Shame is a powerful feeling and one that children start to experience when they’re as young as two years old. It’s often a significant component of depression. The books in this section encourage children to open up about their feelings of shame and propose different strategies for coping with it.
Age range: 2nd through 5th, or even 6th grade.
Recommended for: This book is best for a more mature, verbal child who has some insight into their thoughts and feelings. It takes seriously the intensity of children’s feelings of shame and helps kids to recognize and name the feeling, as well as to share about what is causing them to feel shame. This book is appropriate for a child who has experienced trauma or abuse and is subsequently feeling shame, as well as a child who struggles more generally with feelings of inadequacy or negative self-talk. (It makes a nod to shame sometimes being the result of “something we did or didn’t do,” as well as “something done to us.”)

Shame Mud

Written by Jamie Jensen
Illustrated by Dustin Baird
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: Children who are burdened by self-criticism after they make mistakes will likely benefit from this story’s description of shame and the reminder that mistakes don’t define their self-worth. It provides a lovely model of a mother joining her child in his emotional pain and then helping him to gently challenge his shaming self-talk.
Age range: 1st grade through 4th grade.
Recommended for: Great to read with a child who has a lot of negative self-talk who will benefit from learning to challenge these thoughts. This book pulls for kids to draw their own versions of the Awfulizer and to start thinking about what lies their Awfulizer is telling them about themselves.