In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’ve gathered a list of children’s and YA titles being published this year that highlight the many ways mental health can affect young people, and the varying paths to managing emotions.
A Blue Kind of Day
Rachel Tomlinson, illus. by Tori-Jay Mordey. Kokila, $17.99 Apr. 5 ISBN 978-0-593-32401-1.Ages 4–8.
Coen is struggling with his emotions, despite his family’s attempts to cheer him up in their own ways. Finally, they learn that in order to help one another, they have to listen.
The Big Worry Day
K.A. Reynolds, illus. by Chloe Dominique. Viking, $17.99 Aug. 22 ISBN 978-0-593-46563-9. Ages 4–8.
A girl and her dog similarly get worried often. In order to get through their day of adventures, the girl will have to come prepared to soothe both of their anxieties.
Rob Justus. Page Street, $17.99 Feb. 22 ISBN 978-1-64567-349-1. Ages 4–8.
Little Brother is terrified of monsters, and Big Sister doesn’t believe in them. But when Big Sister takes him on adventure to overcome his fears and gets them into some monstrous trouble, Little Brother is ready to prove that he can be brave.
Brave Every Day
Trudy Ludwig, illus by Patrice Barton. Knopf, $18.99 June 28 ISBN 978-0-593-30637-6. Ages 3–7.
On a class trip to the aquarium, Camila can feel her anxiety building and wants to do what she does best: hide. But finding another classmate in need of comforting helps her learn that compassion might be the best calming agent of all.
Don’t Worry, Murray
David Ezra Stein. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 June 7 ISBN 978-0-06-284524-5. Ages 4–8.
Murray the dog has lots of worries about the big world around him, but starts to overcome these fears step by step.
Dragons on the Inside (And Other Big Feelings)
Valerie Coulman, illus. by Alexandra Colombo. Free Spirit, $16.99 Oct. 25 ISBN 978-1-63198-540-9. Ages 4–8.
On the inside, a child’s emotions come to life in the form of dragons and creatures, and as he works on his mental battles, he learns to communicate his inner turmoil to the “outside” for help.
Everybody Feels Fear
Ashwin Chacko. DK, $16.99 Nov. 1 ISBN 978-0-7440-6262-5. Ages 3–5.
This picture book aims to comfort children and remind them that everyone feels afraid sometimes, but we can all overcome that negative feeling.
Everything in Its Place
Pauline David-Sax illus. by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. Random House, $17.99 July 19 ISBN 978-0-593-37882-3. Ages 4–8.
Shy Nicky’s safe space is the library, and when it closes for the week, Nicky faces her social anxieties and unlocks a new sense of belonging.
Kathryn Ormsbee, illus. by Molly Brooks. Random House, $12.99 May 3 ISBN 978-0-593-30131-9. Ages 8–12.
Though Katie and Kacey are different, they are best friends. But after Kacey starts drifting away from her at summer camp, it’s all Katie can think about when she arrives back home, and Katie fears her habits that help her stop worrying may prevent her from ever fitting in.
Hattie Harmony: Worry Detective
Elizabeth Olsen and Robbie Arnett, illus. by Marissa Valdez. Viking, $17.99 June 28 ISBN 978-0-593-35144-4. Ages 4–8.
Hattie Harmony the worry detective can always find just the right thing to help her friends, especially on a nerve-wracking day like the first day of school. But when Hattie begins to feel worried herself, she must learn to overcome her own fears.
How to Train Your Pet Brain
Nelly Buchet, illus. by Amy Jindra. Beaming Books, $17.99 Feb. 22 ISBN 978-1-5064-8050-3. Ages 3–8.
A girl attempts to train her unruly pet brain in order to work together to process her feelings.
I Want to Be Mad for a While
Barney Saltzberg. Orchard, $9.99 Aug. 2 ISBN 978-1-338-66654-0. Ages 3–5.
A cat wants to sit in his feelings of anger for a while, in this picture book that explores negative feelings, how to communicate them, and how to move past them.
In the Blue
Erin Hourigan. Little, Brown, $18.99 May 3 ISBN 978-0-316-49762-6. Ages 4–8.
A daughter learns to navigate life within her father’s feelings of depression and finds that though some days can be difficult, their connection will outlast hard times.
Olivia Wrapped in Vines
Maude Nepveu-Villeneuve, illus. by Sandra Dumais, translated by Charles Simard. Orca, $19.95 Feb. 15 ISBN 978-1-4598-3103-2. Ages 3–5.
Thorny vines sprout around Olivia when she’s feeling overwhelmed, making it hard for her peers to reach her. But a special teacher sees beyond the thorns to the girl inside, and helps her learn to control her vines.
Out of a Jar
Deborah Marcero. Putnam, $17.99 Feb. 8 ISBN 978-0-593-32637-4. Ages 3–7.
Llewellyn the rabbit does not like to feel negative emotions, so he packs them away in jars where they won’t bother him. But when his positive emotions also start to turn negative, he packs them all away until there are almost no feelings at all, and his emotions refuse to stay bottled away forever.
A Spark in the Dark
Pam Fong. Greenwillow, $17.99 Oct. 18 ISBN 978-0-06-313653-3. Ages 4–8.
A little fish lost in the ocean moves through an expanse of feelings before finding the spark of light inside to guide him home.
Sometimes I Grumblesquinch
Rachel Vail, illus. by Hyewon Yum. Orchard, $18.99 July 19 ISBN 978-1-338-82624-1. Ages 4–8.
In this companion to the bestselling picture book Sometimes I’m Bombaloo, Katie Honors loves her little brother but sometimes struggles with the responsibilities of being a big sister, and when she can no longer “grumblesquinch” her feelings down, she learns to deal with all of her feelings, even the not-so-nice ones.
Stop and Smell the Cookies
Gibson Frazier, illus. by Micah Player. Putnam, $17.99 July 19 ISBN 978-0-525-51714-6. Ages 4–8.
When Dash gets excited, he sometimes can’t control the sensations in his body, or his actions, but he learns a way to slow down when big feelings are approaching.
Sarah Howden, illus. by Erika Rodriguez Medina. Owlkids, $18.95 Mar. 15 ISBN 978-1-77147-427-6. Ages 4–8.
Following an upsetting incident, a boy digs a tunnel from his room to the backyard and travels home once he’s taken time for himself.
Where Is Bina Bear?
Mike Curato. Holt, $18.99 Jan. 11 ISBN 978-1-250-76220-7. Ages 4–8.
Tiny is thrilled to throw her party, but her best friend Bina Bear is nowhere to be found, until Tiny recognizes her shy friend is anxious, and strives to help make her more comfortable.
And They Lived…
Steven Salvatore. Bloomsbury, $17.99 Mar. 8 ISBN 978-1-5476-0819-5. Ages 12 and up.
While questioning his gender identity and recovering from an eating disorder, aspiring animator Chase wants the happily ever after of fairy tales and may find it with poet and new friend Jack. But Jack is struggling with his own sexuality, and Chase must discover how to love and show up for himself as he awaits his fairy tale ending.
Marla Lesage. Orca, $16.95 Sept. 13 ISBN 978-1-4598-2839-1. Ages 9–12.
This summer it seems everyone is leaving 11-year-old Leah behind, as her best friend suddenly moves and her mother is reassigned, leaving her with her father who has just returned from deployment. As Leah navigates her new reality she also learns to cope and help with her father’s PTSD in this graphic novel.
Elly Swartz. Delacorte, $16.99 Feb. 15 ISBN 978-0-593-37412-2. Ages 8–12.
Autumn, who has social anxiety, finds potential new friends in Logan and Cooper who despite their affinity for her, cannot get along with each other. When Autumn becomes the anonymous writer of the advice column for the student newspaper and lands in the middle of a feud between Logan and Cooper, she learns to find her voice even when it is most difficult.
Exactly Where You Need to Be
Amelia Diane Coombs. S&S, $18.99 June 7 ISBN 978-1-5344-9354-4. Ages 14 and up.
Florie feels that her OCD and her mother’s concern hasn’t allowed her to blossom into the person she wants to be now that she’s graduated high school. When her best friend offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a road trip to see a live taping of their favorite podcast, Florie jumps at the chance and learns that their driver is her best friend’s brother, also her crush.
Gillian McDunn. Bloomsbury, $16.99 Mar. 1 ISBN 978-1-5476-0625-2. Ages 9–11.
Cooking helps Elliot navigate his ADHD, the shifting dynamics of his newly remarried family, and his difficulty making new friends. The kitchen is the one place he can feel completely in control. When a school project requires him to be paired with popular Marisol, Elliot fears that they won’t connect, but finds that their differences may make them a good pair, and that making mistakes is a part of friendship.
How to Live Without You
Sarah Everett. Clarion, $18.99 May 17 ISBN 978-0-358-25622-9. Ages 14 and up.
Emmy can’t believe that her sister Rose would just run away and never come back, like the rest of their town believes, and she returns to their hometown to learn the truth of what happened to her. But when her pursuit leads to revelations about her sister’s mental health struggles, Emmy slowly comes to terms with how separate their lives have been.
Improve: How I Discovered Improv and Conquered Social Anxiety
Alex Graudins. First Second, $17.99 Sept. 6 ISBN 978-1-250-20823-1. Ages 14–18.
Hoping to ease her struggles with social anxiety and negative thoughts, Alex signs up for an improv comedy class. While the theatrics of the class seem silly, Alex begins to make new friends, confront her fears, and grow confident enough for her most daunting challenge: a live performance.
It Looks Like Us
Alison Ames. Page Street, $18.99 Sept. 13 ISBN 978-1-64567-618-8. Ages 14 and up.
While on a research trip in Antarctica, Riley, who struggles with anxiety, senses something amiss and tries to ignore it. But when their leader attacks her and the students discover that something is following their expedition, Riley must trust her instincts to survive.
Iveliz Explains It All
Andrea Beatriz Arango, illus. by Alyssa Bermudez. Random House, $16.99 Sept. 13 ISBN 978-0-593-56397-7. Ages 10–14.
Iveliz wants seventh grade to be different, but when she arrives at school she can’t help the anger she feels when her peers aren’t kind. Iveliz learns with the guidance of her family and therapist to advocate for herself in this novel in verse.
Long Story Short
Serena Kaylor. Wednesday Books, $18.99 July 26 ISBN 978-1-250-81841-6. Ages 14–18.
Beatrice Quinn, a neurodiverse homeschooled math pro, can only attend her dream school, University of Oxford, if she can prove to her parents that she can make friends and survive on her own. When she’s sent to a Shakespearean theater camp to try “normal” teeenager activities, she finds that relationships aren’t as simple as math.
Kacen Callender. Scholastic $17.99 July 19 ISBN 978-1-338-63659-8. Ages 8–12.
Moon escapes to the spirit realm each night, their only solace from their depression. But when the spirit realm comes under threat, it is up to Moon to save this world while coming to terms with the love and safety they can find in their human world too.
Magali Le Huche. Nobrow, $19.99 Sept. 6 ISBN 978-1-913123-19-2. Ages 14 and up.
A middle schooler growing up in the 1990s navigates the transition between childhood and adolescence, anxiety and depression, and her newly changing body; when she discovers her new favorite band, The Beatles, their music comforts her in times of hardship.
Operation Final Notice
Matthew Landis. Dial, $17.99 Nov. 8 ISBN 978-0-593-10975-5. Ages 12 and up.
Best friends Ronny and Jo are both growing increasingly anxious as they forge ahead towards the New Year, with Ronny trying to save enough money to keep his family’s car from repossession and Jo preparing to audition for a prestigious music school. Together the two learn to work through their anxious fears, and accept when they need to ask for help.
Queen of the Tiles
Hanna Alkaf. Salaam Reads, $18.99 Apr. 19 ISBN ISBN 978-1-5344-9455-8. Ages 12 and up.
Najwa Bakri is grieving and managing her anxiety following the death of her best friend and Scrabble champion Trina, but hopes to honor her at her next Scrabble competition, the same one her friend died at. However, with allies and foes now fighting for the champion title once held by Trina, and Trina’s defunct Instagram posting cryptic clues about her death, Najwa must uncover the truth of what happened to her friend in this competitive world.
Courtne Comrie. HarperCollins, $16.99 Sept. 27 ISBN 978-0-06-315973-0. Ages 8–12.
In this novel in verse, Rain struggles with her depression, which she keeps a secret from her family. When her older brother Xander is the victim of a hate crime, Rain’s worsening condition is eased by a teacher’s proposal to attend a circle group, and with her newfound support she begins to help herself and her family come together.
Lily Anderson. Holt, $18.99 Apr. 5 ISBN 978-1-250-24673-8. Ages 14–18.
Prudence Perry used to be a Ladybird Scout, part of a hunting squad that protects humans from monsters. But after her best friend was killed in battle, the grief and PTSD became overwhelming. When the scouts desperately need her after monsters attack her town, Prudence must confront her past to make room for her future.
Summer of June
Jamie Sumner. Atheneum, $17.99 May 31 ISBN 978-1-5344-8602-7. Ages 10 and up.
June Delancey’s summer goals include overcoming her anxiety and becoming the outspoken girl she knows she can be, which starts with creating a secret library garden. But as her anxiety becomes more overwhelming, she leans on her friends, and herself, to make this the summer she’s been dreaming of.
Marika McCoola, illus. by Aatmaja Pandya. Algonquin, $17.95 June 7 ISBN 978-1-61620-789-2. Ages 14–18.
Jade’s time at her summer art intensive should be focused on her ceramics, but she can only think of her best friend Phoebe, who recently attempted suicide. As Jade channels her worry into her work, the pieces suddenly come to life, helping Jade to face her concerns about Phoebe and about her own future.
Maggie Edkins Willis. Roaring Brook, $14.99 June 14 =ISBN 978-1-250-76742-4. Ages 8–12.
As Lucy enters middle school, she learns that her older sister Olivia is struggling with an eating disorder, shifting their parents’ attention to Olivia, as Lucy faces a new school and a hurtful classmate. But together, the two sisters lean on each other to help begin their process of healing, in this graphic novel debut.
This Is Why They Hate Us
Aaron H. Aceves. S&S, $19.99 Aug. 23 ISBN 978-1-5344-8565-5. Ages 14 and up.
Enrique must get over his crush on Saleem, and to do so, he intends to develop new feelings for someone else. When his plan uproots deeper fears and anxieties, Enrique discovers the best way to get over someone isn’t to find someone else, but to find himself.
The Silence That Binds Us
Joanna Ho. HarperTeen, $17.99 June 14 ISBN 978-0-06-305934-4. Ages 14 and up.
Chinese-Taiwanese American Maybelline struggles to live up to her mother’s expectations, while her brother Danny makes it look easy. But when Danny dies by suicide and their community places blame on their culture, May uses her passion for writing to confront their accusations and honor her brother.
The Words We Keep
Erin Stewart. Delacorte, $18.99 Mar. 15 ISBN 978-1-984848-86-4. Ages 12 and up.
Lily’s sister is returning home after a self-harm incident, and Lily cannot escape her own feelings of anxiety that are starting to arise. Focusing on an art project, Lily begins to find the words to express the feelings she’s been trying to hide.
Zia Erases the World
Bree Barton. Viking, $16.99 Apr. 26 ISBN 978-0-593-35099-7. Ages 12 and up.
When Zia’s grandmother arrives with a family dictionary containing a magical eraser that removes its real-life referents from the world, Zia begins removing words that cause those around her pain. However, removing words has staggering consequences and Zia must find a way to bring back the words she once erased, and appreciate the good and bad.