Contemporary middle-grade books increasingly show an awareness of the impact of mental health concerns on children and young teens. This critical representation serves to increase compassion, reduce stigma, model healthy ways of coping, and help young people feel seen. The following titles are compelling reads and enlightening conversation starters that end on reassuring notes.

The sometimes-terrifying consequences of sharing content online are sensitively addressed in Sydney Dunlap’s It Happened on Saturday (Jolly Fish Press, Feb. 21), in which eighth grader Julia is groomed by the confederate of a human trafficker. Lonely and struggling socially, she’s a vulnerable target for suave Tyler, whose excessive attention hides his ulterior motives. Julia exemplifies post-traumatic growth as, with the help of counseling, she works through her near miss and uses her experience to educate others.

Science-fiction elements are creatively woven into an emotional family story in Izzy at the End of the World by K.A. Reynolds (Clarion/HarperCollins, Feb. 21). Izzy, 14, lost her mother to cancer. This was hard enough—but she’s left reeling when strange lights appear in the sky and her remaining family members vanish. Izzy sets out with her dog to figure out what happened to them. Her anxiety, depression, and autism are thoughtfully woven into her characterization.

In Aniana del Mar Jumps In by Jasminne Mendez (Dial Books, March 14), the adverse impact of a parent’s PTSD is compassionately explored. Ani has a passion and talent for swimming—but it’s something she must do in secret, supported by Papi. Since her twin brother drowned before her eyes, leaving her suffering nightmares, Mami has been terrified of the water. Ani’s new diagnosis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis complicates matters as she learns to live with both a disability and her mother’s heightened protectiveness.

Mirror to Mirror by Rajani LaRocca (Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins, March 21) is a beautifully rendered novel in verse that follows Maya and Chaya, 12-year-old identical twins whose close relationship comes under strain. The sisters absorb the tension of their parents’ fighting. They also struggle with the anxiety that Maya, who is more tightly wound, is trying to keep hidden. Chaya’s well-intentioned attempt to help relieve some of her sister’s stress has unintended consequences.

In this nuanced, atmospheric novel, 10-year-old Julia tries to help her mother who has bipolar disorder. Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, illustrated by Tom de Freston (Union Square Kids, March 28), follows a family spending the summer in Scotland’s Shetland Islands, where Mum is studying the elusive Greenland shark. As Mum’s mental health spirals, Julia initially feels she’s lost her but ultimately comes to recognize that she’s “found the real Mum, with her complications and tangles and tears.”

Shannon in the Spotlight by Kalena Miller (Delacorte, April 25) skillfully weaves the protagonist’s OCD into her characterization: It’s an inescapable part of her life but certainly not the entirety of it, as Shannon performs in youth theater, navigates shifting friendship dynamics, and crushes on a boy. Shannon is supported in living with her OCD by her therapist, but she feels the weight of managing her mother’s worries, and her maternal grandmother is not very understanding of her needs.

Susan Tan insightfully explores the impact of life’s traumas and a parent’s mental illness in Ghosts, Toast, and Other Hazards (Roaring Brook Press, April 25). Twelve-year-old Mo is going through a lot: Her beloved stepfather suddenly left the family, her mother is consumed by deep depression, they’ve moved and now live with Mo’s great-uncle, and she faces bullying at her new school. It’s no wonder Mo begins to dwell on anxious fears about all the ways life can go wrong.

Laura Simeon is a young readers’ editor.