Cincinnati Children's Blog

15 Books Featuring Kids with Mental Health Challenges 

15 Books Featuring Kids with Mental Health Challenges 

It’s important for children to be introduced to a wide range of characters in literature. When they read about characters who are different from themselves, their horizons expand. And when kids read about characters similar to themselves, it can help give them a better understanding of our world and how they fit into that world.

In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, our Reading and Literacy Discovery Center has rounded up this list of books for kids that feature characters with mental health challenges. Try introducing some to your children, whether they face mental health issues or not. Ready, set, read!

Picture Books

1. Tommy Can’t Stop by Tim Federle (ADHD)

2. Unraveling Rose by Brian Wray (obsessive compulsive disorder)

3. The Princess and the Fog by Lloyd Jones (depression)

4. Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (anxiety)

Middle Grade

5. Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz (obsessive compulsive disorder)

6. Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (bipolar disorder)

7. The Joey Pigza series by Jack Gantos (ADHD)

8. Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty (obsessive compulsive disorder)

9. Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (depression)

10. The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson (obsessive compulsive disorder)

Young Adult

11. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (obsessive compulsive disorder)

12. Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green (eating disorder)

13. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (anxiety disorder caused by bullying)

14. Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder)

15. Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (schizophrenia)


The Cincinnati Children’s Reading and Literacy Discovery Center focuses on improving literacy and reading skills in children. The site’s Resource Directory contains searchable resources about reading and literacy in one central location with easy access for both parents and professionals.

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