Anxiety, Depression, and Mental Health

Anxiety and depression can take many forms and have many causes. As children learn to navigate the world and deal with these problems, reading about another person’s experience can be incredibly empowering, and reassure children that they are not alone. 

Compiled by:
Sam O.

Juvenile Fiction


Kwame Alexander
(J Fiction – J Alexander)

Twelve-year-old Nick loves soccer and hates books, but soon learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.


Roddy Doyle
(J Fiction – J Doyle)

The Black Dog of depression has descended over Dublin, but siblings Rayzer and Gloria are determined to stop it, and soon they are joined by thousands of other children and some magical animals on a chase through the streets, parks, and beaches of Dublin.

Footer Davis Probably is Crazy

Susan Vaught
(Juvenile Fiction – J Vaught)

Eleven-year-old Footer and her friends investigate when a nearby farm is burned, the farmer murdered, and his children disappear, but as they follow the clues, Footer starts having flashbacks and wonders if she is going crazy like her mother, who is back in a mental institution near their Mississippi home. Suggested for ages 10–13.

Nobody’s Perfect: A Story for Children about Perfectionism

Ellen Flanagan Burns
(Juvenile Fiction – J Burns)

Sally overcomes her perfectionism when her teachers and mother help her realize that making mistakes is a part of learning, and that doing her best is good enough. Suggested for ages 8–11.


Wesley King
(Juvenile Fiction – J King)

A thirteen-year-old boy's life revolves around hiding his obsessive compulsive disorder until a girl at school, who is unkindly nicknamed Psycho Sara, notices him for the first time and he gets a mysterious note that changes everything. Suggested for 8–12.


Cynthia Lord
(Juvenile Fiction – J Lord)

Frustrated at life with an autistic brother, twelve-year-old Catherine longs for a normal existence but her world is further complicated by a friendship with a young paraplegic. Suggested for ages 9–13.


Ellen Potter
(J Fiction – J Potter)

Picked on, overweight genius Owen tries to invent a television that can see the past to find out what happened the day his parents were killed.

Some Kind of Happiness

Claire Legrand
(J Fiction – J Legrand)

Finley Hart is sent to her grandparents' house for the summer, but her anxiety and overwhelmingly sad days continue until she escapes into her writings which soon turn mysteriously real and she realizes she must save this magical world in order to save herself.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl

Veera Hiranandani
(J Fiction – J Hiranandani)

When Sonia's father loses his job and she must move from her small, supportive private school to a public middle school, the half-Jewish half-Indian sixth-grader experiences culture shock as she tries to navigate the school's unfamiliar social scene, and after her father is diagnosed with clinical depression, she finds herself becoming even more confused about herself and her family.


Brian Selznick
(Juvenile Fiction – J Selznick)

Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City. He meets Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben's story is told in words; Rose's in pictures. Suggested for ages 9–14.

Juvenile Nonfiction

Anxiety and Phobias

Carrie Iorizzo
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 616.8522 Iorizzo)

This informative title examines different anxiety disorders, including their causes, symptoms, effects, and treatment options. A chapter on caring for others discusses how anxiety and phobias affect young people with siblings and parents who have the disorder. Suggested for ages 10–13.

Danny and the Blue Cloud

James Foley
(J Nonfiction – J 616.8527 Foley)

Danny the bear has a blue cloud of depression hanging over his head, until he gets help from Barnaby the rabbit.

The Emotions Survival Guide
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 152.4 Emotions)

Girls and boys ages 8 to 12 will love this nonfiction feelings survival guide featuring advice from the Emotions. Suggested for ages 8–12.

Keep Calm! My Stress Busting Tips

Gina Bellisario
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 155.9042 Bel)

A busy girl who feels stressed by her full schedule of school, soccer, piano lessons, homework, and chores learns from her parents ways to deal with her stress. Suggested for ages 6–10.

Manage Feelings

Sarah Tieck
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 152.4 Tie)

Examines ways to manage and process emotions effectively, including writing a journal, talking to an adult, or seeking professional help. Suggested for ages 6–9.

The Princess and the Fog

Lloyd Jones
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 618.9285 Jon)

Explains what depression is and how it affects people through a story about a princess and a fog around her that she cannot get rid of on her own. Suggested for ages 5-8.

School Made Easier: A Kid’s Guide to Study Strategies and Anxiety-Busting Tools

Wendy Moss
(Juvenile Nonfiction J 371.3028 Moss)

The authors focus on how to manage that academic stress and the emotions that might interfere with academic success. They teach students ways to reduce their anxiety, increase their confidence in school, and study more effectively. Also includes case studies of real kids, self-assessment checklists, and lots of quick tips to help you stay calm on test day. Suggested for ages 913.

What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety

Dawn Huebner
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 155.4124 Huebner)

Teaches school-age children cognitive-behavioral techniques to reduce and overcome anxiety and fears, through writing and drawing activities and self-help strategies. Suggested for ages 6 and up.

What To Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming OCD

Dawn Huebner
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 6148.9385 Huebner)

Describes what obsessive-compulsive disorder is and how it works, and teaches young readers techniques to reduce and overcome it through writing and drawing activities and self-help exercises and strategies. Suggested for ages 8 and up.

Juvenile Picture Books

The Big Test

Julie Danneberg
(Juvenile Picture Books – EJ Dan)

Mrs. Hartwell is concerned that preparing her students to take the Big Test is only making them nervous, and so she thinks of a way to help them relax. Suggested for ages 5–8.

I Don’t Want to Go

Addie Meyer Sanders
(Juvenile Picture Books – EJ Sander)

Joey is visiting his grandparents on his own for the very first time and is nervous about being far from home. He is sure this will be the worst trip ever. Suggested for ages 5–10.

Jack's Worry

Sam Zuppardi
(Juvenile Picture Book - Ej Zup)

Jack has been looking forward to playing the trumpet in his first concert, but on the morning of the big day, Jack becomes anxious about performing and his worry starts to grow. Suggested for ages 4-8.

Jake Starts School

Michael Wright
(Juvenile Picture Books – EJ Wright)

No one can pry a frightened Jake away from his parents on the first day of school, and so the three must watch as his classmates have fun until, at the end of the day, his teacher finally gets him to let go. Suggested for ages 4–7.

Little Owl Lost

Chris Haughton
(Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Haughton)

While his mother is away finding food, a newborn owl falls out of his nest and anxiously tries to find her, receiving help from various forest animals. Suggested for ages 3–6.

Llama Llama Misses Mama

Anna Dewdney
(Juvenile Picture Books – Dewdney)

Llama Llama experiences separation anxiety on his first day of nursery school.

Mr. Worry: A Story About OCD

Greg Swearingen
(Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Swearingen)

Eight-year-old Kevin is frustrated by his need to check things and repeat actions over and over until a counselor diagnoses obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and teaches him ways to manage this condition. Includes a note for parents and teachers explaining OCD. Suggested for ages 5–10.

Noni is Nervous

Heather Hartt-Sussman
(Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Hartt-Sussman)

This is the story of a lovely little girl who is nervous about many things. Noni finds a way to control her nerves and work through her anxiety, making life much more bearable for everyone! Suggested for ages 3–7.

Ready for Anything

Keiko Kasza
(Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Kasza)

Raccoon is nervous about all of the things that could spoil a picnic, from bees to dragons, until Duck convinces him that surprises can be fun. Suggested for ages 4–8.

Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn : for Kids

John Maxwell
(Juvenile Picturebook Ej Max)

Wendy and Wade are finally old enough to play Woggleball and consult their Papa about how to win, but his advice about starting well and staying positive is not easy, at first. Suggested for ages 4-8.