Looking for the best children’s books about mental health? These picture books for mental health for elementary students are engaging for primary and upper elementary kids. Fiction and nonfiction books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books about bullying, mindfulness, calming strategies, depression, dealing with loss and more for your kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!
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Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson
In this wordless picture book, a little girl collects wildflowers while her distracted father pays her little attention. Each flower becomes a gift, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter. “Written” by award-winning poet JonArno Lawson and brought to life by illustrator Sydney Smith, Sidewalk Flowers is an ode to the importance of small things, small people, and small gestures.
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Jack’s Worry by Mark Zuppardi
Jack loves playing the trumpet, and for weeks he’s been looking forward to taking part in his first concert. But on the morning of the big day, Jack finds he has a Worry. And his Worry starts to grow. Even when Jack’s mother calls him for a special breakfast, even when he hides under the bed or runs around the yard, his Worry follows him. Suddenly, when it’s almost time to leave for the concert, Jack finds it’s all too much. For anyone who’s ever been afraid of failing at something new, this book offers just what’s needed to shrink a Worry down to size.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Jack’s Worry HERE
I’m Sad by Michael Ian Black
Everyone feels sad sometimes—even flamingos. Sigh. When Flamingo announces he’s feeling down, the little girl and Potato try to cheer him up, but nothing seems to work. Not even dirt! (Which usually works for Potato.) Flamingo learns that he will not always feel this way. And his friends learn that sometimes being a friend means you don’t have to cheer someone up. You just have to stick by your pal no matter how they feel. Even if they’re a potato.
Get the lesson plan and activities for I’m Sad HERE
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect—until her first day of school. “You’re named after a flower!” teases Victoria. “Let’s smell her,” says Jo. Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again?
Get the lesson plan and activities for Chrysanthemum HERE
Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor
Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful.
In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges–and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us but we’re not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Just Ask! HERE
Beyond the Fence by Maria Gulemetova
A small pig lives in a large house with a boy who tells him how to dress and what to do. One day, he meets a wild pig who introduces him to life “beyond the fence.” This charming debut contains important messages about individuality and making one’s own choices.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Beyond the Fence HERE
The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros
James’s Grandpa has the best balloons because he has the best memories. He has balloons showing Dad when he was young and Grandma when they were married. Grandpa has balloons about camping and Aunt Nelle’s poor cow. Grandpa also has a silver balloon filled with the memory of a fishing trip he and James took together.
But when Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away, James is heartbroken. No matter how hard he runs, James can’t catch them. One day, Grandpa lets go of the silver balloon—and he doesn’t even notice! Grandpa no longer has balloons of his own. But James has many more than before. It’s up to him to share those balloons, one by one.
Get the lesson plan and activities for The Remember Balloons HERE
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
There is a wonder and magic to childhood. We don’t realize it at the time, of course . . . yet the adults in our lives do. They encourage us to see things in the stars, to find joy in colors and laughter as we play. But what happens when that special someone who encourages such wonder and magic is no longer around? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and grow up . . . or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. And we can encourage them to see things in the stars, find joy among colors and laughter as they play. A great book about dealing with loss and finding closure.
Get the lesson plan and activities for The Heart and the Bottle HERE
I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes
The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through–as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you–and shows you–who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!
Get the lesson plan and activities for I Am Every Good Thing HERE
Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola
Oliver Button is a sissy. At least that’s what the other boys call him. But here’s what Oliver Button really is: a reader, and an artist, and a singer, and a dancer, and more. What will his classmates say when he steps into the spotlight? This is a favorite book for back to school time!
Get the lesson plan and activities for Oliver Button is a Sissy HERE
Mexique by Maria Jose Ferrada
On May 27, 1937, over four hundred children sailed for Morelia, Mexico, fleeing the violence of the Spanish Civil War. Home was no longer safe, and Mexico was welcoming refugees by the thousands. Each child packed a suitcase and boarded the Mexique, expecting to return home in a few months. This was just a short trip, an extra-long summer vacation, they thought. But the war did not end in a few months, and the children stayed, waiting and wondering, in Mexico. When the war finally ended, a dictator—the Fascist Francisco Franco—ruled Spain. Home was even more dangerous than before. A book about an experience that led to post traumatic stress disorder.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Mexique HERE
Sweep by Louise Greig
Ed’s bad mood begins as something really small, hardly a thing at all. But before long it grows, gathers pace, and spreads through the whole town. Can Ed sweep his troubles away? A great book about how to deal with anger before you get swept away by it.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Sweep HERE
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
When Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he’s determined to get it out. But how? Well, by knocking it down with his shoe, of course. But strangely enough, it too gets stuck. And the only logical course of action . . . is to throw his other shoe. Only now it’s stuck! Surely there must be something he can use to get his kite unstuck. An orangutan? A boat? His front door? Yes, yes, and yes. And that’s only the beginning. A great book about problem-solving!
Get the lesson plan and activities for Stuck HERE
The Bad Seed by Jory John
This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know? He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! This seed cuts in line every time, stares at everybody and never listens. But what happens when one mischievous little seed changes his mind about himself, and decides that he wants to be—happy? A great book for showing students that they can make a change and to not always believe what others say to create self-fulfilling prophecies.
Get the lesson plan and activities for The Bad Seed HERE
The Cool Bean by Jory John
Everyone knows the cool beans. They’re sooooo cool. And then there’s the uncool has-bean: always on the sidelines, one bean unsuccessfully tries everything he can to fit in with the crowd—until one day the cool beans show him how it’s done.
Get the lesson plan and activities for The Cool Bean HERE
The Good Egg by Jory John
Meet the good egg. He’s a verrrrrry good egg indeed. But trying to be so good is hard when everyone else is plain ol’ rotten. As the other eggs in the dozen behave badly, the good egg starts to crack from all the pressure of feeling like he has to be perfect. So, he decides enough is enough! It’s time for him to make a change. A great book for dealing with pressure that students put on themselves and perfectionism.
Get the lesson plan and activities for The Good Egg HERE
You Are Special by Max Lucado
In the town of Wemmickville there lives a Wemmick named Punchinello. Each day the residents award stickers―gold stars for the talented, smart, and attractive Wemmicks, and gray dots for those who make mistakes or are just plain ordinary. Punchinello, covered in gray dots, begins to feel worthless. Then one day he visits Eli the woodcarver, his creator, and he learns that his worth comes from a different source. An excellent book about dealing with social relationships and bullying.
Get the lesson plan and activities for You Are Special HERE
In a Jar by Deborah Marcero
Llewellyn, a little rabbit, is a collector. He gathers things in jars–ordinary things like buttercups, feathers, and heart-shaped stones. Then he meets another rabbit, Evelyn, and together they begin to collect extraordinary things–like rainbows, the sound of the ocean, and the wind just before snow falls. And, best of all, when they hold the jars and peer inside, they remember all the wonderful things they’ve seen and done. But one day, Evelyn has sad news: Her family is moving away. How can the two friends continue their magical collection–and their special friendship–from afar?
Get the lesson plan and activities for In a Jar HERE
Saturday by Oge Mora
In this heartfelt and universal story, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown…until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all. Throughout the story, the mother and daughter practice calming strategies with breathing.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Saturday HERE
The Three Questions by Jon Muth
Young Nikolai is searching for the answers to his three questions: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?But it is his own response to a stranger’s cry for help that leads him directly to the answers he is looking for. This profound and inspiring book is about compassion and being engaged in each moment. An excellent book about mindfulness!
Get the lesson plan and activities for The Three Questions HERE
So Few Of Me by Peter H. Reynolds
Leo’s list of things to do keeps growing, until one day he wishes, “If only there were two of me.” Just as the words are out of his mouth, poof! Another Leo appears! Two Leos become three, three become four, and four become more . . . but Leo can’t help but notice that he has even more to do than before. As he struggles to deal with his overcomplicated life, Leo realizes that there may be a simpler solution to his overscheduling woes.
Get the lesson plan and activities for So Few Of Me HERE
Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
Ramon loved to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere. It’s what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single reckless remark by Ramon’s older brother, Leon, turns Ramon’s carefree sketches into joyless struggles. Luckily for Ramon, though, his little sister, Marisol, sees the world differently. She opens his eyes to something a lot more valuable than getting things just “right.”
Get the lesson plan and activities for Ish HERE
You Matter by Christian Robinson
In this full, bright, and beautiful picture book, many different perspectives around the world are deftly and empathetically explored—from a pair of bird-watchers to the pigeons they’re feeding. Young readers will be drawn into the luminous illustrations inviting them to engage with the world in a new way and see how everyone is connected, and that everyone matters.
Get the lesson plan and activities for You Matter HERE
I Am Peace by Susan Verde
Mindfulness means being fully in the present moment. Children can learn how to manage their emotions, make good choices, and balance their busy lives by learning to be mindful, express emotions through speech, find empathy through imagination, and wonder at the beauty of the natural world.
Get the lesson plan and activities for I Am Peace HERE
I Am Human by Susan Verde
Being human means we are full of possibility. We learn, we dream, we wonder at the world around us. But we also make mistakes and can feel fearful or sad. I Am Human affirms that we can make good choices by acting with compassion and having empathy for others and ourselves. When we find common ground, we can feel connected to the great world around us and mindfully strive to be our best selves.
Get the lesson plan and activities for I Am Human HERE
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . . In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?
Get the lesson plan and activities for They All Saw a Cat HERE
Best Children’s Books About Mental Health
What are some of your favorite children’s books about mental health? Are there any must read mental health children’s books that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!
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