Picture Books for Finding Courage

Picture Books for Finding Courage & 3 Book GIVEAWAY

I’m so happy to welcome my guest author today, Laura Gehl, who has a Top 10: Picture Books for Finding Courage. Her list is not limited to Scared of the Dark picture books, but also includes both nonfiction and hilarious fiction books of overcoming fear. She’s also giving away 3 copies of her latest Peep and Egg book, Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick or Treating, just in time for Halloween. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

How about you? What books about childhood fears are you enjoying with your kids? I just read a remarkable one by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, about his fear of the dark and how he overcame that in order to explore the darkness of space: The Darkest Dark.


I was a pretty fearful kid, with many of the typical childhood worries.  I was scared of robbers breaking into my house.  I was scared of something terrible happening to my parents.  I was scared of not fitting in at school.

And then I became a mom, and between my four kids, we had pretty much EVERY fear covered: fear of the dark, fear of needles, fear of heights, fear of worms (not proboscis worms, which can grow to more than 150 feet and are legitimately creepy…just regular earthworms).

But the fears didn’t always come out and introduce themselves.  It wasn’t “Mom, I’m scared of the dark” or “Mom, I’m scared of worms.”  Instead, I heard an endless stream of “I’m not”s.

“I’m not going to bed.”

“I’m not going to the doctor.”

“I’m not going to school.”

And on and on and on….

Who knew that the reason for “I’m not getting out of the car” was actually that my preschool son didn’t want to walk on the worm-covered pavement? Who knew that “I’m not going shopping” was because my older son found the upper floor of the mall, with its clear glass walls, terrifying?  Who knew that “I’m not going to bed” was more about the scary dark and less about wanting to stay up late and play games?

Not me.  I begged and cajoled and grumped and grouched.

And then I started to realize how many “I’m not”s were actually about fear.

That’s where Peep and Egg come in.

Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick or Treating, the newest book in this series created with Joyce Wan, focuses on a common childhood fear: Halloween.  For some kids, Halloween is a super fun day of dress-up and candy.  But plenty of other kids truly dread Halloween, when monsters, ghosts, and witches lurk behind every corner.

Books like Peep and Egg: I’m not Hatching (in which Egg is afraid of new experiences) and Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick or Treating can help kids find the courage to overcome their fears, and can open up important conversations between adults and children about fears and how to deal with them.

I found it nearly impossible to choose just ten great books about finding courage and overcoming fears.  There are so many other worthy books that I couldn’t include…both classics like Ira Sleeps Over, and newer titles like Scaredy Squirrel.  I would love to hear your favorites too!

Picture Books for Finding Courage from Laura Gehl

1. The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Fear of the dark is one of the most classic, universal fears.  But this beautiful book makes the dark into a character, in a story that is both suspenseful and comforting. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

2. My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Coming to a new country is filled with different, scary experiences. Kids will relate to Yoon’s struggle to fit in at her new school, and to find the courage to be herself. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

3. Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Scott Magoon

Like My Name is Yoon, Mostly Monsterly is a book for helping kids find the courage to follow their own paths.  Bernadette may not be like all the other monsters, but she manages to stay true to herself and still find acceptance.  This book is also a good introduction to non-scary monsters for kiddos who worry about what might be hiding in closets or under beds. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

4. The Fun Book of Scary Stuff by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Hyewon Yum

A boy discusses fears with his two dogs.  Between a little logic and a lot of humor, this book will have kids examining…and overcoming…their own fears. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

5. Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafel López.

Based on the true story of a brave girl in Cuba who didn’t believe only boys should play drums, this poetic book will inspire and enchant. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

6. The Doghouse by Jan Thomas

For the toddler and preschool crowd, this tale of fear and friendship is funny and fabulous. [picture book, ages 1 and up]

7. Stormy Night by Salina Yoon

Thunderstorms are another classic fear.  But this story shows how love can give families the courage to handle storms…and anything else that comes their way. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

8. Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

Only Small, the littlest in the family, is brave enough to venture outside to confront the enormous black dog. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

9. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls.

A boy born in Ghana with a deformed leg not only finds the courage to overcome stigma and physical obstacles in order to attend school and play soccer, he also fights for equal rights for others. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

10. The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Andrew Joyner

A bump in the night, an unexplained creak…sounds can be scary!  But this funny rhyming story will reassure kids that most noises are not as scary as they seem. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

3 Book Giveaway of Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick or Treating: 3 Winners!

Please enter the Rafflecopter below to enter. U.S.A. only due to the high cost of shipping (but you don’t have to reside in the U.S.A. if you can provide a mailing address in the U.S.A.).

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Laura Gehl

Laura Gehl is the author of One Big Pair of Underwear, a Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Title, International Literacy Association Honor Book, and Booklist Books for Youth Editors’ Choice; Hare and Tortoise Race Across Israel and And Then Another Sheep Turned Up (both PJ library selections); and the Peep and Egg series. A former science and reading teacher, she also writes about science for children and adults.  Laura lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and four children.  Visit her online at www.lauragehl.com.

 To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

Picture Books for Finding Courage

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Emmanuel’s Dream is one of my very favorite picture books, lyrical and inspiring.

    Great selection of books, Mia!

    And thank you for reminding me about Black Dog. Our library doesn’t have it, and I forgot to request it in their suggest a title program. Will remedy that pronto!

  2. Kathy

    My daughter was very afraid of the first day of kindergarten (and reading lots of books about it helped) – but now she loves it! Thanks for the great book suggestions!

  3. PEEP and EGG sounds delightful. Also love Emanuel’s Dream!
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s StoryMy Profile

  4. All of these books sound great for my kids! My son was terrified of dying for a while as a toddler/preschooler after his last two great-grandfathers died within weeks of one another. Thankfully he is doing better with that now.

    My 4yo is scared of being left with babysitters she doesn’t know very well.
    maryanne recently posted…Sewing Tutorial: How to Make a Weighted Blanket (Sensory Friendly)My Profile

  5. I think I have to find THE TERRIBLE PLOP just because of the name. 😉 The cover of Black Dog really grabbed me too!
    Erik-TKRB recently posted…Perfect Picture Book Friday! Mervin the Sloth is About to do the Best Thing in the World by Colleen AF Venable AND Giveaway Winner!!!My Profile

  6. Sarah

    Such a great collection of books. My son has a huge fear of separation, so we spend a lot of time reading books to reassure him when one of us has to be out of town.

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