Healthy Minds and Bodies | Health Series Nonfiction

As the world continues into its second year of pandemic pandemonium, readers are reminded that balancing physical and mental wellness is critical to a healthy life.


As the world continues into its second year of pandemic pandemonium, readers are reminded that balancing physical and mental wellness is critical to a healthy life. This year brings books to help better explain public health crises across time for tweens, and body books going beyond head, shoulders, knees, and toes for younger audiences. While there has been growth in the medical and anatomical titles, fun and decompression have also taken their spots in the light here as well. Across all of these series is the continued trend toward more representative depictions using real photographs that both lean into visual literacy and add literal human connections to the topics.



Brinker, Spencer. Color Craziness!: Optical Illusions. ISBN 9781636914978.
––––. Faces and Vases!: Optical Illusions. ISBN 9781636914992.
––––. Motion Commotion!: Optical Illusions. ISBN 9781636915005.
––––. That’s Impossible!: Optical Illusions. ISBN 9781636914985.
ea vol: 24p. (Eye-mazing Illusions). Bearport/Create!. Jan. 2022. Tr $26.99.
Gr 3-5 –The exciting optical illusions throughout this series explore not only the science of optics, but also interconnected STEAM topics like neurology. Covering both two-dimensional and three-dimensional illusions, there are mathematical, health, and artist explanations behind each illusion’s trick. The texts are rich with information and chock-full of examples on each page, but the hidden gems are in the back. There, each title has an activity that allows readers to create their own illusions based on helpful, structured instructions and what they have learned. VERDICT Teachers who want to mix STEAM ideas into their art, math, and physics classes can look to this series to boost the fun in their classrooms.

Finne, Stephanie. Mindful Cooking. ISBN 9781636903583.
––––. Mindful Crafting. ISBN 9781636903613.
––––. Mindful Music and Dancing. ISBN 9781636903644.
––––. Mindful Writing. ISBN 9781636903675.
ea vol: 24p. (The Art of Mindfulness). Jump!/Blue Owl. Jan. 2022. Tr $26.99.
Gr 2-3 –Moving beyond deep breaths and yoga mats, these titles incorporate mindfulness practices into common middle grade activities like dancing and crafting. It is a clever expansion that builds on a secular understanding of mindfulness and its uses in daily activities to boost mental health. Readers are encouraged to explore the way they think about daily activities in a deeper way, using specific applications tied to the titular activities. A range of real photographs of children in these books model the ideas present throughout. VERDICT These titles make a good addition to public libraries looking to expand their current mindfulness collections to include concrete applications for exploring readers.

Gaertner, Meg. Anxiety. ISBN 9781646194810.
––––. Bullying. ISBN 9781646194827.
––––. Disappointment. ISBN 9781646194834.
––––. Family Changes. ISBN 9781646194841.
––––. Grief and Loss. ISBN 9781646194858.
––––. Loneliness. ISBN 9781646194865.
––––. Moving. ISBN 9781646194872.
––––. Struggling at School. ISBN 9781646194889.
ea vol: 24p. (Dealing with Challenges). North Star Editions/Little Blue Readers. Jan. 2022. Tr $27.07.
PreS-Gr 2 –Highlighting specific practices and activities, this series will help children learn ways to approach age appropriate challenges like managing time throughout their day, keeping up healthy friendships, and dealing with bullies. The vivid photographs of engaged children are exciting for younger readers, and the contextual use of topical vocabulary will appeal to their caregivers. The depiction of children featured here is both diverse and inclusive, with various ages, races, and abilities partaking in the discussed activity of each title from sports to brushing one’s teeth. VERDICT These are the perfect additions to ­elementary school collections looking to grow their mental and physical health sections for emerging readers.

Hughes, Sloane. Count on Me: How to Build Trust. ISBN 9781636914251.
––––. Don’t Sweat It: How to Navigate Big Emotions. ISBN 9781636914268.
––––. Think it Out: How to Plan Ahead. ISBN 9781636914282.
ROSE, Rachel. Let’s Pull Together: How to Work in Teams. ISBN 9781636914275.
ea vol: 24p. (Life Works!). Bearport/Fusion. Jan. 2022. Tr $26.99.
PreS-Gr 2 –Using stylized monster characters, these books guide readers through activities to help build empathy and understanding, while developing critical skills like time management and building trust with others. Bright colors and silly monsters keep the serious topics layered with some levity to ease the tension, while maintaining the focus on building emotional intelligence without overwhelming young audiences. The simple sentences and built-in activities make this an excellent choice for home and school libraries aiming to incorporate deeper discussions on social interactions with children. VERDICT These are fun read-alikes for fans of the “Basher Science” books who are looking for mental and social health topics at a slightly younger level.

Hughes, Sloane. My Brain. ISBN 9781636914411.
––––. My Stomach. ISBN 9781636914459.
Rose, Rachel. My Bones. ISBN 9781636914404.
––––. My Muscles. ISBN 9781636914442.
Wendt, Jennifer. My Heart. ISBN 9781636914428.
––––. My Lungs. ISBN 9781636914435.
ea vol: 24p. (What’s Inside Me?). Bearport/Fusion. Jan. 2022. Tr $26.99.
Gr 1-3 –A neat trend in children’s body books is to blend cartoon and real medical imagery together, and this series does that very well. Pairing photographs, scientific imaging, and stylized cartoons really helps explain how each part of the body works doing different activities. The informational text is brief, but the pictures are the stars of these books. There is a nice focus on visual literacy to show rather than tell the connections between the systems in the bodies. VERDICT This is a great resource for visual learners, and especially helpful for librarians looking to expand visual literacy in their STEM collections.

MacReady, R. J. Eating Healthy Foods. ISBN 9781502659644.
––––. Getting Enough Sleep. ISBN 9781502659606.
––––. Going to the Dentist. ISBN 9781502659729.
––––. Going to the Doctor. ISBN 9781502659682.
––––. Staying Safe Outside and Online. ISBN 9781502659767.
Susienka, Kristen. Staying Active and Exercising. ISBN 9781502659569.
ea vol: 24p. (Healthy Choices). Rosen/Cavendish Square. Jan. 2022. Tr $16.95.
K-Gr 2 –Vibrant color photos of families fill this reader series that looks at healthy activities and behaviors. Explanations of ideas, like refined versus whole grain, tie into a wider dialogue caregivers can share with children about processed foods. In addition to traditional ideas of health, such as eating and exercise, the author aims to demystify doctors’ and dentists’ offices using simple explanations and real photos from inside each. Included in each title is a miniature vocabulary list of words to help review the topics after reading the book. VERDICT The focus on vocabulary and real world scenarios that impact daily life make this a great choice for early elementary classrooms.

Schuh, Mari. Dax’s Dependable Digestive System. ISBN 9781636906386.
––––. Iker’s Incredible Immune System. ISBN 9781636906416.
––––. Mia’s Mighty Muscular System. ISBN 9781636906447.
––––. Noah’s Nifty Nervous System. ISBN 9781636906478.
––––. Riley’s Remarkable Respiratory System. ISBN 9781636906508.
––––. Sasha’s Strong Skeletal System. ISBN 9781636906539.
––––. Sophie’s Super Circulatory System. ISBN 9781636906560.
ea vol: illus. by Ed Myer. 24p. (Let’s Look at Body Systems!). Jump!/Grasshopper. Jan. 2022. Tr $27.99.
Gr 2-3 –Take a look under human skin and explore the fun world of anatomy and physiology with this early chapter series about how systems work in the body. The step-by-step processes take readers through each part of the body and talk about the interconnected aspect of how systems work. The explanation of the immune system in particular stands out, as it dives deep into something relevant for readers right now with easy-to-understand, illustrated explanations. VERDICT Filled with simple anatomical models and colorful illustrations throughout, this series is a must-have for elementary-aged budding biology readers.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Bates, Mary. Malaria. ISBN 9781532196607.
Bozzone, Donna M., PhD. Tuberculosis. ISBN 9781532196638.
Gagne, Tammy. Ebola. ISBN 9781532196584.
––––. Smallpox. ISBN 9781532196621.
Hand, Carol. COVID-19. ISBN 9781532196577.
––––. Polio. ISBN 9781532196614.
Heitkamp, Kristina Lyn. Influenza. ISBN 9781532196591.
LaPierre, Yvette. The Bubonic Plague. ISBN 9781532196560.
ea vol: 48p. (Deadly Diseases). Abdo/Core Library. Jan. 2022. Tr $34.21.
Gr 4-8 –This grisly collection looks at epidemics and pandemics of the past and present, explaining each in a simple, relatable way that remains true to the science without leaning into the overly morbid aspects of discussing illnesses. Archival images and photographs of sick people are used to show symptoms and discuss feelings, but they are also paired with scientific imaging to balance out the content. Educators will appreciate the way this rich series seamlessly combines personal narratives, primary sources, and scientific breakdowns of each disease so they can easily be introduced in classrooms. VERDICT While largely focusing on medical science, this series also does a good job weaving relevant social justice perspectives into the narrative timelines of each disease.

Noelle, Becky. Yoga. ISBN 9781791142544.
Wilson, Sierra. Tai Chi. ISBN 9781791142629.
ea vol: 24p. (Wellness: Mind Body Motion). AV2/Nonfiction. Sept. 2021. Tr $28.55.
Gr 4-6 –Intentional and mindful movement practices have been popular with children and teens for a while, and this series builds on that interest. There is thoughtful consideration put into the timeline of each practice’s origin that adds a bonus level of cultural competency so often missing in similar texts. The expected practice movements are uncomplicated, with straightforward instructions and photographs to guide readers. Going beyond basic movements, this series breaks down how and what equipment is used, as well as the concrete connections to wellness with each practice. VERDICT This deep dive into popular movement and wellness concepts for tweens is an incredible resource for middle school classrooms aiming to further incorporate mindfulness practices.

Looking outside the typically medically and biologically focused aspects of health, the top series this time around are “Life Works” (Bearport) and “Optical Illusions” (Bearport). In “Life Works,” young readers can work on important internal skills like empathy, trust, and self-esteem. This series helps young readers try new things and lays the foundation for good mental health. The star is Count on Me, a title that discusses the ­somewhat temporal concept of trust in an easy-to-comprehend manner for young audiences. On the other side of things, “Optical Illusions” is a refreshing break, with interdisciplinary thinking that will please educators and puzzles that are actually fun for kids. These are both breaths of fresh air in a subject area that has been fraught with ­social complexity for the last couple years due to the ongoing pandemic.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing