January is tough for a lot of people. Social media has taken great lengths to address this, with Blue Monday, and Bell Let’s Talk Day both falling in January and gaining steam every year. Regardless of whether you or your kids have officially received a diagnosis or have a chronic condition, we should all make mental health a priority. Given we are living during a pandemic and in the middle of a social and political reckoning, some kids may be experiencing new levels of anxiety. Here is a collection of recent Canadian books that address mental health and wellbeing.
Watch the segment here
Picture Books, Ages 3-7
Why Are You So Quiet? (Annick Press): It’s hard to be introverted in an extroverted world. Many introverted children struggle in social situations or find them to be a source of anxiety. This beautiful book celebrates all things quiet and encourages children to listen; to the world and their inner selves.
Raj’s Rule (for the Bathroom at School) (OwlKids): A gentle story told with humour, sensitivity (and rhyme!) that addresses a very specific and common source of anxiety for kids (and adults!): using a public bathroom.
Follow Your Breath:A First Book of Mindfulness (Kids Can Press): This kid-friendly introduction to mindfulness includes spreads with simple mindfulness tips you can employ as you go about your day, including ways to incorporate nature, your surroundings, and focusing on your breath.
Puppy in My Head: A Book About Mindfulness (HarperCollins Canada): This is another book that directly addresses mindfulness. In this one, anxiety is personified as a puppy living in the narrator’s head, a very kid-friendly analogy that helps explain how anxiety works for young kids.
The Pink Umbrella (Tundra Books): A beautiful, sophisticated picture book for slightly older children or family discussions that subtly explores living with depression and the importance of a supportive community to help you through darker days.
What Kids Did: Stories of Kindness and Invention in the Time of COVID-19 (Second Story Press): It’s easy to get discouraged these days. This is an uplifting collection for kids and families who are looking for examples of hope in a challenging time. From local good news initiatives to inventions that went international, this collection reminds kids of the resilience of humanity and that the smallest gesture (or person!) can still have great impact.
Megabat is a Fraidybat (Tundra Books): This third book in the popular chapter book series tackles nerves and anxiety. It can be especially effective for kids to read about a popular, beloved character experiencing the same anxieties and struggles that they have. This series does a great job speaking directly to the emotional core of kids 6-9 without sacrificing humour.
Sara and the Search for Normal (Simon and Schuster Canada): A companion to the award-winning and Canadian favourite OCDaniel that focuses on Daniel’s friend Sara and her struggles to be “normal” amid various diagnoses, including bipolar disorder, depression, general anxiety disorder and mild schizophrenia. Kids will also appreciate the portrayal of group therapy.
Heads Up: Changing Minds on Mental Health (Orca Books): A powerful collection of real-life stories of the people who are changing how we perceive mental health. Also featuring fresh graphics, lists of resources, warning signs and coping strategies, this is a great primer on the history of mental health and how far we’ve come (though we still have a ways to go).
Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined (Penguin Teen Canada): For some readers, it is more effective or preferable to read a fictionalized account of hard topics. This critically-acclaimed and teen choice award-winning YA novel examines what it’s like to live with a parent suffering from mental illness.
For more books, please see my 2020 CTV Your Morning segment here.
Be well, friends.