Mental health is something that everyone deals with; some may have more difficulty than others, but we all suffer in different ways, sometimes without even knowing it.
Being mentally healthy during childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills, and how to cope when there are problems. Mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, in school, and their communities.
Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems with getting through the day. Many children occasionally experience fears and worries or display disruptive behaviors. If symptoms are serious and persistent and interfere with school, home, or play activities, the child may be diagnosed with a mental disorder.
Mental health is not simply the absence of a mental disorder. Children who don’t have a mental disorder might differ in how well they are doing. Children who have the same diagnosed mental disorder might have different strengths and weakness in their development, coping skills, and quality of life. To help understand how individual children are doing, adults need to focus on mental health as a continuum as well as identifying specific mental disorders.
Me and My Sister
By Rose Robbins
Getting along with your sister is never easy—especially if your brains work in different ways! Based on the author’s childhood, Me and My Sister is a gentle exploration of growing up with an autistic sibling.
Life in a neurodiverse home isn’t straightforward: these siblings communicate and behave in different ways. They’re also unique people with different likes and dislikes. Misunderstandings are bound to happen! But despite the occasional bickering and confusion, maybe this brother and sister can discover new ways to love and help one another.
Siblings of all backgrounds will connect to this playfully illustrated story about embracing difference.
Phone Call with a Fish
Written by Silvia Vecchini
Illustrated by Sualzo
A story for anyone who has felt like a fish out of water
There’s a boy in class who doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t yell when a student steps on his foot, and he writes his answers to the teacher’s questions on the board. One of his classmates is trying to understand why he’s so quiet, but she can’t figure it out. But then one day the class goes to the science museum, and she discovers a phone with an aquarium full of fish on the other end of the line. And the fish, as it turns out, aren’t silent after all—they just have their own way of communicating.
This empathy-building story will encourage readers to approach others with compassion and understanding.
Talking Is Not My Thing
Written and illustrated by Rose Robbins
This little sister might not use words, but she’s got plenty to say! Narrated through thought bubbles, this energetic book invites readers into the day of a nonverbal girl with autism. She has so much to do—games to play, spaghetti to eat, and a missing stuffed animal to find! Sometimes life can be noisy and overwhelming, but something new is always around the corner. Talking isn’t the only way to make a joke, ask for Grandma’s help, or surprise your brother…
Illustrated in bright colors, Talking Is Not My Thing is a joyful portrait of neurodiverse family life.
Back to Front and Upside Down
It’s the principal Mr. Slipper’s birthday, and while the rest of the class gets busy writing cards for the occasion, Stan becomes frustrated when his letters come out all in a muddle. Stan is afraid to ask for help, until a friend assures him that nobody’s good at everything. And after lots and lots of practice, Stan’s letters come out the right way round and the right way up.
This delightful book deals with a common childhood frustration and will remind readers that practice pays off and that everyone has to ask for help sometimes.
A compelling novel in verse about mental illness
Laura is a typical fifteen-year-old growing up in the 1960s, navigating her way through classes, friendships, and even a new romance. But she’s carrying around a secret: her mother is suffering from a mental illness. No one in Laura’s family will talk about her mother’s past hospitalizations or increasingly erratic behavior, and Laura is confused and frightened. Laura finds some refuge in art, but when her mother suffers a breakdown after taking painting back up again herself, even art ceases to provide much comfort.
Eloquent and compelling, this powerful novel-in-verse tackles complex themes in a way that will have readers rooting for Laura to find the courage to get the answers she needs.