Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes with Books for Older Readers

When was the last time someone said to you, "Walk a mile in his shoes"?

Reading is a way for us to see what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes. Because May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I'm recommending these books for older kids to help build empathy. After all, you never know what someone else is going through.

Lily and Dunkin features two strong characters: Lily, born Tim, identifies as a girl but is struggling to find acceptance in her family, and Norbert, or "Dunkin," who has bipolar disorder but doesn’t like the way his medication affects his basketball skills. Can Lily and Dunkin find a way to be their true selves without hurting the people they love?

In The 10 P.m. Question, 12-year-old Frankie feels anxious all the time. It doesn't help that he is responsible for keeping things together for his mother, who won't leave the house. Meeting free-spirited Sydney, who has a hard family situation of her own, inspires Frankie to seek the help he needs.

In Homesick, Benny's mother has moved out because his father hoards everything from pizza boxes to motorcycle parts. An important event in their small town brings neighbors together to support Benny and his family in their time of crisis.