Fiction for Students – Mental Health and Well-Being


Reading books have always been a way teachers and parents help children and young adults learn to make some sense cope with their world. As I prepare to be a speaker and panelist at the 2016 Reading For The Love Of It conference in Toronto Feb 17 & 18, I have been exploring books about mental health and mental illness.

A few months ago on a Saturday morning, sitting on a big, comfy sofa upstairs at Toronto bookstore Mabel’s Fables , Erin Grittani, Books For Schools Manager spent an informative couple of hours with me sharing an interesting stack of books she had pulled for me on the topic.  She warned me that kids today are pretty savvy and look for books that teach them about their questions around issues like mindfulness, anxiety and depression, for example, but don’t want to be hit smack in the face with the issue.

Grittani compiled a few books by picture book, middle grade and young adults categories in the recent Reading For The Love Of It Newsletter. This list intrigued me and I dug further into ones I selected at the bookstore.  Here are the ones I have become familiar with and would recommend:

Awesome is Everywhere by Neil Pasricha

Marilyn’s Monster by Michelle Knudsen and Matt Phelan

Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly and Lisa Brown

Jane, The fox and me by Fanny Britt and Susan Ouriou

Dare!: A Story About Standing Up to Bullying in Schools by Erin Frankel and Paula Heaphy

Happiness Doesn’t Come From Headstands by Tamara Levitt

Nobody: A Story About Overcoming Bullying by Erin Frankel and Paula Heaphy

To This Day: For the Bullied by Shane Koyczan

Footer Davis is Probably Crazy by Susan Vaught

Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten


These titles should be available at the Mabel’s Fables exhibit at the conference.


On a related note, I have been impressed by the work of Iolanda Scarcello, (Social Worker, Area B in the TDSB) who wrote an article in the TDSB Mental Health and Well-Being Newsletter (Jan. 2016) entitled Bibliotherapy.  (Click on the link) This was a new term for me at the time and I liked her explanation. “Overall, bibliotherapy is an interactive and engaging way to foster self-awareness and introduce helpful coping skills for various real-life situations.” She included four sample books, consisting of fiction and non-fiction titles, suitable for children and adolescents. I encourage you to read Scarcello’s article in full.

She included:

Can I Catch It Like a Cold? by Centre For Addiction And Mental Health and Joe Weissmann

Ian’s Walk: A Story About Autism by Laurie Lears and Karen Ritz

When Sophie Gets Angry…Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess


This learning through reading approach is highly recommended as an additional strategy for your mental health and well-being planning team at school working closely with the teacher-librarian.  Let me know further titles you suggest!