Mental Health

If you are looking for books relevant to any aspect of mental health or emotional literacy, this site offers a wealth of reviews - and this page is a great place to start.

This is your signpost to a growing range of booklists and articles covering themes like mindfulness, kindness, exploring feelings and accommodating change. With book recommendations from children’s book experts and well-being specialists, our lists offer plenty of ideas for books to support the development of young healthy minds. We can also help you find titles relevant to specific mental health conditions, challenging situations and various life events. Many of the books have broad themes in which mental health is simply incidental.

“Books can play a powerful role in supporting children as they navigate their way through difficult experiences and challenging times. Children can find stories that gently suggest ways for coping with shyness or anxiety, and books that offer valuable messages of hope or understanding during a significant life change or a family illness. Books can also help them understand the experiences and emotions of others, and so develop their empathy and kindness.”
Alexandra Strick, BookTrust Consultant

Books and well-beingMother and son reading together in bed

Our well-being is everything. Internally as well as externally. So supporting emotional literacy in young children is really important, to equip them with the necessary understanding of their inner world, as well as the outer one.

Safely exploring the world

Books provide a way to explore emotional landscapes and a forum to externalise sensitive issues. Through the realms of stories, children can enter other worlds, where they can explore uncomfortable emotions or challenging experiences at a safe distance. This can help them normalise their feelings, see their reality reflected and know that they are not alone.

Discussing and reassuring

Young children will not yet have developed the skill of articulating how they feel about something or managing emotions like anger, frustration, sadness or loss. Books can help them find ways to understand and express these feelings, as well as helping provide all-important reassurance.  

Best of all, of course, the very act of reading or sharing a book together can provide a source of happiness and comfort.

“As a teacher, parent and Well-being Lead in a large primary school, I'm reminded on a daily basis of the power of developing a healthy mind. I believe that well-being is the foundation of everything - if our well-being is high, then we can be the best versions of ourselves. Once an adult is able to emotionally attune to their needs, the child will then feel seen and heard. Then they can begin to develop the emotional skills they need to be able to label their feelings and manage them in a healthy way.”
Alice Moore, Well-being Lead

Themed booklists

The following are just some of the many booklists we offer relating to mental health and well-being.

Supporting a healthy mind

We've put together a selection of picture books that can help young children to start to understand mental health, support a healthy mind, and supply useful strategies.

Books to support mental health awareness

Books that acknowledge or explore mental health issues can help to increase awareness, encourage dialogue, reduce stigma and develop real understanding. The following suggestions offer a spectrum of different perspectives and are well worth seeking out.

Kindness, compassion and empathy: picture books

Help put your child in another person's shoes with these books that inspire compassion: whether that's towards animals, friends, or people in very different situations to your own.

Books about feelings

Picture books can be a great way to get children to discuss their feelings.

Books to make you feel happy

Books are a great way to give yourself an instant mood boost! Check out these picture books that will immediately brighten your day.

Books about grief and loss

Books can help children to understand sad feelings – from losing a cherished toy to the death of a family member.

Books to help your child feel more calm and mindful

Why should adults get all the self-help books? You can also find some lovely reads and activities for youngsters who need a little extra support to feel relaxed, mindful, grateful, inspired and happy.

Picture books to help you talk about tough topics

Sharing picture books and talking about the words and images you see can help you to gently introduce topics which might seem tricky to talk about at first. It also provides an opportunity to spend special one-on-one time with your child where they feel supported and listened to.

Books to open up the world of imagination and empathy

These are the books that the Principal Children and Youth Librarian at Wood Green Library in Haringey, London, recommended to our Writer in Residence, Sita Brahmachari.

A matter of life and death

It can often be difficult to discuss death and bereavement with teenagers, or even for teenagers to do so with parents/carers.

Can't find what you're after?

Use our Bookfinder to search for your next read.

“Books help to equip children with emotional literacy skills, since they allow them to safely explore sensitive issues and have their feelings normalised. Once they're able to recognise different feelings as they arise, they begin to develop the confidence and language to share their emotions with others and communicate their needs effectively.”
Alice Moore, Well-being Lead

Articles and Blogs

It's OK Not To Be OK: Top tips for managing your child's anxiety

We all experience stress and anxiety now and again, and children are no exception. Child psychologist Dr Tina Rae shares some great tips for managing children's mental health, and our own, in uncertain times.

Books for young people to encourage mental wellbeing in troubled times

Author Lucy Christopher talks us through the children's books that shine a spotlight on mental wellbeing and empathy: topics we need as the world (and the news) gets ever-more complicated.

How books could help mental health and ease anxiety in children

Author Tom Percival tells us how his own experiences with anxiety led to his picture book Ruby's Worry - and why children's books could really help young people's emotional wellbeing.

5 top tips for parents dealing with their child's mental health

Anna Williamson is a trained therapist and Childline counsellor, whose new book focuses on the key issues that can affect children’s mental health. She has some advice for any worried parents and carers.

How books can help a child to talk about difficult feelings

Ewa Jozefkowicz lost her dad at a young age, so she knows how important support is for those who are struggling emotionally. Now she's hoping that her new book can help children to open up and feel less alone – and here's why.

'Sometimes being a person is hard': How books can help children explore grief and loss

The Rabbit Listened author Cori Doerrfeld explains why picture books can really help children to process and speak about difficult emotions.

8 books to read together in difficult times

Laura Dockrill shares 8 children’s books that bring in the light when you need it most - and which are perfect for adults and children to read together.


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