Many children and adults with mental health diagnoses benefit from taking medication to reduce their symptoms (e.g., to improve mood, reduce anxiety, improve attention). In fact, many studies have shown that a combination of medication and therapy is most effective at reducing symptoms for many people. Every person is different, though, and there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation here. Psychiatrists, pediatricians/physicians, and psychiatric nurse practitioners can prescribe these medications.
Age range: 2nd grade through 5th grade.
Recommended for: This book is great for a child who has recently been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and/or who is considering whether and how to share about their diagnosis with friends and classmates. Written by a 9-year-old boy with Tourette Syndrome, it normalizes and validates many experiences common to kids with tics. It provides hope that others will accept them and that Tourette Syndrome will not hold them back from pursuing their dreams (make sure to read the foreword and afterword!).
Age range: Kindergarten through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book is best for a child who has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. It is a surprisingly charming, car-themed overview of ADHD and its treatment. It reviews common symptoms of ADHD (including hyperactivity and inattention), the process of getting evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD (in this book the diagnosis is a motor that runs too fast), and treatment with a psychologist and a psychiatrist–“special mechanics” who are part of young Otto Mobile’s “pit crew.” It describes behavioral and medication interventions and provides hope that a child’s own pit crew will help them run to the best of their ability.
Age range: 1st grade through 4th grade.
Recommended for: This book’s primary purpose is to teach a child’s peers (classmates, teammates, etc.) about Tourette Syndrome so that a child is less likely to be teased or excluded due to their tics. It could be better written, but it’s an acceptable introduction to tics and Tourette Syndrome. It teaches peers important information, including facts like Tourette Syndrome isn’t contagious, and a child isn’t ever ticing on purpose, and it reminds readers that kids with Tourette Syndrome like to play and learn just like everyone else.
Age range: 1st through 3rd grade, or perhaps even 4th grade.
Recommended for: This book is exclusively for a child who has recently been diagnosed with OCD and is starting treatment with a therapist who is trained in Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) . The book reassures children that they aren’t “crazy” or the only ones with OCD, and it teaches about ERP and the strategy of externalizing and talking back to OCD (the boy in this book calls his OCD thoughts “Mr. Worry”). It provides children with an analogy of medication being a child’s running shoes, the therapist being the coach, and the child being the runner (ERP is the “running strategy”). The book is a bit outdated but it’s still one of the best picture book introductions to ERP that I’ve been able to find.
Age range: Preschool through 3rd grade. It has a story that younger kids will understand and enjoy, but there’s enough complexity that older kids will connect with it too.
Age range: Best for older kids–3rd or 4th grade through middle school.
Recommended for: This book is great for an older child who has recently been diagnosed with a depressive disorder or who a parent or provider suspects may be holding onto heavy feelings without sharing them. It vividly puts words to the experience of depression without sugarcoating the pain, and it provides hope that sharing about this experience with a loved one and getting help will lead to a child “learning to see through the darkness.”