Mental Health Week is May 3-9, 2021 and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Given the difficult last year and ongoing pandemic, talking to kids about mental wellness is more important than ever. Here are some titles to get the conversation started with young readers.
By Alexandra Penfold
Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
42 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525579748 | Knopf BFYR
In their bestselling picture book All Are Welcome, Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman celebrate kindness, inclusivity, and diversity. Now with Big Feelings, they help children navigate the emotional challenges they face in their daily lives. What should we do when things don’t go to plan? We may feel mad, frustrated, or overwhelmed, but by talking it through, compromising, and seeing another point of view, we can start fresh, begin anew.
Happy: A Beginner’s Book of Mindfulness
By Nicola Edwards
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593121191 | Rodale Kids
This poetically-written introduction to mindfulness touches upon the most important aspects of life – feeling, discovering, smelling, listening, and all the things that bring the world to life. With every soothing read and practice, children are better equipped to understand and control their own emotions . . . and discover an appreciation for the beautiful world around them.
It’s All Love: Reflections for Your Heart and Soul
By Jenna Ortega
240 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593174562 | Random House BFYR
This collection from actress Jenna Ortega is filled with Jenna’s own original quotes and affirmations, alongside intimate, personal stories about growing up Latina in Hollywood, working through depression, falling in – and out of – love, losing close family members, and so much more. Jenna has had to balance her acting career, her private life, and public expectations from a young age, and she’s learned that the only way to get through it all is to wake up every morning and affirm her commitment to herself, her faith, her mental health, and her family. In this honest and moving debut, she shares openly and intimately what it means to live this life of self-appreciation. Jenna’s vulnerability will remind readers that there’s power within us all and we are not alone in our struggles.
Many Shapes of Clay: A Story of Healing
By Kenesha Sneed
44 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Hardcover
ISBN 9783791374680 | Prestel Junior
Eisha lives with her mother, a ceramic artist, who helps her make a special shape out of a piece of clay. The shape reminds Eisha of her father, of the ocean, of a lemon. As Eisha goes through her neighborhood doing errands with her mother, the piece of clay hardens and then shatters into pieces when Eisha taps it. In poignant and powerful words and pictures, Kenesha Sneed shows how Eisha learns to live with the sense of loss and of the joyful power of making something new out of what is left behind. Illustrated with Sneed’s bold colors, graphic lines, and gestural textures, the book celebrates diversity and shares a gentle message that we all have the ability to heal and create.
My Monster and Me
By Nadiya Hussain
Illustrated by Ella Bailey
32 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593350768 | Viking BFYR
From the winner of The Great British Baking Show and star of Nadiya’s Time to Eat comes a heartfelt story to help give children and parents the tools they need to talk about worries and anxiety. A touching story about a little boy whose worry monster follows him everywhere he goes. It’s there when he gets dressed, when he wants to play with his toys, and even when his friends come over to visit. How can he escape his worries? Having struggled with anxiety for as long as she can remember, Nadiya Hussain has written this heartfelt story to ensure that no child suffers in silence – no matter what shape their worry monster may take.
By Adam P. Schmitt
304 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536219012 | Candlewick
As if being stuffed into last year’s dress pants at his cousin’s wake weren’t uncomfortable enough, thirteen-year-old Jimmy has just learned from his mother that he has to say a few words at the funeral the next day. Why him? What could he possibly say about his cousin, who ruined everything they did? He can’t recall one birthday party, family gathering, or school event with Patrick that didn’t result in injury or destruction. As Jimmy attempts to navigate the odd social norms of the wake, he draws on humor, heartfelt concern, and a good deal of angst while racking his brain and his memory for a decent and meaningful memory to share. But it’s not until faced with a microphone that the realization finally hits him: it’s not the words that are spoken that matter the most, but those that are truly heard.
By Raphael Simon
320 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525552413 | Dial BFYR
Mickey is angry all the time: at his divorced parents, at his sister, and at his two new stepmoms, both named Charlie. And so he can’t resist the ad inside his pack of gum: “Do you ever wish everyone would go away? Buy The Anti-Book! Satisfaction guaranteed.” He orders the book, but when it arrives, it’s blank – except for one line of instruction: To erase it, write it. He fills the pages with all the things and people he dislikes. . . . Next thing he knows, he’s wandering an anti-world, one in which everything and everyone familiar is gone. Or are they? His sister soon reappears – but she’s only four inches tall. A tiny talking house with wings looks strangely familiar, as does the mysterious half-invisible boy who seems to think that he and Mickey are best buds. The boy persuades Mickey to go find the Bubble Gum King – the king, who resides at the top of a mountain, is the only one who might be able help Mickey fix the mess he’s made.
The Crayons’ Book of Feelings
By Drew Daywalt
Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
20 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Board Book
ISBN 9780593352939 | Philomel BFYR
Everyone knows the crayons love to color, but did you know that crayons have feelings too? Sometimes they are happy and sometimes they feel downright blue. From the creative minds behind the The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home, comes a fun board book to help young readers understand and express their feelings.
The Invisible Bear
By Cecile Metzger
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266872 | Tundra Books
A bear sits in his quiet, colorless home in a forgotten place. He feels invisible; no one comes to see him, and he spends his days alone. Then someone moves in next door. Madame Odette is sound and sunshine, and at first, the bear isn’t sure about this colorful new neighbor. But through an act of kindness, the bear and the Madame Odette meet, and as time goes by, they become friends. And in the end, they are both forever changed by the gifts they bring each other. The first book from author-illustrator Cécile Metzger, The Invisible Bear is a powerful and beautiful meditation on the beauty of friendship and how two people can save each other just by being themselves.
Tough Like Mum
By Lana Button
Illustrated by Carmen Mok
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265981 | Tundra Books
Kim’s mum is tough. Everyone says so. She can deal with unruly customers at the Red Rooster with a snap of her fingers. Kim is tough, too. She doesn’t need to wear a hat to keep her ears warm. And she can make soup all by herself, even without the stove. Kim and her mum are tough. But Kim is learning that sometimes toughness doesn’t look like what you’d expect. In this tender exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, Kim and her mother learn that in order to support and truly take care of each other, they need to be tough – and that sometimes being tough means showing vulnerability and asking for help.
What’s Up, Maloo?
By Geneviève Godbout
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266643 | Tundra Books
Maloo the kangaroo has lost his hop. Can his friends help him find it again? This sweet picture book explores the idea of sadness and the importance of friendship through ups and downs. No other kangaroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo’s friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What’s wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. With patience, support and a little “hop” from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back. Simple text and adorable art convey the power of friendship over a gloomy mood in Geneviève Godbout’s charming debut as both author and illustrator.
Where Happiness Begins
By Eva Eland
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593127704 | Random House BFYR
This helpful picture book is a great introduction to mindfulness and emotional literacy. A spare text and simple illustrations encourage readers to find happiness even if it feels far away. The book gives it a shape, turning this elusive emotion into something real while acknowledging that you can’t be happy all the time. The thoughtful text reassures readers that when happiness is hard to find, they can look for it in many places. Sharing something with a friend or reaching out to someone who needs it can lead to happiness. Recognize and treasure it when you experience it, knowing that happiness begins with you. Perfect for kids and for adult readers tackling these feelings themselves!