Even before I had my Instagram page and this website, my friends frequently asked me to recommend books that would help their children work through fears and worries. Since starting to recommend books publically, I get asked for this even more frequently. Maybe it’s the age of my children and their friends, but it seems like I get asked for titles of books for fear and worry every other week… So, it’s about time that I just compiled a list of good books to help children cope with fear and worry!
While I had a few titles in mind, I asked for some recommendations on Instagram a few weeks ago, and you all delivered! Below are my favorites, both from my experience and from your recommendations. The books I’m recommending all have tangible strategies children can use to help overcome fear and worry. I’ve tried to make little notes about each book, whether it addresses a specific fear or general worry, and specific strategies given to overcome said fear and worry. I hope you can find books to help your children, and if they don’t need these now, bookmark this page for future reference!
And, remember to be flexible, even though I list specific fears that some of these books address. Your child may not have a specific fear of dogs, the dark, water, etc., but those books may introduce strategies for dealing with fear that would be helpful to your child. Sometimes reading a book about the specific fear your child is dealing with is helpful, but sometimes children need a book that is slightly different from their reality in order to step back and be open-minded about their own walks.
*** Links below are Amazon Affiliate links. When you use these links to purchase books, your price stays the same, but I get a tiny commission… Which I usually turn right around and use on books!
My current favorite books for fear and worry:
Worry Says What? by Allison Edwards, illustrated by Ayesha L. Rubio
- General worry about many things, snowballing worries; provides great visual of how worries can grow and follow you around (or get smaller and leave when you counter with positive self-talk)
- Physical effect of worry: “tie my tummy up in knots” and “make my heart beat very fast”; Worry is a voice in your head
- Strategies: positive self-talk (“develop a counter statement to their worry”); naming “Worry”; talking directly to Worry
- Also has a page at the back titled “Tips for Helping Children Overcome Worry”
Silly Billy written and illustrated by Anthony Browne
- General worry about many things (the biggest worry for Billy was sleeping at someone else’s house)
- Strategy: worry dolls (with a neat note about the Guatemalan tradition of worry dolls, or trouble dolls)
The Worry Box by Suzanne Chiew, illustrated by Sean Julian
- General worry about many things
- Physical effect of worry: “tummy felt tight”
- Strategies: talking about worries, writing worries down and putting them in a Worry Box
- Usable mantras: “Sharing worries always makes them feel smaller.” “Worrying won’t stop me!”
Hannah and Sugar written and illustrated by Kate Berube
- Fear of dogs
- Strategy: close eyes and take a deep breath
Jabari Jumps written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall
- Fear of jumping off of the diving board
- Strategies: Take deep breaths, think of what’s coming as a surprise instead of something scary
Nightsong by Ari Beck, illustrated by Loren Long
- Fear of dark, fear of leaving parents/separation anxiety, fear of getting lost
- Strategy: sing a song (I actually really love the way this connects bats use of echolocation to the concept of singing a song to combat fear and worry– so clever!)
- Usable mantra: “Sense is the song you sing out into the world, and the song the world sings back to you. Sing, and the world will answer. That is how you’ll see.”
Willow’s Whispers by Lana Button, illustrated by Tania Howells
- Fear of talking to new people, shyness; anxiety in new settings
- Physical effect: loss of appetite
- I love the way the father addresses Willow’s voice and supports her growth at her own pace, in her own way
- Strategy: Create a “tool” (magic microphone) to help you talk louder
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein, illustrated by Mark Pett
- Fear of mistakes; perfectionism; fear of not living up to others’ expectations
- Strategies: laugh; make small mistakes on purpose to practice
Saturday is Swimming Day written and illustrated by Hyewon Yum
- Fear of the water, fear of swimming
- Physical effect: stomach hurts
- Strategy: Go at your own pace, take small steps to accomplish the bigger goal
When I Was a Child, I Was Always Afraid by Michael Cascio, illustrated by Bentley Wong
- Addresses general fear and worry
- Strategy: Talk to an adult, face things that scare you in order to better understand them and overcome the fear
Faith-based books for fear and worry:
Quinn’s Promise Rock by Christie Thomas, illustrated by Sydney Hanson
- Addresses fear of getting lost/separation anxiety
- Strategy: Have a small comfort item (in this case, a rock) in pocket to remind you of truth
- Usable mantras: Various Biblical truths about God’s presence
It Will Be Okay: Trusting God through Fear and Change by Lysa TerKeurst, illustrated by Natalia Moore
- Addresses fear of change, moving; fear of the unknown
- Strategy: Talk to a friend about your fears
- Usable mantras: “But the Farmer was good, and the Farmer was kind, and the Farmer was always watching over them. Even when they didn’t know it”, “God loves you, and He is kind”, and other Biblical truths
Other books we love or that you all recommended:
*** Many of these are amazing and worth mentioning, but don’t necessarily have a tangible strategy for dealing with the fear or worry.
The Empty Pot written and illustrated by Demi — fear of failure, disappointment, not living up to expectations
Thundercake written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco — fear of thunder
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, illustrated by Ruth Harper and Nancy Leak– starting school worries, separation anxiety
Where the Wild Things Are written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak– fear of monsters
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr–clear message about being brave
The WorryWoo Monsters series by Andi Green
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld– ways to help kids talk about worries and fears
School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson– starting school worries
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff– separation anxiety
My dear from Courtney from OT OuTside (and amazing OT Clinical Doctorate and rockstar mama of 2) wrote a blog post earlier this week about self-regulation. Be sure to check it out, too– she has yet another book with a strategy for dealing with worries, and many other ideas for regulating these feelings of fear and worry when they happen!
Have you ever read any of these books with your children? Comment below with a brief story below of how you used them and how they helped!
9 thoughts on “Books for Helping Children Cope with Fears and Worries”
Fantastic list! We like What Do You Do With a Problem as well.
Ooh, great one!!!
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