2021 Reading Challenge: Books About Mental Health

Join us in reading one book about mental health a month

Is reading more books on your goals list for 2021? What about educating yourself on mental health in hopes to break the stigma? Why not do both and join us on this journey to read one book a month that talks about mental health to gain a better understanding of the world around us.

Each month we'll provide 3 book suggestions, one self-help/non-fiction book, one young adult book, and one children's book, so the whole family can get involved. At the end of each month, we'll reflect and discuss the different mental health aspects of the book and hopefully get the conversation started for you to continue.

Here's the full list of books for the 2021 reading challenge so you have an idea of what to look forward to:

woman relaxed reading book about mental health

Non-fiction: Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting by Terrie M. Williams
In honor of February being Black History Month, this book chronicles Terrie M. Williams' own experience with depression and how race plays a huge role in her emotions. It also forces us to take a look at our current society and the racial tension that unfortunately still exists.

YA: OCD Love Story by Cory Ann Haydu
February is the month of love, so why not kick things off with a love story that incorporates the real experience of mental illness and how it affects relationships. OCD Love Story follows Bea, Beck, and all the challenges that come along with OCD along the way to finding love.

Children's: Hector's Favorite Place by Jo Rooks
This book tackles the serious topic of anxiety in a way that children can understand. Hector has worries that keep him from leaving home. This is a great book to introduce your children to the concept of anxiety and learn how to overcome their worries.


Non-fiction: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
This book is a story of a therapist, her own problems, and her clients' experiences all wrapped up into a compelling and hilarious tale that hones in in serious, thought-provoking topics.

YA: Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
Prozac Nation is a personal memoir written by ELizabeth Wurtzel herself, chronicling her struggles with depression, mental health, and living as a young adult in a society that doesn't seem to care. This is a great read for any teen or young adult suffering from mental health issues to feel like they're not alone.

Children's: Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley
This is a great illustrated children's book that fights toxic masculinity and teaches children that showing emotion is okay, even for boys!


Non-fiction: Learned Hopefulness: The Power of Positivity to Overcome Depression by Dan Tomasulo, Ph.D.
April is recognized as the National Month of Hope, so why not celebrate with this transformative guide to help those suffering from depression find hope again.

YA: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Now known as a major motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower began as a coming-of-age novel by Stephen Chbosky tackling the difficult topics of depression, trauma, and how mental health affects those surrounding you.

Children's: Armond Goes to a Party: A Book About Asperger’s and Friendship by Nancy Carlson and Armond Isaak
April is Autism Awareness Month! This children's book demonstrates how autism or Asperger's can manifest in children and how the stimulus at a party may be too much for them. It's a great learning tool, and it's co-written by Armond himself.


Non-fiction: Get Out of My Head: Inspiration for Overthinkers in an Anxious World by Meredith Arthur
Everyone experiences anxiety in different ways, but this overarching self-help book offers various techniques and exercises to help address worries and calm stressful thoughts.

YA: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greensberg
Did you know May is Schizophrenia Awareness Month? I Never Promised You a Rose Garden follows the experience of 16-year-old Deborah as she suffers from delusions caused by schizophrenia. It's an emotionally gripping tale that shows the truth of the disorder rather than the media portrayal.

Children's: Can I Catch It Like a Cold? Coping With a Parent’s Depression by The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
This is a wonderful children's book created by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health that discusses symptoms of depression and mental health in parents and how to cope. It explains what depression is and how to treat it in a way children can understand.


Non-fiction: We're All Mad Here: The No-Nonsense Guide to Living with Social Anxiety by Claire Eastham
From going to college, to handling social media, to surviving the workplace, and all of the awkward situations in between, this guide provides humorous tips and real life experience on how to deal with social anxiety.

YA: It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Using his own experience in a psychiatric hospital, Vizzini paints a gripping portrait of a young man coming to terms with reality after a failed suicide attempt. Shining a light on the very real and impactful pressures that are placed on teens in regards to their futures, this novel exhibits how anxiety can manifest in many different forms.

Children's: Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
Pride month is all about embracing your identity and owning who you truly are. This children's book follows the tale of a blue crayon mistakenly labeled as red and his journey to find his true self despite the misunderstandings and confusion along the way.

mother and son reading children's book about mental health

Non-fiction: Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser
This comprehensive guide is all about embracing the difficult times of the past to inform a better future. Using both spiritual and psychiatric methodologies, Lesser shows how to raise from the ashes.

YA: Looking for Alaska by John Green
World-renowned young adult author John Green explores mental health in teens, young love, and natural curiosity. Looking for Alaska has also been adapted into a Hulu series to binge after reading!

Children's: When Sophie Gets Angry — Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang
This book explores the emotion of anger and how it can manifest into temper tantrums, but that the feeling does not last forever. This is a great read for children who exhibit defiant behaviors.


Non-fiction: First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson
Wilson takes her own experience with anxiety to teach others how to accept their condition and live a full life despite it. It offers tips, stories, and inspiration while keeping a light, good-hearted tone.

YA: Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Before Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie starred in the film adaptation, Susanna Kaysen published her gripping novel Girl, Interrupted. This book is a memoir of her personal experience in a psychiatric hospital, the women she met along the way, and how mental health was treated in the 1960's.

Children's: Lola’s Words Disappeared by Elaheh Bos
This book explores the condition of selective mutism, when children may be vocal at sometimes, and completely quiet in others due to their surroundings. This is a great learning tool that shows children not to judge others while exploring how to deal with anxiety.

teen girl reading book about mental health

Non-fiction: How To Fail by Elizabeth Day
This book is all about embracing failure and finding silver linings in all facets of life. Based on her popular podcast of the same name, Day demonstrates how to accept failure and succeed better.

YA: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. The Virgin Suicides is a classic coming-of-age story that follows the Lisbon sisters, the taboo of suicide, and the difficulties of growing up as a teen girl.

Children's: A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes
This is a great book for any child who has experienced trauma of any kind. This book does not specify the traumatic event that Sherman witnessed, so the experience is universal for any child who may suffer from PTSD.


Non-fiction: (Don't) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health by Kelly Jensen
This book is a conglomeration of 33 different lived experiences of individuals suffering from mental health conditions and how it has affected their lives. It explores the stigma of mental illness and shows that you're not alone.

YA: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This classic novel is a must-read for any young adult suffering from mental health issues. Sylvia Plath beautifully writes the experience of depression, suicide, and the darkness that grips many.

Children's: Cory Stories: A Kid's Book about Living with ADHD by Jeanne Kraus
In a series of short snippets and vignettes, this children's book explores the condition of ADHD and how it affects the life of Cory in many ways. It covers everything from medication, therapy, schooling, and more.


Non-fiction: Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
This is an incredibly emotional recounting of living with depression and anxiety in the society we live in. Everything from technology to pop culture affects the human psyche, and this book shows how.

YA: By The Time You Read This I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
After years of constant bullying by her peers, Daelyn feels helpless. She has attempted suicide before and failed and is determined to get it right this time with the guidance of others through a website. This is an emotional novel that explores the term coined, "bullycide" and shows just how cruel teenagers can be.

Children's: Up and Down the Worry Hill: A Children’s Book About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Its Treatment by Aureen Pinto Wagner, Ph.D.
The intricacies of OCD are difficult for anyone to understand, let alone children. This book uses the metaphor of "Worry Hill" to explain the symptoms, condition, and treatment options in a way children can easily grasp.


Non-fiction: Detox Your Thoughts: Quit Negative Self-Talk for Good and Discover the Life You've Always Wanted by Andrea Bonior, Ph.D.
Often times we are our own worst enemy. This self-help book demonstrates how to remove toxicity from your life and learn your true worth.

YA: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
This harrowing tale follows two young girls suffering from an eating disorder that leads one of them to lose their life. Following the death of her best friend, Wintergirls explores grief, guilt, and most importantly, hope.

Children's: The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
Explaining the concept of death to children is never easy, but this book helps guide parents in teaching their children coping skills in response to grief. It assures children that even if someone is not physically there, there is always an invisible string connecting them.

young girl reading book about mental health

We hope you'll join us on this journey of education, understanding, and reducing the stigma in today's society. Check back in each month for a discussion post!