Reading for the Future: Mental Health Awareness

RICHLAND, Wash. — In honor of promoting education for Mental Illness Awareness Week, Reading for the Future, in partnership with the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia (CRFMC), is focused on helping children develop confidence and a positive body image to lead happy and healthy lives. 

In this day and age, children face many challenges with their mental health; from isolation during the pandemic to what some research calls “toxic” social media, children are struggling. According to the CDC, ADHD, behavior problems, anxiety, and depression are children’s most commonly diagnosed mental disorders.

The importance of early intervention and addressing mental health at a young age is vital. The CDC states, “1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2–8 years had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.”

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According to the CDC, as children get older, “that diagnoses of depression and anxiety are more common with increased age,” as you can see from the graph below. 

Elizabeth Barnes, executive director of the CRFMC, said that positive children’s books are a great way to help children learn who they are and explore their emotions and develop positive coping skills. 

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“Try to choose a book for your child that has a positive self-image, where the child is talking positively about themselves, where they are representing something that goes beyond the classic social norms. Choose a book about a girl who is creative and smart and a scientist. Who thinks outside the box. Choose a book about a boy who is sweet and sensitive, and creative. Help your child to explore different avenues for themselves, so they can truly identify who they are.” -Elizabeth Barnes, Executive Director, Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia

A special thank you to Adventures Underground, a local new and used books and hobby shop in Richland. Check out their website and Facebook to learn more about their incredible store:

Recommended Reading for Children:

I Am EnoughI am Enough

By Grace Byers

Description: “An ode to self-confidence and kindness from actor and activist Grace Byers, this picture book depicts girls of diverse body shapes and skin tones.”


Who You Were Meant To Be

Who You Were Made To Be

By Joanna Gaines

Description: “The book follows a group of children as they each build their very own hot-air balloons. As the kids work together, leaning into their own skills and processes, to fill the sky with beautiful colors, we discover that the same is true for life–it’s more beautiful and vibrant when our differences are celebrated.”



Incredible YouIncredible You

By Rhys Brisenden

Description: “Ever had a bad day and wished that you were someone else? Perhaps a mountain gorilla? Or a fierce tiger? But wait . . . just think of all the amazing things that you can do! You can sing, you can write, and you can dream. And never stop being incredible you!”

Just Ask

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

By: Sonia Sotomayor

Description: “In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges–and looks at the special powers those kids have as well.”



229954959 4052677354781198 1018678962045090731 NUPCOMING:

Friday, October 8, 2021, Miss Washington 2021, Maddie Louder, will share a body-positive children’s book, reading from the Richland Public Library. Check back into for updates!



For additional resources for parents, visit the National Institute of Mental Health. And if you or someone you know might be at risk, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (24/7).