Thanks for joining my “Mommy and Me” Book Club. I hope you’re enjoying my ongoing “stay in bed and read” series. See my previous post on Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder for a book summary and “quotable quotes”.
As you’re reading Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder by Dyane Harwood in bed (or in your favorite armchair), feel free to share these picture books with your children.
For every “mommy book” read, I’ll suggest a “me book” for your children with a similar theme. It is my hope that this “Mommy and Me” book club is a fun activity for you and your children.
Picture Books About Overcoming Mental Illnesses; Bipolar Disorder
1. The Bipolar Bear Family: When a Parent Has Bipolar Disorder (2006) | Angela Holloway
A young cub struggles to make sense of his mother’s behavior and her diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Mirroring the dynamics of alcoholism and addiction, mental illness in adults* can have a devastating impact on the family system. This book helps children of parents with bipolar answer questions like: Is it my fault? Is it catching? Can it be fixed? (Age Range: N/A)
*According to the National Institute for Mental Health, Bipolar Disorder affects more than 2 million American adults.
2. A Terrible Thing Happened (2000) | Margaret M. Holmes
A Terrible Thing Happened is meant to help children who have witnessed a traumatic event, whether it is abuse, bullying, natural disasters, hospitalizations, suicides, etc. When Sherman Smith, sees something terrible, he gets nervous – his stomach is upset and he has bad dreams. Eventually, Sherman starts to feel angry and do mean things, which gets him into trouble. This book gives the adult reader ways to help traumatized children like Sherman overcome the terrible thing that happened to them. (Age Range: 4-7 years)
3. Binky Bunny Wants to Know about Bipolar (2017) | Kathleen Boros
Mama Bunny explains to Binky Bunny that she is strong, even though she has bipolar disorder. Boros’ book calls attention to the toll it can take on a family when questions are left answered. This book teaches the whole family not to let bipolar get in the way of life’s beautiful everyday gifts and to appreciate one another for who we are. (Age Range: N/A)
4. Knock, Knock … Who’s There, Bear? A Story about Embracing Bipolar Disorder (2019) | Gracelyn Keys
The story centers around Bear who has bipolar disorder. It celebrates friendship and just being special for who you are. This book helps children understand different bipolar disorder symptoms and what to do about them, which would also be helpful for children with parents who are on the bipolar spectrum. (Age Range: N/A)
5. Can I Catch It Like a Cold? Coping With a Parent’s Depression (2009) | Written by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Illustrated By Joe Weissmann
Alex’s dad doesn’t work anymore and only want to sleep all the time. When Alex finds out why (his dad’s depressed), he confides in his friend Anna whose mom also has depression. This book promotes therapy for the entire family. (Age Range: 5-8 years)
6. Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry (2005) | Bebe Moore Campbell
Some mornings, Annie’s mother’s smiles are as bright as sunshine as she prepares pancakes for breakfast and readies Annie for school, but other mornings Annie’s mother doesn’t smile at all and is quick to anger. This book is a reminder, through the voice of Annie’s grandma, that even when Mommy gets angry on the outside, on the inside she never stops loving you. (Age Range: 5-8 years)
7. My Happy Sad Mummy (2015) | Michelle Vasilu
“Sometimes Mummy has happy days, where she talks and laughs all day long. Sometimes Mummy is sad. She cries all day and stays in bed. Sometimes she’s so sad she has to go to the hospital.”
Processing the highs and lows of a parent with bipolar mood disorder can be a dizzying task for children. My Happy Sad Mummy assists young readers in understanding and becoming more aware of the disorder. This book offers comfort to children who have a parent with bipolar disorder. (Age Range: N/A)
8. Why is Mommy Sad? A Child’s Guide to Parental Depression (2006) | MD Paul D. Chan and Laurie A. Faust
Young children learn what depression is and are given examples of what depression may look like – feeling tired, yelling, wanting to be alone, etc. It’s a good starting point for looking at why Mommy is sad. This book is meant to be a read along for children and parents with depression. (Age Range: N/A)
9. The Princess and the Fog: A Story for Children with Depression (2015) | Lloyd Jones
Once upon a time there lived a Princess. She had everything a little girl could ever want. That is, until the fog came…
The Princess and the Fog describes the symptoms of childhood depression**, while also providing reassurance that things will get better. Its colorful illustrations, playful sense of humor, and apt metaphorical language will help sufferers of depression cope with their difficult feelings. Even though this book’s primary audience is children with depression and not children who have a parent with a mood disorder, this book is effective in explaining depression to children, especially those who may have a parent or close family member with depression. (Age Range: 5-7 years)
**The essential guide for parents and caregivers by clinical pediatric psychologists, Dr. Melinda Edwards MBE and Linda Bayliss, is invaluable.
10. How Frederick Found His Light (2015) | Katherine McIntyre
Frederick was born with a bright light inside him, the light of happiness, love, and uniqueness. As he gets older though, it dims as Frederick doubts himself and experiences sadness, anger, and loneliness. Much like The Princess and the Fog, this story provides little ones with a unique insight into understanding their depression or that of a family member or close friend. Through the support of his counselor Mrs. Lily and his parents, Frederick sees the light is within him all along. (Age Range: N/A)
- Wishing Wellness: A Workbook for Children of Parents With Mental Illness (2006) | Lisa A. Clarke
- Please Explain Anxiety to Me! Simple Biology and Solutions for Children and Parents (2010) | Laurie Zelinger
A Final Thought – From the Pillow
Look to the story of How Frederick Found His Light, for example.
So even at your lowest point, if you look hard enough, you will find the light of your true joyful self within you.
If you’re having trouble finding the light, bibliotherapy is a helpful addition to any treatment plan!
What other picture books would you add the list?