For years before the current pandemic we are experiencing, anxiety has been one of the top reasons for parents to bring their children into therapy. Our world is continually filled with unknowns and ever-growing pressures; it is no wonder why kids are filled with doubt and uncertainty as well. Talking about anxiety and worry is a great way for children to understand what they are feeling, as well as learn ways to cope with anxiety appropriately. Reading books on the subject can be a great way to open up a discussion on the topic.
Here are some of my favorite children’s books about anxiety that I read with my own children, share with my clients, and recommend to parents to read at home:
A Bad Case of the Stripes, by David Shannon … Sometimes if you try to hide who you truly are the end result is a lot of anxiety … or a really bad case of stripes. The book is particularly helpful for kids struggling with certain types of school and social anxiety.
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine, by Julia Cook … Wilma Jean has a horrible case of the “What ifs”. Her mom and teacher help her find solutions.
When Lizzy was Afraid of Trying New Things, by Inger Maier … sometimes anxiety is centered around fear of the unknown or trying new things. This tells the story of Lizzy the sheep and how she overcame her fear.
When Fuzzy was Afraid of Losing his Mother, by Inger Maier … Fuzzy (Lizzy’s brother from the above mentioned book) has separation anxiety.
The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn … I think of this book as the CLASSIC book about separation anxiety. It reminds us all that a parent’s love is always there. I use the Kissing Hand technique with both of my own kids all the time.
The Invisible String, by Patrice Karst … This is another great book for kids with separation anxiety, but also for anyone who has lost someone special in their life. The story covers the fear of loneliness and separation and how love keeps us tied together.
Henry’s Show and Tell, by Nancy Carlson … This is a great one for kids that have anxiety about talking at school or standing up in front of their class.
Wemberly Worried, by Kevin Henkes … Wemberly Worries about EVERYTHING. A great book about how she handles starting school … (but can be great for any child who worries a lot).
Wemberly’s Ice Cream Star, by Kevin Henkes … A cute story about coping with worry.
Sheila Rae, the Brave, by Kevin Henkes … How to cope in those times when you’re not feeling so brave.
The OK Book, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal … It’s ok, you don’t have to be great at everything!
Chopsticks, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal … A good book for those having trouble trying life out on their own.
Don't Feed the Worry Bug, by Andi Green ... Wince, a worry woo, learns that the more you feed the worry bug, the bigger he'll get.
You’ve Got Dragons, by Kathryn Cave .. This is my all-time favorite book about anxiety. It does SUCH a wonderful job of illustrating anxiety and discussing what works (and what doesn’t) in helping relieve it. Typically after I read this story in session I have my client (child, teen, or adult) draw a picture of their dragon. It can serve to be a wonderful starting point and continuing discussion about their unique anxiety issues.