Sarah Recommends: Books for Mental Health

Sarah Recommends: Books for Mental Health

A story can be an invitation to conversation.
Reading a book together can help to create a safe space to explore themes and topics in a classroom. Carefully selected by Orca’s Education Sales Manager Sarah Hartley, the stories and nonfiction books featured below offer a gentle way to start discussions around mental health.

Olivia Wrapped in Vines by Maude Nepveu-Villeneuve and Sandra Dumais

Ages 3-5

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, Olivia imagines her anxiety as vines that wrap around her body making it difficult to do the things she loves.

“This book is ideal for all libraries as a non-threatening and productive story that can give hope to children who feel like Olivia.”—School Library Journal, starred review

When I Feel: Easy Yoga for Big Feelings by Kathy Beliveau and Julie McLaughlin

Ages 3-5

This instructional picture book teaches children some basic yoga poses to help them accept and mindfully manage their (sometimes overwhelming) emotions.

“Fun, interactive, engaging and age-appropriate. Highly Recommended.”—CM: Canadian Review of Materials

The One with the Scraggly Beard by Elizabeth Withey and Lynn Scurfield

Ages 3-5

In this poignant story, a child’s curiosity and perceptiveness act as catalysts for understanding fear, suffering and resilience while exploring themes of homelessness, belonging and compassion. 

“A wise and timely tale because young children see what is happening on our streets and wonder why. Withey’s spare text allows the little boy to fill in the spaces as he matures and develops understanding.”—CM Magazine

Chick: Lister by Alex Van Tol

Ages 9-12

In this high-interest accessible novel for middle readers, fourteen-year-old Chick struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and his father’s impossible expectations.

“Teen readers who suffer from anxiety or OCD behaviors will find hope that understanding and help are out there.”—VOYA

Eight Times Up by John Corr

Ages 9-12

In this engaging middle-grade novel, Riley learns to cope with his anxiety by practicing the lesser known martial art aikido.

“An unexpected lesson that shows ‘learning to fall’ is an important step in developing resilience.”—Kirkus Reviews

The Sun Will Come Out by Joanne Levy

Ages 9-12

In this novel for middle-grade readers, painfully shy Beatrice Gelman ends up at summer camp all by herself and learns that silver linings can be found just about anywhere.

“Teaches its reader that being different doesn’t may you an outcast and that this is always a silver lining.”—Canadian Children’s Book News

Hey Jude by Star Spider

Ages 12+

In this accessible novel for teens, seventeen-year-old Penny must balance the last year of high school, a new romance and looking after her sister with mental health issues.

“An emotionally layered book with accurate insight into mental illness, ideal for reluctant readers.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Munro vs. the Coyote by Darren Groth

Ages 12+

Munro Maddux goes to Australia on a student exchange in order to try and deal with his younger sister’s death in this page-turning novel for teens.

“Groth’s novel is an unassuming look at survivor’s guilt. Munro is a likable character, and all the new friends he makes are quirky and well-drawn supporters in his journey to recovery. A welcome addition to realistic-fiction collections.”—Booklist

Heads Up: Changing Minds on Mental Health by Melanie Siebert and Belle Wuthrich

Ages 12+

Featuring real-life stories, Heads Up is a guide to understanding mental health and coping with mental illness, trauma and recovery. 

“Informative, diverse, and highly engaging; a much-needed addition to the realm of mental health.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

COMING SOON: I Make Space by Sara Cassidy and Jimmy Tigani.

Ages 0-2

In this straightforward but impactful board book, lessons about setting boundaries for yourself and respecting the boundaries of others are featured.

Available April 11, 2022. Preorder here.

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