Picture books can be powerful tools for helping kids with anxiety. They can help young kids understand and manage their feelings, develop coping skills, and feel less alone. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why picture books are so effective for helping kids with anxiety and share some of our favorite books about worry and anxiety.
Anxiety is a common experience for many children of all ages. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 8 children experience an anxiety disorder. While some anxiety can be a normal part of growing up, more severe anxiety can interfere with a child’s life and make it difficult for them to enjoy activities, learn, and socialize.
Whether a child worries about mom leaving the room (separation anxiety) or being made fun of by kids at school (social anxiety), children’s books can provide helpful strategies that teach kids to overcome anxiety. They can help kids understand and manage their feelings, develop coping skills, and feel less alone. When young readers see an anxious child in a book who is experiencing similar feelings, they feel validated and realize every child worries. Picture books can also teach kids beneficial coping strategies, such as deep breathing, relaxation techniques, and positive self-talk.
Here are some of the specific ways kids’ books about anxiety can be helpful:
When choosing picture books about anxiety, it’s important to select books that are appropriate for a child’s age and developmental level. It’s also important to choose books that have positive messages and offer concrete coping strategies.
“My stomach feels like it’s tied up in a knot. My knees lock up, and my face feels hot. You know what I mean? I’m Wilma Jean, The Worry Machine.” This hilarious book discusses the problem of worryin a way that relates to kids of all ages. The purpose of the book is to give children the strategies needed to feel manage their anxiety. This colorful book has helpful tips for young children in particular. Also available on Amazon.
Author of best-seller Why Smart Kids Worry, Allison Edwards, shows how anxiety whispers fears to kids and then gives ways to silence those worries. With actionable tips throughout, a story that resonates, and playful illustrations, Worry Says What? will help kids (and grownups) change their thinking when fearful thoughts start and turn those thoughts into helpful reminders of all they can accomplish. Also available on Amazon.
Neuroeducation consultant and author Noel Foy, shares a practical approach to anxiety that will help kids manage problems they face each day. In A.B.C. Worry Free, readers will find a clear three-step plan to change their thoughts on worries and fears. Kids will learn about the cycle of anxious thoughts and gain tools to master their anxiety. Also available on Amazon.
What does worry sound like to a kid? Beat, beat, thump. Beat, beat, thump. Alex feels that pulse in his heart as he faces problems at school, struggles with friends, and fear of new things. In this sweet story, Alex learns to listen to his heart when he feels both anxiety and peace, and he finds out how his powerful and brave heart has brought him through difficult things. Also available on Amazon.
Hopp the raindrop is afraid of new things and is content with his normal life. He soon learns that staying where he is holds him back from impacting those around him. Don’t Be Afraid to Drop is a story for anyone who is transitioning to new things in their lives. From kids entering kindergarten, to adults looking at retirement, and everyone between, this playful analogy will give readers a positive outlook on change, taking changes, and giving back. Also available on Amazon.
When Emma finds out she made the track team, she’s excited…and a little scared. It quickly becomes clear that Emma isn’t the fastest one in her family. Or the most coordinated. Emma begins to consider giving up…until her teacher invites a special guest to share with her class about failure. The speaker surprises them by saying that you don’t need to be afraid of failing – it’s actually something to celebrate! As her friends share their own failures, Emma realizes that maybe failure is actually a stop on the road to success. Also available on Amazon.
Zoey Harmon wants to feel carefree, but annoying “books” in her backpack keep weighing her down – books like anxety and shame. Kids everywhere are carrying heavy backpacks that are filled with more than just textbooks. Everyday they also carry the heavy load of hard life experiences and big emotions. This book features ways to build resilience in body and mind, and helps children effected by trauma realize how strong they really are! Also available on Amazon.
We all feel anxiety and fear sometimes, and young kids are no exception. Friendly and supportive, this bilingual English-Spanish book explains what worries are and how it feels to be anxious, assuring kids that lots of children – and adults too – feel worried. Talking about our fears, moving our bodies, keeping hands busy, deepy breathing, getting a big hug, and positive thinking are all ways for kids to cope with their anxiety. Also available on Amazon.
Stress can make you feel worried, nervous, and afraid. It can leave you jumpy and jittery, cranky and uptight. When kids show signs of stress, they need tools to help them manage their stress. With playful artwork, humor, and tons of real-life examples, this book helps children understand what stress is—and gives lots of strategies to cope. Also available on Amazon.
In this helpful story, younger kids and readers learn strategies to help when they feel worried, nervous, or fearful. Tips for how to calm down and cope with fears are explained clearly, and include ideas such as breathing exercises and playing with friends to asking for help from a grown up. Also available on Amazon.
In this engaging book that speaks to kids and grown-ups alike, the everyday balancing of family and friends, homework and school, and everything else is addressed. Strategies are offered to help manage stress in a healthy and helpful way, so the reader can face life’s daily pressures and find happiness in being who they were meant to be. Also available on Amazon.
At the Ant Hill School, the teacher wants her class to be prepared – for everything! One day, the students learn what to do if a “dangerous someone” is in their school. This important book gives practical steps on what should be done if there is a violent intruder event. The concepts are applicable to all ages and shared in a non-fearful way. Also available on Amazon.
Ruby is a joyful, inquisitive, and creative girl. One day she discovers something she did not expect: a Worry. It doesn’t start out very big, but each day it continues to grow until it is HUMUNGOUS and all she can think about it. This picture book a great discussion point to share with kids about their fears. Also available on Amazon.
Did you know that worries are like tomatoes? You don’t eat them, but they can grow by simply paying attention to them. With engaging metaphors and artwork, this book uses cognitive-behavioral techniques to teach skills that help reduce anxiety. Also available on Amazon.
Meet Wince, the biggest worrier you will ever meet. When he starts to feel anxious, his WorryBug shows up. At first the WorryBug is little, but the more Wince worries the bigger the WorryBug gets. This book shows that everyone worries, but we don’t want those little fears to grow into huge worries. Also available on Amazon.
Imagine if you had a dragon for a pet! He can roll over, sit, and play…but what if your dragon is always anxious about everything? What if he is scared about this spelling test even though he studied? Or what if he is anxious about going to the doctor’s office? What if your dragaon is always asking “what if?” You should teach him how to mangage his worries! Also available on Amazon.
Everywhere Jenny goes, she always has her big, blue bag of worries. They are with her at home, in class, and even in the bathroom! They have to go, but who will help Jenny get rid of them? This helpful picture book let’s children share about their fears and teaches them to manage their emotions. Also available on Amazon.
Wemberly is anxious about big things, little things, and everything in between. Wemberly is especially worried about going to school. In her class she meets a another worrywart, and Wemberly soon finds out that school is too much fun to waste time being anxious! Also available on Amazon.
Give your child the tools to remain calm and find peace when worries come. This helpful workbook provides engaging and practical emotion regulation strategies and mindfulness activities to help children deal with panic, fears, stress, worry, and anxious thoughts. Also available on Amazon.
Childhood anxiety is on the rise and studies have learned there is a link between children with active imaginations and worry. Using cognitive behavioral therapy activities, this workbook gives a unique approach to helping kids use their imagination to manage fear and build self-esteem. Also available on Amazon.
A common anxiety disorder in children is Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This workbook offers children engaging and fun activities to help them deal with their worry, stop self-talk, and discuss thier feelings. These exercises can be done alone of as part of a therapy program. Also available on Amazon.
In the updated edition of Mindfulness for Teen Anxiety, teens learn effective mindfulness exercises to help manage anxiety, identify typical triggers (like social media, testing and grades, and relationships), learn important time-management skills, and feel more peace with family and friends. Also available on Amazon.
Being a teen can be hard. You have lots to worry about – grades, friends, the future. Those are normal worries, but what about chronic worrying – the fears that wake you in the middle of the night? Mindfulness for Teen Worry will teach you how to live in the moment and stay grounded. These effective mindfulness skills will equip you to handle both big and small worries. Also available on Amazon.
It’s time to retrain your brain! Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance commitment therapy (ACT), mindfulness, and neuroscience, this book will give you the ten most helpful strategies for “rewiring” your worried and anxious brain. Also available on Amazon.
Millions of teens deal with social anxiety disorder (SAD). This book provides a clear, five-step cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program to help you manage you anxieties and fears. You will learn to notice triggers and the behaviors you do to avoid social situations, along with the skills needed to control your worries. Also available on Amazon.
Break free from the anxiety that keeps you from accomplishing your goals. By using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) the The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens helps you identify your “monkey mind”—the primitive part of the brain where anxious thoughts arise. You will learn effective tools for managing the hardest problems that made you feel anxious in the past. Also available on Amazon.
BONUS BOOKS FOR ADULTS:
Giving students the tools to handle their stress and anxiety is a must as a school counselor, educator, or administrator. 15-Minute Focus: Anxiety: Worry, Stress, and Fear explains the progression from a trigger to a full-blown anxiety attack, and offers multiple prevention and intervention tips. Also available on Amazon.
Are you looking for proven stress-reduction strategies to assist you and your students? This workbook is full of interactive activities and life-changing practices that will help your students, coworkers, and yourself reduce stress and manage energy in all areas of your lives. Also available on Amazon.
When reading children’s books about managing anxiety with young kids, it’s important to create a safe and supportive environment. Here are some tips:
Picture books can be a wonderful starting point for conversations about anxiety between children and their parents, caregivers, and teachers. By talking about anxiety openly, children can learn more about the ways it shows up and tips and tricks for managing it now and as part of a strategy for long-term success.
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