5 delightful books to boost children’s mental health and make you smile

There are lots of books to help children with their mental health and, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I think they can be pretty great self-help for grown-ups too! Here are five of my favourites to help children cope with feelings of anger, anxiety, depression, grief and low-self-esteem.


To help with anger choose … A Volcano in My Tummy

Tell me about this book in three sentences!

A Volcano in My Tummy has twenty-five lessons, which offer teachers and caregivers creative ways to help children learn about anger. It provides ideas about effective responses to anger in an easy-to-read format. The exercises are designed for children between the ages of six and ten but can be therapeutically useful for adults experiencing anger too.

Give me an example of a lesson?

Lesson two looks at the impact of bottling up anger and looks at the difference between feeling angry and the behaviours that might follow. Teachers are encouraged to find a bottle with a cork so that children can write their angry feelings on a piece of paper and then discuss how it might feel to have the anger bottled up. There is a worksheet with a drawing of a bottle where people can write all the things that they might be bottling up. Finally, children think about other ways they might handle their anger.

To help with anxiety choose … The Huge Bag Of Worries

Tell me about this book in three sentences!

Jenny is being followed by a huge bag of worries. She does everything to stop them following her around but the bag keeps on growing! Beautifully-illustrated, this book explores how the worries make Jenny feel and what she can do to ease their burden.

Why do you love this book so much?

The worries in this book are represented by little monsters. They’re obviously very worrying but I’ve never seen anything quite so cute and their facial expressions are priceless! I like to think I do a great impression of them.

The Huge Bag of Worries has sound advice too, reinforced by the beautiful pictures. One illustration shows two of the cutest worries you’ll ever see. Each has a label on it  – one for mum and the other for dad. They’re sprinting as quick as their little legs will carry them. Some worries are “sent packing because they belong to other people”, the book explains. Mmm, you think: what worries might I be carrying around on behalf of someone else? Could I send them packing too?

To help with depression choose … When Sadness Comes To Call

Tell me about this book in three sentences!

One day Sadness comes to visit a little girl. She feels overwhelmed by Sadness to begin with but then, slowly, she learns to makes friends with her unexpected visitor. The pictures tell a thousand words too in this warm, comforting book that takes the fear out of sadness.

Which is your favourite illustration?

It changes every day! At the moment, it is one of the final drawings in the book where the little girl cuddles sadness to sleep so it knows it is not alone. On the wall hangs a picture of Sadness and the little girl holding hands. It melts my heart!

I’ve popped a review of When Sadness Comes To Call in the Library if you want to read more!

To help with loss choose … Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine

Tell me about this book in three sentences!

For any child who has to face the the death of a loved one there is Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine. Published by Winson’s Wish – the charity for bereaved children – this colourful book has activities to help children talk about their feelings. It reassures children that their feelings are normal and offers ways to remember the past and look to the future.

What activity inspires you?

There is an activity where you make a friendship band of the people who care for you: each thread represents a different person. Crafty activities are brilliant for offering mindful escape and it can really help to take a moment for this kind of self-care. The finished friendship band not only reminds you that other people care for you but that you have cared for yourself and can create more pockets of time to do something that might ease the pain of grief for a moment.

To help with self-esteem choose … What to Do When Good Isn’t Good Enough

Tell me about this book in three sentences!

What To Do When Good Isn’t Good Enough explains how to recognise perfectionism, describes how it might make you feel and offers practical ways to overcome it. Easy-to-read and straight-to-the-point, the book’s text is broken up with simple illustrations and case studies. The first book to make me realise I am a perfectionist!

What were your main takeaways from the book?

I had a much clearer understanding of how perfectionists think, act and feel having read this book plus I was more equipped with tools to help challenge, and overcome, perfectionistic tendencies. I’ve even begun to embrace the failure CV since reading this book! You can read my post on 5 ways to take control of your inner critic if you want to find out more about the failure CV.

Let me know which children’s books you love for boosting children’s mental health and do check out the brilliant resources provided by Place2Be who organise Children’s Mental Health Week every February.

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