According to the National Institute on Mental Health, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a “common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” Mental health issues can be difficult for families to discuss, especially because they are almost never featured in books geared toward children. But recently, I came across two children’s books that addressed the issue head-on. These children’s books about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder will help families talk about this common issue.
Children’s Books About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Picture Book: Unraveling Rose by Brian Wray and Shiloh Penfield
Rose is a stuffed bunny. Life is just how Rose wants it: the books are straight, the tea cups’ handles are all turned the same way, and there is not a single wrinkle in her polka-dot dress. Everything is just right, until one day Rose notices a thread hanging from her arm. Rose is overcome with thoughts of the thread, but it just gets longer and longer when she pulls on it. She knows she should stop, but she just keeps pulling. Soon, her white stuffing is falling out. Rose realizes that her obsession with the thread is keeping her from doing the things she love most. She sews up her arm and slowly learns how to live with that one dangling thread.
UNRAVELING ROSE is both direct about the issue of obsessive behavior, and patient in its tone. The book is clear about how hard it can be for kids who suffer from OCD, but also hopeful that they can learn to live with imperfections. It will be a welcome addition for families looking for resources to start a conversation about obsessive behavior with young children. The book closes with four examples of coping mechanisms parents can offer their children who suffer from OCD.
Middle Grade: Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
REAL FRIENDS is a middle grade graphic novel about author Shannon Hale’s experience navigating tenuous friendships in elementary school. Shannon’s daily school life fluctuates between having fun with friends and being tormented by their exclusive behavior. She becomes more confused every day, often choosing to hide in the bushes at recess rather than subjecting herself to the girls’ antics. As her problems mount, Shannon notices some behaviors she can’t control. Shannon must navigate her escalating obsessions all while figuring out who are her REAL FRIENDS.
REAL FRIENDS is perfect for upper-elementary and middle school readers dealing with OCD (or friendship!) issues. It is less direct in its dealings with Shannon’s possible OCD, but her obsessive behaviors come up repeatedly as the girl copes with her growing stress. REAL FRIENDS won’t teach kids how to deal with obsessive thoughts and behaviors, but it will help them see that there are others like them.