The best children's books to discuss loneliness and depression

Geneviève Godbout Author Of What's Up, Maloo?
By Geneviève Godbout

Who am I?

I am a freelance illustrator who specializes in children’s literature. I now live in Montreal, surrounded by my little family, after many years spent in London as a Winnie the Pooh character artist for the Walt Disney Company. What's Up, Maloo? is my first book as an author and was inspired by my own experience of suffering with anxiety and depression. I wanted to create Maloo as a tool for children and adults to discuss the importance of being well surrounded and to reach out to a friend when we are feeling low.


I wrote...

What's Up, Maloo?

By Geneviève Godbout,

Book cover of What's Up, Maloo?

What is my book about?

Maloo the kangaroo has lost his "hop". The book explores the idea of sadness and the importance of friendship through ups and downs. No other kangaroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo's friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What's wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. And with patience, support, and a little "hop" from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back.

Simple text and illustrations convey the power of friendship over a gloomy mood.

The books I picked & why

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Hug Me

By Simona Ciraolo,

Book cover of Hug Me

Why this book?

Hug Me depicts the story of Felipe, a young cactus, who just wants to be hugged. The problem is that his family just isn't the touchy-feely kind. It leads Felipe to go on his own path to find a friend. But hugging a cactus can be a tricky thing... This simple yet touching story will make you see the prickliest person as someone who also needs to be loved and hugged. I promise you, this cute little cactus will melt your heart!


Where Happiness Begins

By Eva Eland,

Book cover of Where Happiness Begins

Why this book?

Where Happiness Begins is a clever picture book that depicts happiness as a character that can take any shape and form. Sometimes it is hard to find. And sometimes it is right there with us. The illustrations are bright and beautiful. To me, we should read it frequently as a gentle reminder that happiness always begins within ourselves.


The Bear and the Moon

By Matthew Burgess, Catia Chien (illustrator),

Book cover of The Bear and the Moon

Why this book?

The Bear and the Moon is a very profound and poetic book that explores feelings of loss and guilt. The text stays vague enough to open discussions with children on what it feels like to lose a friend. And though it may seem like a dark subject, the illustrations make it luminous and soothing to read. You will love this little bear!


The Shadow Elephant

By Nadine Robert, Valerio Vidali (illustrator),

Book cover of The Shadow Elephant

Why this book?

In addition to being an absolute beauty, this book tackles the subject of empathy and self-acceptance with delicacy. It tells the story of an elephant who feels down and can't be cheered up by his colorful savannah friends. It reminds us that sometimes, it’s okay to be sad without having to get better right away. Friends can show their support by simply being there, without judgment or action.


Who Will Comfort Toffle?: A Tale of Moomin Valley

By Tove Jansson, Sophie Hannah (translator),

Book cover of Who Will Comfort Toffle?: A Tale of Moomin Valley

Why this book?

This book is a timeless classic that everyone should have. It follows Toffle, a little wallflower who's fearful of the world and too shy to speak to anyone. He goes through his journey, sad and alone, as he watches the joyful lives of others from afar. Until the day he finds a letter... Who Will Comfort Toffle? reminds the reader that isolation is never the solution and that even the most unfit of us can find a special someone.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in depression, bears, and friendships?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about depression, bears, and friendships.

Depression Explore 53 books about depression
Bears Explore 42 books about bears
Friendships Explore 322 books about friendships

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Michael Rosen's Sad Book, A Visitor for Bear, and Maybe Tomorrow? (A Story about Loss, Healing, and Friendship) if you like this list.