Middle Grade Books on Mental Illness and Neurodiversity

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and to celebrate, here is a list of books that contain characters living with neurodiversity and/or mental illnesses. For more information on mental health or to learn how to become an advocate for yourself or others please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness at  www.nami.org

Middle schooler Natalie's year-long assignment to answer a question using the scientific process leads to truths about her mother's depression and her own cultural identity.

Finding perfect by Elly D Swartz

"With some help from her siblings and friends, Molly is able to face her OCD and be strong enough to get help for it"--.

Every shiny thing by Cordelia Jensen

When Lauren begins stealing to raise money for autistic kids, like her brother, who don't have her family's resources, she convinces Sierra, a foster child, to help with the Robin Hood scheme, in a story told half in prose and half in verse.

Some kind of happiness by Claire Legrand

Finley Hart is sent to her grandparents' house for the summer, but her anxiety and overwhelmingly sad days continue until she escapes into her writings which soon turn mysteriously real and she realizes she must save this magical world in order to save herself.

The nest by Kenneth Oppel

"When wasps come to Steve in a dream offering to fix his sick baby brother, he thinks all he has to do is say yes. But yes may not mean what Steve thinks it means"--.

Afraid that she is crazy, thirteen-year-old Mia, who sees a special color with every letter, number, and sound, keeps this a secret until she becomes overwhelmed by school, changing relationships, and the loss of something important to her.

Small as an elephant by Jennifer Jacobson

Abandoned by his mother in an Acadia National Park campground, Jack tries to make his way back to Boston before anyone figures out what is going on, with only a small toy elephant for company.

How to speak dolphin by Ginny Rorby

Since her mother died, twelve-year-old Lily has struggled to care for her severely autistic half-brother, Adam, in their Miami home, but she is frustrated and angry because her oncologist step-father, Don, expects her to devote her time to Adam, and is unwilling to admit that Adam needs professional help--but when Adam bonds with a young dolphin with cancer Lily is confronted with another dilemma: her family or the dolphin's freedom.

At the family cabin by the lake where his grandfather died two years ago, eleven-year-old Cooper Cameron spends the summer trying to rid himself of the rituals that allow him to cope with his grief and fear.

The goldfish boy by Lisa Thompson

Emotionally crippled by his obsessive-compulsive disorder, teenager Matthew Corbin rarely leaves his room on a cul-de-sac in London, and he passes the day observing and writing down his neighbors' doings from his window--but when a toddler staying next door disappears Matt is the key to solving a mystery and possibly saving a child's life...if he can manage to expose himself, and his secret guilt to the outside world.

New friends and a mystery help Aven, thirteen, adjust to middle school and life at a dying western theme park in a new state, where her being born armless presents many challenges.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Hazel and Jack are best friends until an accident with a magical mirror and a run-in with a villainous queen find Hazel on her own, entering an enchanted wood in the hopes of saving Jack's life.

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

"Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you're in the eighth-grade. Norbert Dorfman, nicknamed Dunkin Dorfman, is bipolar and has just moved from the New Jersey town he's called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change"--.

The real boy by Anne Ursu

"A shy boy named Oscar who works as the hand to a powerful magic worker becomes the only person who can save his village from an evil monster"--.

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