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Celebrating Children’s Mental Health Week

By Emma Rogers, Holly Allwright


Originally launched in 2015, Children’s Mental Health Week works with hundreds of schools, children, parents and carers to raise funds and awareness for children’s mental health. The aim is to empower children and young people to voice their worries and concerns. In its tenth year, Children’s Mental Health Week will celebrate the theme “My Voice Matters” from 5 – 11 February. This will be a fantastic way to equip children with the tools they need to express themselves through literature!


Early Years


Ellie on the Mat by Danielle Marie Price


It's a beautiful day: the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the smell of pancakes is in the air, but Ellie the Elephant still feels grumpy. When she asks her mum for help, she brings out a yoga mat to ease Ellie’s case of the grumps. After trying out some yoga poses and breathing exercises, Ellie feels happy and healthy again! This book is a fantastic way to introduce mindfulness to little ones. The book is targeted at 4 to 8-year-olds and shows them how to express their feelings confidently.


Dark Cloud by Anna Lazowski


Published in May 2023, Dark Cloud is a story about a little girl who has a dark cloud that follows her everywhere. She visualises it as a ball of worries, a swirl of fog and a long shadow but, no matter what, it is always with her. Then, one day, Abigail begins to study her dark cloud more deeply and realises she can trap it in her sandcastle on the beach and sometimes she can even step away from it and feel the heat of the sun on her skin. This picture book perfectly captures how depression can look and feel and is described as a great choice for teaching social-emotional learning, resilience and critical thinking.


Middle Grade


Hopewell High: All Too Much by Jo Cotterill


Published in 2017, Hopewell High: All Too Much covers themes such as friendship, family and feelings that work in tandem to discuss mental health. Samilra is the youngest ever person to be asked to join her school’s quiz team and while she wants to accept, she also feels pressure to balance this on top of her school studies. In order to make her parents and teachers proud, she comes up with a coping strategy that could have serious consequences. Hopewell High shows the daily struggles young people go through, and its format with interspersed line drawings makes it digestible to a wider audience.


The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson


Consumed by his OCD, 12-year-old Matthew has not been to school for weeks and instead spends his days gazing out of his bedroom window and observing the neighbourhood. One day, when a toddler goes missing, Matthew may be one of the only people who can shed light on the situation. But with every day becoming more and more challenging for him, will he be able to help the investigation while also protecting his mental health? The combination of mental health with a mystery makes for an engaging and captivating read while also raising greater awareness of OCD.


A Better Day by Dr Alex George


Winner of The British Book Award 2023 for Children’s Non-Fiction Book of the Year, A Better Day is written by the Youth Mental Health Ambassador and former Love Island contestant, Alex George. This handbook is a positive and practical toolkit to help young people talk about their feelings and switch their mindset. Young people face many issues today, from peer pressure and exam stress to online trolls and anxiety. With this toolkit, Alex hopes to help children better understand their mental health and teach them how to care for it with confidence.


Young Adult


Turtles All the Way Down by John Green


The bestselling author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars published this unflinchingly raw novel about the realities of living with both OCD and anxiety in 2017. Aza and her best friend, Daisy, are in pursuit of a billionaire on the run, in hopes of scoring the one-hundred-thousand-dollar bounty. Green is frequently praised for his ability to treat teenagers with the same respect as adults instead of minimising their issues, as can sometimes be seen. Because of this, the representation of obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety is both harrowing and hopeful. Rather than providing solutions for his protagonist to overcome her problems, Green instead paints a beautiful picture of teenagers happily living their lives in spite of their issues.


The Silence that Binds Us by Joanna Ho


Joanna Ho is both a writer and an educator with a focus on anti-bias and anti-racism. Her 2022 novel follows Chinese, Taiwanese and American May Chen as she navigates both home and school life. But, when her brother, the “golden child” of the family, commits suicide her world is shattered. Now, in the wake of this tragedy, the Chen’s become victim of racist accusations and May attempts to defend her family’s name through her writing to varying success rates. As a Young Adult debut, Ho’s novel is astounding in its treatment of mental health, generational trauma, friendship, family and systemic racism.

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