5 Books for Kids with ADHD

By Dr. Mary Rooney, Ph.D.

Helping kids with ADHD understand themselves and their ADHD symptoms isn’t easy. Many kids with ADHD have very little insight into their own behavior. They don’t realize that they’re daydreaming, acting impulsively, or moving around more than other kids. In fact, they often don’t notice that they’re doing anything out of the ordinary until they get called out on it by a parent, teacher, or classmate who is frustrated by their behavior. They may feel like they are different from other kids or start to believe that they are a “bad kid” who “can’t do anything right,” but they often struggle to understand why they feel this way. Age-appropriate books with characters who have ADHD symptoms can be a great resource when it comes to helping kids with ADHD understand their own experiences. These books can spark “aha” moments for kids and serve as excellent conversation starters for meaningful discussions between parents and kids.

Here are five books that I recommend for kids with ADHD who are newly diagnosed, or those who have known about their ADHD for a while but are struggling to understand their differences.

Marvin's Monster Diary: ADHD Attacks! (But I Rock It, Big Time)
by Raun Melmed, Annette Sexton, and Jeff Harvey
For 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade kids who love The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Attacks is sure to be a hit! Marvin is a monster who is distractible, impulsive, and energetic. He’s constantly getting into trouble at home and at school. Overall, things don’t go well for Marvin until he learns some special tricks that ultimately help him keep his ADHD symptoms in check. For a child with ADHD, this book will help validate their experiences and emotions and will get them thinking about mindfulness strategies that they can use to help make their days better. It’s not likely that a child will read this book and suddenly start using the strategies on their own, so the author has included a parent guide so parents can help their kids use the strategies at home. 

Get Ready for Jetty!: My Journal About ADHD and Me
by Jeanne Kraus
Elementary school girls with ADHD will relate to Jetty, a 4th grader who is newly diagnosed with ADHD. Written in journal form, this book takes kids through Jetty’s journey of struggling in school and with friends, getting tested and diagnosed with ADHD, and working with her teachers, parents, and doctor to feel better. This easy to read and engaging book will be embraced by even the most reluctant readers.

All Dogs Have ADHD
by Kathy Hoopman
All Dogs Have ADHD pairs photos of energetic, distractible, funny, and adorable dogs with easy to understand descriptions of ADHD traits. The book’s simple format is great for kids with ADHD who don’t usually enjoy reading. The humor and joy conveyed in the photos help highlight the positive side of ADHD, and kids who love dogs will enjoy seeing the similarities between themselves and their favorite pets.

Shelley the Hyperactive Turtle
by Deborah Moss and Carol Schwartz
For young kids with ADHD (around ages 4-6), Shelley the Hyperactive Turtle is a great resource. It can be extremely difficult to explain the concept of hyperactivity to very young kids. Kids with ADHD will see themselves in Shelley, and the book can start some great conversations between kids and parents. If a child is taking medication for ADHD, they’ll also relate to the part of the story where Shelley goes to the doctor and gets medicine for ADHD too.

Mrs. Gorski I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets (The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses)
by Barbara Esham and Mike Gordon
This book does a nice job of emphasizing the inattentive symptoms of ADHD – being easily distracted. having trouble focusing, and making mistakes – as well as some of the hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. The main character, David, has a hard time staying in his seat during class and is often getting in trouble for not paying attention or for making “careless” mistakes. Kids with ADHD will relate to the feelings of embarrassment and frustration that David feels when he can’t control his ADHD symptoms. They will also experience a sense of hope and determination when they see David triumph over his ADHD and find strategies that work for him.



Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.


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