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The school year has officially ended and it’s now summer break! Resting and having fun without the school bell schedule is a great way for the whole family to reset and recharge. But how do you prevent a restful summer break from becoming a restless one?

Last week, Elizabeth Snow, LCSW shared some great tips for keeping busy and reconnecting as a family with fun activities in order to maintain positive mental health all summer long. One of those tips included reading.

Your brain is like any other muscle in your body. Eating right and regularly exercising helps you maintain good physical health. Reading helps your brain stay healthy. Studies have shown that reading can reduce stress, increase self-esteem, lower rates of depression, and can even enhance creativity and the ability to empathize with others. There are so many benefits to reading!

Reading a book out loud with your children is a great way to bond and connect. If your child is past the reading out loud stage, you can still connect with them and strengthen your relationship by reading the same book and chatting about it. You can discuss the parts of the book they liked, the parts they didn’t and why. Check out your local library for books. Plus, the library is a great place to stay cool on hot summer days!

There are so many great books out there for every reading level. Here are a few of our favorite book recommendations for children and teens:

"The Invisible String" by Patrice Karst, for ages 4–8 years.

"The Invisible String" is a heartwarming story that describes the unbreakable connection between loved ones. The imaginative tale offers a hopeful, healing way for children to process loneliness, separation or loss.

"How Are You Peeling?" by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers, for ages 4–8 years.

Everyone experiences feelings! "How are You Peeling?" guides children through a range of feelings and gives them the vocabulary to express those feelings with the help of charming fruits and vegetables.

"The Feelings Book (Revised): The Care And Keeping Of Your Emotions" by Lynda Madison, for ages 8-12.

The pre-teen years can bring on lots of changes and new feelings. Written in conversational style, "The Feelings Book" helps girls understand these changes and normalizes the feelings they may be experiencing with practical advice and tips on how to deal with them. Topics covered include fear, anxiety, jealousy, grief and depression, along with when to seek professional help.

"Daris The Great Is Not Okay" by Adib Khorram, for ages 12-17 years.

"Darius the Great is Not Okay" is a coming of age story about a teen boy who struggles with clinical depression and doesn’t feel like he fits in anywhere — until he finds a friend who makes him feel accepted.

"Light Filters In: Poems" by Caroline Kaufman, for ages 13-17 years.

"Light Filters In: Poems" is a collection of short poems from teen Instagrammer @poeticpoison about her personal life experiences that remind readers that they’re not alone.

"it’s okay if some things/

are always out of reach.

if you could carry all the stars/

in the palm of your hand,

they wouldn’t be/

half as breathtaking"

-excerpt from "Light Filters In: Poems"

Happy reading!

 Patricia Costales, LCSW, is the CEO at The Guidance Center in Long Beach.

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