March 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Bibliotherapy for Teens: An Expanded Booklist

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

MentalHealth_readchoice_flat_montageOur November feature article and booklist “Bibliotherapy for Teens” by Erin E. Moulton received an outpouring of positive feedback from educators, authors, and librarians all over the globe. Here’s what some of them said:

“Thank you so much for this! It would have been great to just read the article as a reminder that fiction can and should be suggested for growth, succor, and learning, but to then give us your book list is invaluable! As teen librarians, we reinvent the wheel too frequently, and sharing things like this list is so helpful—I can check to see which of these books I have, perhaps order some I don’t that sound valuable, add my own library’s details about location, and have a book list I didn’t have to painstakingly research and create myself! Kudos to you, and to SLJ for publishing this, too!”

“Erin, this is a fabulous post and resource! Thank you! There is no question in my mind that reading about characters suffering from mental health issues reassures those who share it, and informs those who don’t. I am a school librarian in South Africa and just want to say well done—this excellent post [sic]. Thank you for the book recommendations, some I already know, but many more I know I will be glad one day that I found today.”

Thank you, readers, for your abundance of thoughtful questions, lively discussion points, and insightful remarks. Many of you suggested additional titles for the Realistic Teen Fiction and Mental Health Booklist. Presented below is an expanded, updated list with readers’ contributions highlighted in bold.

Anxiety disorder

Caletti, Deb. The Nature of Jade (S. & S., 2007)

Baskin, Nora Raleigh. Anything but Typical (S. & S., 2009)

Colasanti, Susane. Waiting for You (Viking, 2009)

Herbach, Geoff. Stupid Fast (Sourcebooks Fire, 2011)

*Roskos, Evan. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets (Houghton Harcourt, 2013)

Schutz, Samantha. I Don’t Want to Be Crazy (Scholastic, 2006)

*also depression

Autism spectrum disorders

Brenna, Beverly. Wild Orchid (Red Deer, 2005)

Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Shirts (Putnam, 2004)

Erskine, Kathryn. Mockingbird (Philomel, 2010)

Franklin, Emily, and Halpin, Brendan. The Half-Life of Planets (Hyperion, 2010)

Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Doubleday, 2003)

Houtman, Jacqueline. The Reinvention of Edison Thomas (Boyds Mills, 2012)

Jacobs, Evan. Screaming Quietly (Saddleback, 2013)

Kelly, Tara. Harmonic Feedback. (Holt, 2010)

Miller-Lachmann, Lyn. Rogue (Penguin, 2013)

Miller, Ashley Edward. Colin Fischer (Penguin, 2012)

Roy, Jennifer. Mindblind (Marshall Cavendish, 2010)

Sloan, Holly Goldberg. Counting By 7s (Dial, 2013)

Stork, Francisco X. Marcelo in the Real World (Scholastic, 2009)

Attention deficit disorder (ADD)/Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Costa, T.L. Playing Tyler (Strange Chemistry, 2013)

Page, Katherine Hall. Club Meds (Simon Pulse, 2006)

Rue, Nancy. Motorcycles, Sushi and One Strange Book (Zonderkidz, 2010)

Bipolar disorder

Hopkins, Ellen. Impulse (S. & S., 2007)

Niven, Jennifer. All the Bright Places (Knopf, 2015)

Reed, Amy. Crazy (S. & S., 2012)

Polsky, Sara. This Is How I Find Her (Albert Whitman, 2013)

Sones, Sonya. Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy (HarperCollins, 1999)

Smith, Hilary T. Wild Awake (HarperCollins, 2013)

Wilson, Jacqueline. The Illustrated Mum (Delacorte, 2005)

Wunder, Wendy. Museum of Intangible Things (Penguin, 2014)

Borderline Personality Disorder

Jones, Patrick. Controlled (Darby Creek, 2014)

SLJ1411w FT MetalHealth SB2 Bibliotherapy for Teens: Helpful Tips and Recommended Fiction


Asher, Jay. Thirteen Reasons Why (Penguin, 2007)

Cardi, Annie. The Chance You Won’t Return (Candlewick, 2014)

Draper, Sharon M. “Hazlewood High Trilogy” (S. & S.)

Ford, Michael Thomas. Suicide Notes (HarperCollins, 2008)

Green, John, and Levithan, David. Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Dutton, 2010)

Halpern, Julie. Get Well Soon (Feiwel and Friends, 2007)

Hubbard, Jennifer R. Try Not to Breathe (Viking, 2012)

Jenkins, A.M. Damage (HarperCollins, 2001)

Jones, Traci L. Silhouetted by the Blue (Farrar, 2011)

LaCour, Nina. Hold Still (Dutton, 2009)

McNamara, Amy. Lovely, Dark and Deep (S. & S., 2012)

Peters, Julie Ann. By The Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead (Hyperion, 2011)

*Quick, Matthew. Sorta Like a Rock Star (Little, Brown, 2010)

Sales, Leila. This Song Will Save Your Life (Farrar, 2013)

Schmatz, Pat. Bluefish (Candlewick, 2013)

Schumacher, Julie. Black Box (Delacorte, 2008)

Vizzini, Ned. It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Hyperion, 2007)

Warga, Jasmine. My Heart and Other Black Holes (HarperCollins, 2015)

Wolitzer, Meg. Belzhar (Dutton, 2014)

Zhang, Amy. Falling Into Place (HarperCollins, 2014)

*also PTSD and autism

Dissociative disorder

Cusick, John M. Girl Parts (Candlewick, 2010)

*Hopkins, Ellen. Identical (S. & S., 2008)

Leno, Katrina. The Half Life of Molly Pierce (HarperCollins, 2014)

*also eating disorders

Dual diagnosis: mental illness and substance abuse

Sáenz, Benjamin Alire. Last Night I Sang to the Monster (Cinco Puntos, 2009)

*PTSD and alcoholism

Eating disorders

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Wintergirls (Viking, 2009)

Anonymous. Letting Ana Go (Simon Pulse, 2013)

Bell, Julia. Massive (Young Picador, 2003)

Colbert, Brandy. Pointe (Putnam, 2014)

Cooner, Dora. Skinny (Scholastic, 2012)

Fehlbaum, Beth. My Big Fat Disaster (Merit, 2014)

Friedman, Robin. Nothing (Flux, 2008)

Friend, Natasha. Perfect (Scholastic, 2006)

Hopkins, Ellen. Perfect (S. & S., 2011)

Jaden, Denise. Never Enough (S. & S., 2012)

Kaslik, Ibi. Skinny (Walker, 2006)

Littman, Sarah Darer. Purge (Scholastic, 2009)

Metzger, Lois. A Trick of the Light (HarperCollins, 2013)

Reed, Amy. Clean (S. & S., 2011)

Shahan, Sherry. Skin and Bones (Albert Whitman, 2014)

Vrettos, Adrienne Maria. Skin (S. & S., 2006)

SLJ1411w FT MetalHealth SB3 Bibliotherapy for Teens: Helpful Tips and Recommended Fiction

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Ayarbe, Heidi. Compulsion (HarperCollins, 2011)

Chappell, Crissa-Jean. Total Constant Order (HarperCollins, 2007)

Ellison, Kate. The Butterfly Clues (Egmont USA, 2012)

Harrar, George. Not as Crazy as I Seem (Houghton Mifflin, 2003)

Haydu, Corey Ann. OCD Love Story (S. & S., 2013)

Hopkins, Ellen. Fallout (S. & S., 2010)

Joyce, Rachel. Perfect (Random, 2014)

Karo, Aaron. Lexapros and Cons (Farrar, 2012)

McGovern, Cammie. Say What You Will (HarperCollins, 2014)

Vaughn, Lauren Roedy. OCD, the Dude, and Me (Dial, 2013)

Wilson, Rachel. Don’t Touch (HarperCollins, 2014)

Young, Janet Ruth. The Babysitter Murders (S. & S., 2011)

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

War and Death

Anderson, Laurie Halse. The Impossible Knife of Memory (Viking, 2014)

Avashti, Swati. Chasing Shadows (Knopf, 2013)

Doller, Trish. Something Like Normal (Bloomsbury, 2012)

Herbach, Geoff. “Reinstein Trilogy” (Sourcebooks Fire)

Morgenroth, Kate. Echo (S. & S., 2007)

Parlato, Steven. The Namesake (Merit, 2013)

Quick, Matthew. Boy21 (Little, Brown, 2012)

Reinhardt, Dana. The Things a Brother Knows (Random, 2010)

Skilton, Sarah. Bruised (Abrams, 2013)


Dunbar, Helen. These Gentle Wounds (Flux, 2014)

Fehlbaum, Beth. Courage in Patience (Kunati, 2008)

Fehlbaum, Beth. Hope in Patience (WestSide, 2010)

*King, A.S. Reality Boy (Little, Brown, 2013)

Knowles, Jo. Lessons from a Dead Girl (Candlewick, 2009)

Kuehn, Stephanie. Charm & Strange (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013)

**Kuehn, Stephanie. Complicit (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014)

*Mesrobian, Carrie. Sex and Violence (Carolrhoda, 2013)

**Quick, Matthew. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock (Little, Brown, 2013)

Perry, Jolene. Stronger Than You Know (Albert Whitman, 2014)

***Rainfield, Cheryl. Scars (WestSide, 2010)

Rainfield, Cheryl. Stained (Houghton Harcourt, 2013)

*also anxiety

**also depression

***includes self-harm/injury


Averett, Edward. Cameron and the Girls (Clarion, 2013)

Bock, Caroline. Before My Eyes (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014)

*de la Peña, Matt. I Will Save You (Delacorte, 2010)

James, Brian. Life Is But a Dream (Feiwel and Friends, 2012)

Schindler, Holly. A Blue So Dark (Flux, 2010)

Sheff, Nic. Schizo (Philomel, 2014)

Suma, Nova Ren. 17 & Gone (Dutton, 2013)

Trueman, Terry. Inside Out (HarperCollins, 2003)

*also PTSD

Tourette syndrome

Ayarbe, Heidi. Compromised (HarperCollins, 2010)

Conaghan, Brian. When Mr. Dog Bites (Bloomsbury, 2014)

Friesen, Jonathan. Jerk, California (Speak, 2008)

Reynolds, Jason. When I Was the Greatest (S. & S., 2014)

Note: I was unable to identify realistic teen fiction titles for borderline personality disorder, panic disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and schizoaffective disorder. Feel free to suggest titles in the comments section.

Empowering Teens: Fostering the Next Generation of Advocates
Teens want to make a difference and become advocates for the things they care about. Librarians working with young people are in a unique position to help them make an impact on their communities and schools. Ignite your thinking and fuel these efforts at your library through this Library Journal online course—April 24 & May 8.


  1. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh for depression

  2. Many thanks! I’m honored to have my novel, THE NAMESAKE (Merit Press, 2013) included on this enhanced list with these other powerful and important works. It’s humbling to think teens and others in need of a therapeutic reading experience will have expanded access to my work thanks to SLJ.
    All best, Steven Parlato

  3. Thank you so much for this!

  4. Jeanne Staley says:

    Thank you for this article, the bibliography, and the updates. When I received this information at the Washington Library Media Conference last fall, I thought this would be a good project to give me an opportunity to work with my counselors. Each spring the Bethel School District offers $300 LeMay grants for teachers. We are in the process of applying for a grant to add titles for bibliotherapy to the Frontier Middle School Library. Our focus is depression, anxiety, loss, and deployment. If anyone has any additional titles that are at a middle school level that deal with these topics, it would be helpful.
    One title I would add to the original list would be Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor. This title could be categorized under anxiety, dysfunctional families. Thank you for the inspiration and information. Keeping our fingers crossed that we receive the grant.