Magazine Feature

Toolkit for "Washed Away"

Discover more stories about childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“Washed Away” tells the story of Max, a young boy whose worries are getting in the way of daily life. The story ends as Max begins facing the challenges of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Over one million children and adolescents in the United States suffer from OCD, an illness that can be debilitating for the child in and out of school. Use the books below to build an understanding of OCD and how to support children and young adults coping with it.


Essential Questions

  1. What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?
  2. How can I teach and learn about childhood OCD through literature?


Elementary Grades

Up and Down the Worry Hill: A Children's Book About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Its Treatment by Aureen Pinto Wagner, Ph.D. Lighthouse Press, 2013. 

An expert in treating childhood OCD with cognitive behavioral therapy, Wagner uses the powerful metaphor of the Worry Hill, used in real-life situations, to describe OCD and its treatment clearly and simply through the eyes of a child.


A Thought Is Just a Thought: A Story of Living With OCD by Leslie Talley. Lantern Books, 2004. 

Jenny and her mother go to Dr. Mike for help with Jenny’s OCD. She learns how to overcome her fears by rethinking the bad thoughts. Eventually, she stops dwelling on the thought and its irrational consequences, realizing that, after all, a thought is just a thought.


Mr. Worry: A Story About OCD by Holly L. Niner (Author) and Greg Swearingen (Illustrator). Albert Whitman, 2004. 

Kevin’s worries are keeping him up at night. He checks under his bed for a light he knows isn't there, and then, a minute later, he checks again. Even though he wants them to stop, Kevin’s worries just keep coming.


What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming OCD by Dawn Huebner (Author) and Bonnie Matthews (Illustrator). Magination Press, 2007. 

This guide provides children and their parents with examples, activities and step-by-step instructions for cognitive-behavioral techniques used to treat OCD.


Blink, Blink, Clop, Clop: Why Do We Do Things We Can't Stop? An OCD Storybook by E. Katia Moritz (Author), Jennifer Jablonsky (Author), Rick Geary (Illustrator). Childswork/Childsplay, 2001. 

This humorous and inspiring storybook uses animals as the main characters to describe OCD and its most common symptoms.


Middle and High School Grades

The Adventures of Stretch More: Pick-Your-Path Stories for Solving Problems Together by Trina Epstein and Ross Greene. Woodbine House, 2014. 

This book includes three pick-your-path stories, and at key points in each story, you get to pick what happens next as Stretch learns to solve problems with his parents and teacher. Good for young people who have ADHD, Tourette's, OCD or Asperger's.


Breaking Free From OCD: A CBT Guide for Young People and Their Families by Jo Derisley, Isobel Heyman, Sarah Robinson and Cynthia Turner. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.

This guide offers teenagers a structured plan of treatment, which can be read alone or with a parent, counselor or mental health worker. Providing advice and worksheets, the book is for adolescents who have suffered from OCD or know someone who has suffered from OCD, their families, teachers and mental health professionals.


Being Me With OCD: How I Learned to Obsess Less and Live My Life by Alison Dotson. Free Spirit Publishing, 2014. 

Part memoir and part self-help for teens, this book tells the story of how OCD dragged the author to rock bottom—and how she found hope, got help and eventually climbed back to a fuller, happier life.


Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Praying (Among Other Things) by Abby Sher. Scribner, 2010.

Abby Sher is a happy child until the age of 10. When her father and favorite aunt pass away, she fills the void with rituals and compulsions. She is diagnosed with OCD in college, only to turn to more harmful and dangerous behaviors. It is only when her earliest, deepest fear is realized that Abby is forced to examine and redefine the terms of her faith and her future.


Teachers and Families

Teaching the Tiger: A Handbook for Individuals Involved in the Educations of Students With Attention Deficit Disorders, Tourette Syndrome or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Marilyn Dornbush and Sheryl Pruitt. Hope Press, 1995. 

One of the most frequently recommended collections of "sound educational strategies and practical insights" for families and teachers of students with ADD, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome and OCD.


Saving Sammy: A Mother’s Fight to Cure Her Son’s OCD by Beth Alison Maloney. Broadway Books, 2010. 

The summer before entering sixth grade, Sammy suddenly began to exhibit disturbing behavior. He walked and ate with his eyes shut, refused to bathe, burst into fits of rage, slithered against walls and used his limbs instead of his hands to touch light switches, doorknobs and faucets. Sammy was soon diagnosed with OCD and later with Tourette Syndrome.


Freeing Your Child From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Powerful, Practical Strategies for Parents of Children and Adolescents by Tamar Chansky, Ph.D. Three Rivers Press, 2001. 

A book for families, therapists and teachers which cracks the code of a confusing disorder and describes in detail the steps to take in tackling the four themes of OCD: contamination, checking, symmetry and intrusive bad thoughts.

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