These Books Will Change the Way We Discuss Mental Health With Our Children
Child mental health is so incredibly important, but it is now more vital than ever. Studies have shown that the mental health of our children has declined throughout the pandemic, and depression and anxiety are still on the rise. When I was a child, we never learned about mental health, and my various mental illnesses went undiagnosed until I entered adulthood. It was only when I experienced a nervous breakdown as an adult and was admitted to a behavioral health hospital that I received my diagnoses. At this time, I also began to work on and think about my mental health for the first time. Fortunately, mental health is more widely discussed now that it is more of a central topic regarding the impacts of the pandemic on our overall health.
I had the pleasure of coming across a new line of books for children that highlight heavy topics, or topics that may be difficult for parents, guardians or caretakers to discuss with their children. I was excited to see that emotions, depression and anxiety were three of the main topics emphasized. The company is called A Kids Book About and they offer various interactive books that cover heavy topics including racism, LGBTQA+ and nonbinary individuals. These books are excellent for parents and educators to discuss these topics with children when they may not be sure how to approach the subject. As a mental health specialist, I was excited to read “A Kids Book About Emotions,” “A Kids Book About Depression” and “A Kids Book About Anxiety.” Upon reading these books, I was incredibly impressed with how they approached the subject without dumbing it down and respecting children as individuals with diverse experiences.
“A Kids Book About Emotions”
“A Kids Book About Emotions” was a particularly fun book to review because it doubles as a coloring book and includes activities for caretakers and children to complete together regarding emotions. I was surprised by how there aren’t really any illustrations. Instead, there are various forms of artful lettering that allow the reader to color them in. But what I was most impressed with about this book is that it wasn’t dumbed down for children. Emotions were written about in an easy-to-understand way, and almost every page included a space for children to describe their own emotions and learn how to verbalize how they are feeling. I think that this book is groundbreaking in that it teaches children how to describe and manage their emotions, which is something I never learned growing up. And not only does it teach children how to express their emotions, but it validates every emotion and tells children that it is absolutely OK to feel what they are feeling. I am amazed by this book, and I will be sharing it with every parent and educator I know.
“A Kids Book About Anxiety”
“A Kids Book About Anxiety” is a beautiful book that explains anxiety to young readers, while also explaining the author’s experience with anxiety. The illustrations throughout the book were very simple, which put more focus on the wording and allowed for discussion between child and adult readers. I was happy to see how this book explained anxiety well, but also allowed for adults to share their experiences with anxiety and further explain this mental illness to their children. The book also did well to differentiate between anxiety and nervousness, while explaining how the child may be able to determine what they are feeling. Included in the book were also two stories, one story where the author feels out of control with their anxiety, and the second where the author was able to identify their anxiety and practice self-care, with their parent’s understanding. In this way, the book teaches parents and guardians how to support their children who may have anxiety, while allowing them to experience what they are experiencing. Overall, this book was educations for both children and adults and allowed for further discussion, which I appreciated.
“A Kids Book About Depression”
The last book I was able to review was “A Kids Book About Depression.” I have dealt with depression and anxiety for many years, and I was excited to find that there are books that introduce these topics to children from an early age. The book is essentially author Kileah McIlvain’s story of having depression, and she does an excellent job of describing what depression feels like, and she reiterates how impactful it was for her to receive help. By normalizing receiving help for mental illnesses, children will learn from a young age that there is nothing wrong with seeking help for mental concerns and that mental health is just as important as physical health — and it absolutely should be talked about.
Like “A Kids Book About Anxiety,” there weren’t really any illustrations throughout the book, but the lettering was artistic. I think the simple layout of the book allows for adults and children to discuss what is being written without distraction, while also allowing children to imagine for themselves what depression may feel like, or even connecting their own experiences with depression to what is being written.
A Kids Book About, Inc. is an incredible publisher that offers books for children and adults to read together about heavy topics, and their collection of books cover a diverse range of subjects. I am very excited to see these books about mental illness and emotions become available, and I will be utilizing them in my work concerning child mental health. I cannot recommend these books enough, as well as the plethora of other books available on diverse subjects. I honestly believe that they will change the way we talk to our children about difficult-to-understand subjects, both as parents and as professionals.
To order, visit: https://akidsco.com/collections/all-hardback-books
Getty image by Amorn Suriyan