May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a topic close to my heart. I connect emotions and feelings to mental health given the wide range of emotions and feelings I’ve experienced during my episodes of mental illness. It took a recent, debilitating episode of mental illness for me to learn that we don’t have to label emotions and feelings as good or bad (as we almost always do). Instead, we can experience them for what they are and in doing that, we often find peace.
I’m working on a picture book manuscript (or two) that explores the complexity of emotions and feelings related to mental illness. Given it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite picture books that explore difficult emotions and feelings. All of these books mirror experiences, feelings and thoughts I’ve had, which is why they make my picks. Share some of your favorite books that explore difficult feelings and emotions in the comments!
Author: Michael Ian Black
Illustrator: Debbie Ridpath Ohi
This story approaches sadness with a touch of humor, making a somber subject more lighthearted. I fell in love with this book for three other reasons:
The message that everyone feels sad sometimes.
The message that not every feeling has a quick fix. You may feel sad for awhile, but you won’t always feel that way.
The message that sometimes, the best thing you can do for someone is to be there for them.
Author/Illustrator: Francesca Sanna
This book makes my list because:
The message that everyone has fear(s). Including adults!
The message that you can continue to do things (and make new friends) despite your fears, no matter how large your fear may grow.
The vulnerability in the author’s note.
Author: Victoria M. Sanchez
Illustrator: Jess Golden
I relate to Pilar on many levels. I also appreciate the author’s note in the back that mentions that anxiety will never just “go away.” It’s a realistic and helpful message to hear.
Pilar has many worries and her body’s reaction to her worries scares her.
Pilar has a love and a passion, but her worries make her fearful of trying.
Pilar has a support system, and breathing techniques, that help her push through her worries.