Mental illness, be it of a parent or of the child himself, is a hard topic to discuss. To help you and your family, we have compiled a list of children’s books that can help children better understand the illness that makes the child and his or her family a little bit different.

Books or Children With a Mental Illness

Catch a Falling Star: A Tale From the Iris the Dragon Series by Gayle Grass

  • Written as an introduction to mental health for children, this book is part of a series that tackles various children’s mental illnesses. This book also stresses the importance of children sharing their concerns and thoughts with an adult. Meant for ages 4 to 9.

Eli the Bipolar Bear by Sharon Bracken

  • Eli displays extremes of emotions. When his parents take him to speak with a professional, things finally turn around for the bear. This book was written by the mother of a child diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is best for children ages 5 to 9.

Go Away, Mr. Worrythoughts! by Nicky Johnston

  • This book follows Bayden, a child with anxiety, as he finds ways to help control his anxious mind. This book is appropriate for children ages 5 and up.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos

  • This book is about Joey, a child with ADHD who also has a complicated home and school life. This book is best for older children, ages 10 and above.

Books for Children With a Mentally Ill Parent

Mommy Stayed in Bed This Morning: Helping Children Understand Depression by Mary Wenger Weaver

  • A good read for children who have a parent with depression. The book is written in the first person from a young child’s point of view. This book is best for younger children, ages 4-8.

Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry by Bebe Moore Campbell

  • This book tells the story of a little girl whose mother suffers from an unnamed mental illness. Sometimes the mother is very happy, other times she is angry or cannot get out of bed. A good book to share with a child in a similar situation. This book is best for ages 4 and up.

Helicopter Man by Elizabeth Fensham

  • Written in the form of a diary, this book is told by a 12-year-old boy whose father has schizophrenia. This realistic look at a parent with mental illness delves into serious issues including poverty and losing a parent. This book is best for children 10 and up.

Do You Have Other Suggestions?

We would love to hear about any books you’ve read that could help a child process and understand either his or her own mental illness or the mental illness of a parent or family member. Our list is clearly not exhaustive, but with your help we can create a resource that parents like you can turn to when it comes to approaching these delicate yet important topics with their children. Please comment below to share the books you’ve found that help you and your family.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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