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Most Relevant Self-Care Books for Middle Schoolers

Just about all of us remember what a difficult time middle school was.  Very few of us would ever want to repeat it.  And things have not gotten easier or better for our children.  While some aspects of life are easier and better, so much more is complicated far beyond what we experienced.

self-care books for middle schoolers

So what are some ways to help middle schoolers navigate their incredibly difficult world? Listening to our children is a great step in the right direction.  But sometimes, it just isn’t enough.  I did some research to find out great ways to work with my own kids.  And I found some excellent self-care books for middle schoolers.  These books do an amazing job of filling in the gaps in communication and helping middle schoolers navigate the world around them.

And right now, with so much uncertainty in the world, wouldn’t it be nice to have some support for us and our kids on the homefront?

So let’s take a look at the books that worked the best for our family and why they were effective.

The Anxiety, Depression & Anger Toolbox for Teens: 150 Powerful Mindfulness, CBT & Positive Psychology Activities to Manage Emotions

This book speaks directly to working with teens, making it one of the best picks for self-care books for middle schoolers.  I found it to be especially helpful with my tween kids.

This book was written by Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, a psychologist in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, area.  He worked with thousands of teenagers having difficulty and successfully restored their relationships with family and friends.

He specifically focuses with kids in issues regarding family dynamics, school and social issues, fear and anxiety, and body image.  Every single one of these issues plays a pertinent role in the middle school ages as well as teens.  Because of this fact, this book works incredibly well as a self-care book for middle schoolers.

He uses techniques such as mindfulness, positive therapy models, and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).  The best part of this book is that it is recommended for families to use by psychologists, counselors, and teachers, who have all seen incredibly things come out of their use of it.

Why This is my #1 Pick of the Best Books Directed at Teens

This book was written specifically for teens, but the very first thing it says is that while it is in the voice of teens, it is also very much for therapists, teachers, and parents.  It’s three main concentrations are on anxiety, depression, and anger.  These are all major players in just about every middle schooler’s life in this day.

More specifically, this books helps to work through the following issues:

  • Confidence and self-esteem
  • Overwhelming assignment
  • Schedule demands
  • Friend drama and pressure
  • Body-image struggles
  • Test anxiety
  • Self-sabotaging behaviors
  • Family frustration and conflicts

About the Author

This book was written by Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, a psychologist in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, area.  He worked with thousands of teenagers having difficulty and successfully restored their relationships with family and friends.

Dr. Bernstein was featured on the Today Show, Court TV, and several local Philadelphia tv stations.  He has also been featured in numerous magazines nationwide such as Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Ladies’ Home Journal, and The Chicago Tribune.

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

This book is amazing because it was written out of personal experience.   Because of this fact, I will talk about the author first, then we will go through the book.

About the Author

Jordan Sonnenblick was an 8th grade English teacher and known for relating well to the students.  While he was teaching, one of his students, he had a particular student whose brother got cancer.  As he watched this student struggle with life (as if middle school isn’t already tough enough), he tried to find some books to give her that would help her to deal with the situation.  He didn’t feel overly qualified to just give her advice.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any books that spoke to this student’s situation.  So he started researching it himself, and that is how Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie was born.

He since wrote a sequel to this book, After Ever After, which is just as well loved as Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie.

Because of the popularity of these books and the fact that Mr. Sonnenblick is so good at relating to middle school students, he has gone on to write several more books that truly speak to the kids that are reading them.

About the Book

This book follows the story of Steven, an 8th grader who is already trying to maneuver the middle school life.  But then, when his 5-year-old brother gets a nose bleed that doesn’t stop, and upon going to the doctor, finds out that he has cancer.

This turns Steven’s whole family’s life upside down.  And the rest of the story deals with how they handle thins and the new life they face.

It was very well written, but also written in a style that speaks well to middle schoolers.  The message will resonate well with anyone who reads the book because Mr. Sonnenblick has a very poignant style that speaks to the heart.

And I wouldn’t be surprised that you go on to read a good number of the books he has written.  This would actually be a great book to read with your students or children, because it has so much real life to talk about.

It has been chosen for many book clubs across America.  I found it to be such a good self-care book because often middle school kids are so consumed by the stressors around them that they don’t take a minute to breathe and think about the ways that they can emerge  out of their situation a better and more whole person.  This books allows Steven to do this as crazy swirls around him.  And that will inspire your students/kids to grow through loving and helping others that have a more difficult life than them.

The Self-Love Workbook for Teens: A Transformative Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Build Healthy Mindsets, and Embrace Your True Self 


Rabbit Trail:  The Self Esteem Movement

I remember for a good amount of time several years ago that adults were talking about how the self-esteem movement was causing kids to be too self-assured and not compassionate and caring enough about others.  For those of us old enough to remember the 80’s and 90’s, it was actually called the Self-Esteem Movement.  You can read more about that in this article.

That article goes on to say that the self esteem movement actually caused countless people harm because it isolated self esteem as a characteristic on its own, rather than as the product of hard work, success, talent, and many other factors.

I need to add here that I am not a doctor and have not been formally educated in these matters.  So everything that I am talking about here is my opinion based on research and observation over the years.  If you are struggling with these issues, see your doctor and get professional advice and help!

What I have found over the years, is that there is an exterior of self esteem that is hiding a very fearful interior that people are afraid to let be seen.  And both sides can be very unhealthy if not balanced correctly.

And that is where this book comes in.

About the Book

The reason I am recommending this book is because I have the  adult version of it.  You can look more into that book here.

It would be best to get the paperback version instead of the Kindle version because it is a workbook and would be so much better for the reader to be able to just fill in the answers in the workbook than to have a separate notebook.  This is especially important later, as they may want to go back through it and it will be much easier for all of the material to be in one place.

Working Through This Book

So the things I love about this book are that each section is only a couple of pages and the questions are pointed enough to be easy to answer but then give a huge amount to think about and apply regarding it.

This book makes it very clear that self love is  not just a random feeling that you turn on.  Rather it is a result of making yourself emotionally healthy and processing through the difficult times in life in a wise and beneficial way.

The Self Love Workbook for Teens helps the reader improve their social emotional health through improved thinking, controlled response, organization and planning, emotional regulation, and identity development.

On the flip side, this book makes it very clear that self love is not about entitlement, selfishness, sinfulness, or excuse making.

It helps teens to work through such issues as abuse, overly comparing themselves to others (often without even realizing it), mental illness, and danger.   But it also deals heavily with the everyday issues that shake up younger people and make life difficult to navigate.

This book just keeps on getting better as you go through it.  It is one of the best self-care books for middle schoolers because it walks them through some difficult processes in ways that are broken down into easy to digest pieces.  In fact, it is broken down into seven segments of self-love.  They will literally emerge from this book feeling like a new person.

About the Author

Shainna Ali is a mental health counselor, educator, and advocate.

She has an amazing gift of helping us to see these very difficult concepts in incredibly easy ways.  I am  not saying that implementing those things and turning them into habits is easy.  But she does make it easy to understand and her action steps are easy to get you started along that road.

One of the biggest goals that Ms. Ali has worked on over the years is destigmatizing the emotional health counseling model.  As someone who has been through some amazing counseling myself, I could not agree and support her goal more wholeheartedly.  Honestly, I would find the world to be a much better place if we all had some of this counseling as part of our preparation for emerging into the world as a healthy adult.  Maybe someday this will be a staple of schools of all types across America!

Ms. Ali has a PhD. and is owner and operator of Integrated Counseling Solutions, LLC, a strengths-based clinical mental health and consulting practice located in Downtown Orlando.

So Many Accolades!

Her incredibly long list of accolades includes:

  • A Psychology Today-hosted blog called A Modern Mentality
  • Contributor for the American Counseling Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Featured on ABC, NBC, Yahoo, Bustle, NPR, The Washington Post, and The Insider
  • Past President of the Florida Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development

The list goes on, but I’m sure you get the point.

This book is a treasure trove that you will pay way less for than the cost of even one counseling session.  And with this book you are getting the opportunity to pick such an amazing brain and learn from it!

self-care books for middle schoolers


So these are the self-care books for middle schoolers that worked (and continue to work) wonders in helping our teens and pre-teens navigate their very difficult world.  I hope that you are able to get as much value from them as we did.

What books and resources worked for you?  Has anybody had experience with any of these books?  I would love to hear your experience with any materials you have used.

If you enjoyed this article, I think you will also enjoy the following articles:

Problem-Based Learning:  Boost Your Students Success in the Real World

Using Literature to Combat Bullying

How Teachers Can Encourage Introverted Students

How to Identify and Help Students With Eating Disorders:  A Guest Post

This Post Has 100 Comments

  1. World In Eyes

    its amazing to know about all of it….. especially the book “The Anxiety, Depression & Anger Toolbox for Teens: 150 Powerful Mindfulness, CBT & Positive Psychology Activities to Manage Emotions’ seems to be very helpful for all the teens….. Coz a teen is at such a developmental stage where it is necessary to keep calm and avoid the anger….. It would be really helpful……. m seriously inspired by this….Thnks for sharing it with all of us….

    1. Marie

      Thank you! I hope you find it helpful.

      1. World In Eyes

        Yes Marie, your work on learning and teaching material is not only helpful for me but you articles are the guide of all teachers around the globe, I have shared some with my friends who are teaching in High and Middle schools.

        1. Marie

          That is so encouraging to know. Thank you, Teerath!

  2. flawlessfooduk

    I need these books my daughter 11 and a half! The emotions are coming through so much advice for babies, toddler, primary ages but then the advice just stops!!

    Will take a look!

    1. Marie

      You will be so glad that you checked them out!

    2. Marie

      I hope you find them helpful!

  3. Journey Among Pines

    These are great! My son just went through Middle School pretty easily, he is such a well balanced kid. My daughter is on her way there, and I worry about her more. I will be bookmarking these books for then! I for sure don’t want to want to go back, and I don’t think I can relate as well with Middle School kids as I do with the elementary age kids! These will be a great asset!

    1. Marie

      I hope that you find them helpful! Maybe you can do the audio version while you are running!

  4. Amber

    I might have to get some of these for my daughter! I think she’d really like that workbook.

    1. Marie

      It really is amazing. Plus I have the adult one for me. It was so good for perspective.

  5. Tara Pittman

    Self care is a hot topic for middle school kids especially boys. My youngest had a hard time understanding the need for deoderant

    1. Marie

      I didn’t even get into the physical aspects. I was sticking to the social emotional stuff. I’ll save the hygiene for another day, lol.

  6. Adrienne

    Thank you for these suggestions. We often forget about the self care of these kiddos that need it too!

    1. Marie

      So true, Adrienne. And if we can get them healthy at a young age, how much more prepared for life will they be than we were?

  7. CA

    Looking back, during my teen years, I was left to take care of myself. And my peers greatly influenced me during those times. Glad that several books are now available for both kids and parents to talk about.

  8. You have some GREAT choices here. I’ve read the last 2, but The Anxiety, Depression & Anger Toolbox for Teens is a new one for me. I work with kids in an after-school music program and have been ‘that adult’ that they feel comfortable talking to on many many occasions (I think the blue hair and tattoos makes me seem less adult and more approachable lol). For that reason, I’m always trying to stay on top of things like this. I will definitely check that book out!

    1. Marie

      I loved it! I hope it works for you too. And many times, those kids will open the flood gates as soon as we know we care and we’re listening. 🙂

  9. littlemisadvencha

    self-care is one of the most underrated things to do. many of us forget about it. this post is indeed really helpful for our teens. thank you for sharing!

    1. Rose ann sales

      It’a good that the’re books like this, to help the teenagers nowadays how to face adulthood later on.

  10. Nyxinked

    Excellent suggestion. Teens need to learn about and understand the importance of self-care too, something which was lost on me as a kid.

    1. Marie

      Same for me, Nyxie. Imagine what a better start kids today could have with a concentration on these issues?

  11. Krysten Quiles

    These are such great suggestions, it’s so important to learn about self-care and what works best for you, no matter your age. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

  12. Passion Piece

    Self-care is a very important topic, no matter how old is the reader! Great suggestions, hope that teenagers will never stop reading such valuable books! 🙂

  13. Kristyn

    Self-care books are invaluable at any time in life. Thank you for providing all of this.

  14. Hollie

    Wow these all look great. I don’t have children, but I think we can all use self care sometimes. It can be difficult to remember that.

  15. I have so many new books to read! I teach middle school ELA and I think some of these would be great reads!

  16. expeditioneducation

    Great information. I am a Middle School Physical Education teacher and it is certainly a trying time for them

  17. Monidipa

    One of my neice is a middle schooler. I can surely suggest her this during the quaratine.

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Monidipa!

  18. Lisa @ Midwest Glam

    These are some interesting picks. The Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie actually sounds like a sad read. But I’m sure a good read.

    1. Marie

      You are exactly right, Lisa. Thanks for reading.

  19. Priya

    This a great list . Teenagers go through a lot in terms of emotions, physical changes as well as studies. I have got a few nieces and nephews who are middle schoolers and I might gift them these books.

  20. Chantal Gray

    This is so informative. Especially what is going on know, it is great that there are resources for them that can come to good use!!!

  21. Susan1375

    Very helpful post with some great ideas and books/authors I hadn’t heard of but will definitely read

  22. Tia J McKinzie

    I will have to check into this a bit. I have a pre teen and a teen who are both pretty moody.

    1. Marie

      I hope it is helpful, Tia.

  23. Amanda

    Great post! I have been finding ways to keep myself mentally healthy and did not think abt my preteen girls…these are some great book choices. Going to purchase a coupke for my kids.

    1. Marie

      That is a great idea, Amanda! Thanks for reading.

  24. Candy Rachelle

    It’s great for our teens to understand and practice self-care that they can carry on into adulthood!

    Candy Rachelle
    Keeping Up With Candy

  25. RHT_Stephen

    With the schools in the UK still closed, I imagine there are quite a few children dealing with a new type of stress and various other mental health conditions, I’m going to share this on my Facebook and hopefully help someone

  26. I like the topic that touches upon the self-care books for our teens. Not many speak about self-care beginning at this age. But that when we could support our kids to grow up into the grownups who care about themselves, too.

  27. paolo

    Thank you for these recommendations. My niece is in middle school and these books will be helpful

  28. Ann

    Confidence and self-esteem is a big issue amongst our young once, or lack there of… I do hope this helps some kids 🙂

  29. Gervin Khan

    I don’t have a teen yet but this book sounds like a great help to all teens to understand the important of self-care.

  30. Monidipa

    They sound really good. I will suggest it to my youngst neice.

  31. Gervin Khan

    Definitely a very timely post that help our kids to maintain strong will and keep intact every emotion that this pandemic that the whole world is experiencing.

  32. Jordan

    Love this idea. We always think of self care as it pertains to adults, juggling busy lives and taking care of kids, butrarely do you hear about it in terms of the kids and it’s so, so important!

  33. flamingodiaries

    Great suggestions. I wish I knew about one of these books when I was a teenager. Nevertheless, I might get one of these for my 13 year old niece. Thanks for writing this.

  34. littlemisadvencha

    I love that kids will engage to reading as a form of self-care. not only that they will learn something new, it will also help them on becoming an adult soon. 🙂

  35. Emjhay

    This is a very nice pics, I will recommend it to my little cousins.

  36. This is a really good idea, as the younger the better that they learn the importance of self care. This keeps good mental health and well being x

  37. Rosey A

    I teach teens and feel that they take so many things to heart that we outgrow taking to heart when we are older. It’s nice to help them have tools to navigate.

    1. Marie

      I agree. How much easier would life have been for us if we had these tools as teenagers?

  38. Sushmita Malakar

    Thanks for sharing this! Teenage is the most sensitive time. My teenage was an emotional roller coaster. I wish I had the Teen self help work book then. I recently gifted it to my niece and she says it has helped her calm down during some difficult times.

    1. Marie

      I am glad to hear that. I think it is a huge help for us to be open and talking about it so we can help each other out. ♥

  39. amayszingblogs

    Wow awesome book for middle schoolers. Self-care is really important nowadays most of students they feel exhausted because of the school and peer pressure.

  40. Michelle

    Thank you for the great resources. We have one kiddo moving into the tween years and I think we might go ahead check out a couple of these at our local library. (Well………..when it is open again.) Thanks for the info, it is always a plus to hear about parent recommendations.

    1. Marie

      That is a great idea, Michelle. Tell me how they do with them!

  41. Shannon Gurnee

    These look like some great products. Middle School is a tough time. Thanks for sharing.

  42. Papa Jack

    This article is super helpful. This is not just for middle schoolers but for adults in general. Super helpful.

    1. Marie

      Very true. Everyone needs to pay close attention to their own self care. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  43. Emman Damian

    The Anxiety, Depression & Anger Toolbox for Teens: 150 Powerful Mindfulness, CBT & Positive Psychology Activities to Manage Emotions seems like a great book for my niece. She would really love to read this book! Can’t wait to order for her.

  44. Nilakshi

    A self improvement book should always come with a worksheet. I am happy to see that this book actually have a worksheet. Looks great!

  45. tweenselmom

    Reading would definitely help my daughters, who are middle schoolers expand their knowledge about the world and the things they could encounter in life. Thank you for recommending these books!

  46. Warp Speed Odyssey

    That was a great read. I remember high school and how it was hard to go through it with no self esteem.

    1. Marie

      I think a lot of us have the same memories of middle and high school. Such an unsure time for many!

  47. Mudpiefridays

    Thanks for sharing! I have not had time to read and wish I could read more. Thanks for the book recommendation

  48. aisasami

    What an important resource for middle schoolers. If I read self-care books when I was in middle school, life would be so much different!

    1. Marie

      I agree. The same would be true for me!

  49. Joanna

    I think it’s so important that teens read books about self care when they are in school, and not just the classic literature that is compulsory. They are going through so many changes and they need characters to relate to.

    1. Marie

      Absolutely true, Joanna! They will apply it so much better when they can relate.

  50. Those are all wonderful books to check out. It’s great to have and know these self care books.

    1. Marie

      I have enjoyed doing them with my own kids!

  51. Billy Sandoval

    These are some great Self Care books to read. Will have to check this out.

  52. Natalie

    All these books sound amazing and really interesting. Thanks for sharing your list. I’m will bookmark some.

  53. Genny Elizabeth Gall

    Because reading not only has multiple benefits for comprehensive development, but it is a real plan to help them stay focused

  54. The Joyous Living

    good list. i am sure this will be very helpful for parents and teens. i like how #1 is written not just for teens but also their parents and therapists.

    1. Marie

      That first book was one of my favorites for the same reason you are talking about here. It should be required reading for everyone!

  55. Brianne

    These are great picks to go with a really important topic. Self-care is usually something that people talk about regarding adults, but if any age range needs it, it’s teens!

    1. Marie

      I agree, Brianne. The earlier we can model this and teach our kids, the better!

  56. Iris Findlay

    This is so helpful! I wish I had known about these around that age.

    1. Marie

      I wish the same, Iris. I would have been saved a lot of struggle and heartache had I understood social emotional maturity!

  57. Kevin Brotac

    Teenage years are really difficult, we go through a lot of changes, and most of the time we do not understand how to deal with it. This list is a great start to help a teenager and also encourage them to read.

    1. Marie

      Yes, Kevin! Anything we can do to help teens’ journey a little smoother just helps to set them up for adulthood even better.

  58. Self-care is so important! And I think learning about it younger is wonderful. Our wellbeing really depends on it. I love that you’re sharing these self-care reads for middle schoolers!

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Sara! Everything you said resonates so well with me!

  59. Kileen

    All of these books sound really good for teens. I don’t have any teens yet but my kids sure are growing up fast. It’s good to know that there are resources out there to help.

    cute & little

    1. Marie

      At least you are ahead of the game, Kileen! I hope these are a great help for your young ones, even as they prepare for the teenage years.

  60. Aliceee Traveler

    “Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie” really captured my attention. It sounds a bit sad but I’ll recommend it for happy days. I’ll send out this list to my friends as well, for their girls.

    1. Marie

      It is sad at times, but does a great job of making lemons into lemonade! I would definitely have a dialog with my kids that are reading this rather than just hand it to them to figure out on their own.

  61. Sarah M

    It’s important to have self-care awareness for children. I would definitely recommend self-care books to every parent and child.

  62. Ronnie

    Thank you for the very helpful recommendations. We are having trouble guiding our teenager through some issues and the first book on your list could be what we all need.

    1. Marie

      I hope that you find it helpful, Ronnie! Remember to give your teenager a hug and let them know that you’re in their corner and fighting FOR them and not against them! Sometimes they forget that we are their biggest allies!

  63. Shilpa bindlish

    Oh great! Never thought that self care books can be a good choice for teens. Need to bring a few for my son surely.

    1. Marie

      I think that he will love learning how to deal with issues in such a grown up way. Once they start realizing that they can indeed function well in society, they will take their wings and fly!

  64. Jody

    This is good list , I will try to read it soon thank you very much 👏🏼😊

  65. Gaica DC San

    This is a great list. This is what I really need. A book that could feed my mind and soul. Will def look into this .

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