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Children's Mental Health Books Donated to Local Libraries

The Washington County Coalition of Children (WCCC) recently donated children’s books to all 14 Washington County libraries.
“We know that as many as 1 in 5 American children struggle with a mental health challenge,” explains WCCC Coordinator Susan Orban. “And they are developing these problems at younger and younger ages. Children often feel alone and helpless in their struggles. Yet, there is nothing like the power of reading and storytelling to teach us that others have struggled too and dealt with similar challenges,” added Orban.
“Reading age-appropriate books with mental health themes allows children and youth to find comfort and wisdom in characters with whom they strongly relate,” continues Orban. “They find it easier to express what they’re feeling because ‘such and such character has trouble with being scared too’”.
Orban says reading books can help children and youth:
• Identify and validate feelings they might be having
• Realize that other children have similar problems
• Start a conversation about how they feel with adults
• Suggest possible coping skills and solutions
• Foster empathy for friends, siblings, and classmates who may be struggling.

Expert volunteers choose 22 books
This is the fourth time the Coalition has taken on a literature project like this and made library book donations. Other projects dealt with bullying at all ages; these books will help children ages 5-12 consider their own mental well-being. As with the other projects, the Coalition gathered experts ¬– from librarians to child development specialists to mental health providers to parents ¬– to identify a range of print books that met the above criteria.
The group ultimately selected 22 books to cover topics like depression, anxiety, autism, and mindfulness, Orban notes. “Each library didn’t get all 22 books; a library might have some of them already, for example. But each received some books to build out their collections.” Families can request all titles through the libraries interlibrary loan CLAN system. Many of the titles also are available on youtube.
The donated books are or will go into circulation according to each library’s COVID regulations.

The 22 recommended titles addressing mental health issues
A Friend Like Simon by Kate Gaynot (ages 3-6)
A Feel Better Book for Little Worriers by Holly Brochmann and Leah Bowen (ages 3-6)
I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism by Pat Thomas (ages 3-6)
Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival (ages 3-6)
I Wish Daddy Didn't Drink So Much by Judith Vigna (ages 3-8)
Shelley, The Hyperactive Turtle by Deborah Moss (ages 4-7)
Hector’s Favorite Place by Jo Rooks (ages 4-8)
I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds (ages 4-8)
Mr. Worry: A Story about OCD by Holly L. Niner (ages 4-8)
Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing by Christopher Willard (ages 4-8)
The Goodnight Caterpillar: The Ultimate Bedtime Story by Lori Lite (ages 4-9)
The Princess and the Fog: A Story for Children with Depression by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ages 5-7)
This Morning Sam Went to Mars by Nancy Carlson (ages 5-9)
A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes (ages 5-9)
A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold (ages 6-10)
What Happens When A Loved One Dies by Dr. Jillian Roberts (ages 6-8)
Up and Down the Worry Hill by Aureen Pinto Wagner (ages 7-10)
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook (ages 7-11)
The Dragon Who Lives at our House by Elaine Mitchell (ages 8+)
What to do When You're Sad and Lonely by James Crist PhD (ages 8-11)
The Survival Guide for Kids with ADHD by John F. Taylor, PhD (ages 8-12)
Guts by Raina Telgemeir (ages 10+)
Download a copy of the list here.

Orban thanked AmeriCorps service member Allison Landis for managing the project. She also credited The Friendship Fund for generously supporting this and each of the previous library book donations.

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