Books can be immensely helpful in helping kids deal with anxiety. Here’s a list of my favorite anxiety books. I’m adding to it all the time and would love to hear about more!
Anxiety Books for Kids: Picture Books
- Duke’s Journey of Courage: Learning Skills to Cope with Anxiety by Tanya Lindquist (me) and illustrated by Tatyana Glebova is full of many of my favorite and most effective CBT techniques to help children with anxiety. Duke, the great surfing dog known for his special tricks and flips, gets a stomach ache right before his first surfing competition. Luckily, his quirky fairy dogfather comes to the rescue and teaches him many skills he can use to cope with anxiety. This children’s picture book is complete with memorable jingles to remember the skills by, as well as a parent’s guide with thoughts on how to talk to children about the different anxiety coping skills discussed in the book. It is written for children ages 6 and up. Click here to read a sample, buy a paperback copy on Amazon, or buy a print-at-home ebook for only $1.99 here.
- Don’t Feed the WorryBug by Andi Green and the parents’ resource guide Helping Young Worriers Beat the WorryBug by John Irvine is a great combo. Don’t Feed the WorryBug has darling illustrations and follows the story of a bug who learns to have fun and focus on that instead of his worries. The companion book, Helping Young Worriers Beat the WorryBug has numerous considerations, teaching points, and practical activities and techniques for parents to use with their kids.
- Scardies Away! by Stacie Fiorile and Barry McDonagh and illustrated by Denis Alonso is about a boy who learns how to deal with anxiety about surfing and roller coasters from his friend. He teaches him that anxiety is okay to feel sometimes. Embrace it with humor and then use the magic finger countdown to gather them all up, blow them out, and say good-bye. The authors provide education on why the principles are effective.
- Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook and illustrated by Anita Dufalla is about a girl who worries about everything. She eventually learns to put all her worries in a hat so the hat can hold it for her instead of her worrying about it. Children can try this same technique. At the end of the book, Julia Cook provided a parents guide with several points and considerations.
- What does it mean to be present? by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler discusses the importance of living in the moment instead of being carried away. Mindfulness is such an important aspect of many therapy theories and can be an important coping strategy when dealing with anxiety, depression, or anger. This books breaks it down in a kid friendly way. Because it is a bit of a tricky concept, though, this is written for children who are a little older (I would say roughly age 7 and up).
- It’s Time for School, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and illustrated by Cyd Moore is hilarious book and a great example of playing the what-if game. The only thing I would change is asking children to answer the what-ifs so they can find the solutions themselves. This book is written for school aged children.
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak is a cute story about a raccoon that is anxious about going to school and leaving his mom. It’s a great book for separation anxiety. Parents can read this story and then come up with their own ritual to help their child feel better about going to school. For example, they can find a special comfort object for children to take to school and then return back to their caregiver once school is over to feel calmed in knowing they’re tied to home and mom (or caregiver) will always be there when they get back. This book is a sweet story and can be read to young children.
- The Invisible String by Patrice Karst and illustrated by Geoff Stevenson is another classic separation anxiety book. The idea is that we are all tied with an invisible string and won’t be truly alone.
- The Berenstain Bears in the Dark by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a great book about using your imagination for good instead of using it to become anxious. Who doesn’t love the Berenstain bears?! It’s written for school-aged children and up.
- I Am (Not) Scared by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant is a humorous, cute book about two animal friends that decide to think of everything that’s worse than their fear of roller coasters. This perspective taking helps them and in the end they embrace their fears (also another important skills) and have a lot of fun on the ride. This book is simple and can easily be read to young children.
Anxiety Books for Kids: The Workbooks
- What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebener and illustrated by Bonnie Matthews is a great workbook for children who are trying to deal with feelings of anxiety. It provides education about anxiety and gives several coping skills that kids can use. While you can probably adapt some skills for younger children, it is recommended for children ages 8 and up.
- Hot Stuff to Help Kids Worry Less by Jerry and Jack Wilde is another one of my favorite workbooks for kids. This book also provides education and many coping skills to deal with anxiety. The authors write it in a humorous and approachable way. Written for kids approximately 8 and up.
- The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook for Kids by Lawrence Shapiro is a book I have not personally read, but I have heard great things about it.
Anxiety Books for Kids: The Parents’ Resources
- Freeing Your Child from Anxiety by Tamar Chansky is a wonderful parents guide that I highly recommend. It offers education about what different anxiety disorders are, treatment plans that can be tried at home, and specific tips for different types of anxiety. Although I have not read her other book, Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking, I have heard it is wonderful as well.
- As I mentioned above, a companion book Helping Young Worriers Beat the WorryBug by John Irvine and illustrated by Andi Green has numerous considerations, teaching points, and practical activities and techniques for parents to use with their kids.
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