Books to help kids with mental health

Published 6:00 pm Saturday, October 15, 2022

By Shonda Johnston

Clark County Cooperative Extension Office

World Mental Health Day was earlier this week, on Oct. 10. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of mental health issues. According to the World Health Organization, in 2019, an estimated 1 in 8 people were living with mental disorders worldwide. That number has increased as a result of the pandemic, and the services, skills, and funding available for mental health is disproportionately low considering the need. A silly stigma surrounding mental health stops people from accessing much-needed services or even talking to others about their struggles.

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Bringing awareness and normalizing taking care of your mental health is a great way to address mental health concerns. This is especially important with children. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 6 children ages 2-8 are diagnosed with mental, behavioral, or developmental disorders in the U.S., and 20% of American children ages 9-17 will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder that causes at least some sort of impairment.

With these numbers, we must begin to help children prioritize their mental health. An easy way to introduce this concept is through reading. Books can be a great way to educate tweens and teens about how important it is to care for their mental health. Here are some great novels you can read with or offer to a child to read about mental health. You can likely find these at your public library, or your child may be able to borrow them from a school library.

Books for children for ages 8-12

• “Dear Student” by Elly Swartz

• “AWOL” by Marla Lesage

• “Honestly Elliott” by Gillian McDunn

• “Iveliz Explains It All” by Andrea Beatriz Arango

• “Moonflower” by Kacen Callender

• “Rain Rising” by Courtne Comrie

• “Summer of June” by Jamie Sumner

• “Smaller Sister” by Maggie Edkins Willis

Books for children for ages 12 and up

• “And They Lived…” by Steven Salvatore

• “Exactly Where You Need to Be” by Amelia Diane Coombs

• “How to Live Without You” by Sarah Everett

• “Improve: How I Discovered Improv and Conquered Social Anxiety” by Alex Graudins

• “It Looks Like Us” by Alison Ames

• “Long Story Short” by Serena Kaylor

• “Nowhere Girl” by Magali Le Huche

• “Operation Final Notice” by Matthew Landis

• “Queen of the Tiles” by Hanna Alkaf

• “Scout’s Honor” by Lily Anderson

• “Slip” by Marika McCoola

• “This Is Why They Hate Us” by Aaron H. Aceves

• “The Silence That Binds Us” by Joanna Ho

• “The Words We Keep” by Erin Stewart

•“Zia Erases the World” by Bree Barton

If you would like more information about mental health awareness, please contact the Clark County Extension Office.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability. 

Shonda Johnston is the Clark County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences. She can be reached at 859-744-4682 or by email at