students and parents will find useful, even life-saving advice in this valuable guide to staying mentally and physically healthy during college by a licensed psychologist who spent two decades as a mental-health college counselor.

  • by Joe Jansen

    This book is a valuable resource for teenagers who may be experiencing grief due to the loss of a friend or family member. It provides insights to help them understand what they are going through and includes tips and resources from both experts and young adults on how to cope with their grief.

  • by Nicole Melleby

    When Fig’s father’s erratic behavior prompts her teacher to call Child Protective Services, the girl feels an inordinate amount of pressure to prove everything is okay at home, when it most assuredly is not. Art becomes a conduit for understanding and healing in this emotional story.

  • by Melinda Szymanik

    This picture book dramatizes the kind of depression that can come out of the blue and ways to make it go away. A young narrator wakes up one morning to find a comical-looking blue elephant sitting on their chest. This elephant does not budge. She clings to the child, making it hard for them to do anything.

    The illustrations are brilliant in showing the progression of the child’s moods by having the landscape change from gray winter to multicolored spring. The elephant moves off the child, then to their side, finally playing football with them. The resolution, in which the child learns to live with all the colors of different moods, fits beautifully. —Connie Fletcher

  • By Pete Oswald

    Best-selling Oswald explores the big feelings kids can have and encourages emotional literacy in this picture book perfect for SEL collections.

  • by Marilyn E. Gootman

    The death of a friend is a wrenching event for anyone at any age and can spark feelings that range from sadness to guilt to anxiety. This sensitive book answers questions grieving teens often have, like "How should I be acting?" "How long will this last?" and "What if I can't handle my grief on my own?" The book also addresses the complicated emotions that can accompany the death of an acquaintance, as opposed to a close friend. The advice is gentle, non-preachy, and compassionate; recommended for parents and teachers of teens who have experienced a painful loss.

    This updated edition includes new quotes from teens as well as insights into losing a friend or an acquaintance in a school shooting or through other violence. Also features updated resources and recommended reading, including information on suicide hotlines and other support for anyone in crisis.

  • by Janice Lynn Mather

    After her brother’s death by suicide, Karmen is left adrift with only one question anchoring her: Why? While her parents deal with their grief in their own ways, Karmen finds herself suspended from school and with plenty of time to investigate what pushed Julian to make his final choice. With a tender plot, Mather captures the breathless rage that unexpected loss and guilt can bring.

    The content’s heaviness finds levity with the book’s sunny Nassau, Bahamas setting and with character details such as Karmen’s love of knitting, her quiet crush on her best friend’s brother, and the skateboarding community into which Karmen is folded as she explores—and tries on—her brother’s life. The book also offers strong discussion around managing mental health, depicting talk and art therapy among other strategies. Readers will enjoy the book’s satisfying plot and thematic endings. —Abby Hargreaves

  • by Ami Polonsky

    Iris tries to act normal at school, going through the motions and joking around with her friends. But nothing is normal, and sometimes it feels like she'll never laugh again. How can she when her dad is dying of a virus that's off-limits to talk about? When she knows that soon all she'll have left of her kind, loving dad are memories, photos, and a binder full of the poems they used to exchange?

    In a sea of rage and grief, Iris resolves to speak out against the rampant fear, misinformation, and prejudice surrounding AIDS--and finds the pieces of Dad that she never knew before. Along the way, Iris might just find new sides to herself.

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