10 picture books about mental health

Author: Wendy Tuxworth

Yesterday was International Children’s Book Day, so I thought I would put together a list of children’s picture books that talk about mindfulness, emotions, and being yourself.

I was kindly sent a copy of Antoinette Clark’s new picture book Kindness Matters: Sharing Bees via the publisher (thank you)! Illustrated by Russel Wayne, the picture book follows Sadie, a worker bee who has left Honeycomb City to find pollen and nectar. It touches on themes such as kindness and inclusivity, not only with the illustrations, which include many bees of different races, but also because of the emphasis of no one getting left behind. Through the quick story, Sharing Bees shows children that even when plans go wrong and the world is grey, friendship and teamwork can help make the world seem bright again.

Now, onto the 9 other books that I thought you might also be interested in!

1. A beautifully illustrated picture book, The Red Tree by Shaun Tan is a sparsely worded book about living with depression. A message of hope can be found on every page, as on each page, a tiny red leaf can be found.


2. The Way I Feel by Janan Cain is a vibrant picture book that teaches children the different words for their feelings. Its main message is that feelings are neither good nor bad, they simply are. I love that.


3. Silence uses some of the qualities of mindfulness to encourage children to listen to the world around them. The words used to describe the scenes include ‘snow twinkling’ and bees ‘loving’ flowers, which is just beautiful.


4. Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear is a simply stunning book illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. It is loosely based on the author Virginia Woolf and her relationship with her sister Vanessa Bell, and looks at depression.


5. Anger comes alive in Anh’s Anger, written by Gail Silver and illustrated by Christiane Kromer. Created in multimedia, the emotion of Anger pops off of the page and is a really great depiction of what anger feels like. It teaches children how to mindfully accept anger as an emotion to be loved and embraced.


6. The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers is a subtle and touching depiction of grief after a young girl loses her grandfather. With discussion from adults, this picture book teaches children about complicated emotions such as grief and love.


7. This is a pretty well-known one, but I had to include it. Michael Rosen’s Sad Book is about his experiences of sadness after losing his son. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, this is an absolutely extraordinary book.


8. You’ve Got Dragons by Kathryn Cave and Nick Maland is a picture book that talks about fear and anxiety with a humorous touch. It not only describes what anxiety feels like, but gives some tips about what to do when feeling that way, too.


9. And finally, Now by Antoinette Portis is a peaceful and meditative picture book about living in the moment. The illustrations are simple but beautiful, and give a calming element to the narrative. I think it would be appropriate for all ages!

So there we go, 10 picture books that look at emotions and mental health. If you know of any other great books about these topics, give me a shout! I’d love to hear about them.

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