I have two kids who had separation anxiety at preschool drop off and that can be a developmental thing that kids grow out of. But I’ve also had a child experience anxiety and depression that coincided with long term concussion.
I have found that CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to be a really great tool for sound mental health for my children. As an Asian American, we are conditioned to view mental health issues as a “weakness” to be ashamed of, rather than a disease which is actually is. The good news is that it is treatable.
I also hypothesize based on a sample size of my own three children that being emotionally empathetic and sensitive seems to coincide with a higher degree of anxiety. I have one child that doesn’t notice what is going on as much, especially when it comes to peer social drama. It doesn’t surprise me that this kid experiences a low level of general anxiety.
On the other hand, I have a child who was, as described by the kindergarten teacher, “would come into the room, stand at the periphery and take in the emotional temperature of the room. Then the child would zero in on any conflict and then go there to try to fix it.” This child, I have noticed, has grown up to be extremely empathetic but also suffers from anxiety. So perhaps anxiety is a also gift that, when managed, can give back.
How about you? Do you have anxious kids as well? What has helped? Thanks for sharing!
Picture Books About Anxiety for Kids Who Worry
Anxious Charlie to the Rescue by Terry Milne
Charlie the Dauschaund liked his routines; they made him feel safe and in control. He worried that something bad would happen if he deviated from them. When he had to skip his routines to help a friend stuck in a pipe, he realized that nothing bad happened after all. It made him realize that the possibilities for consequences can be both good and bad. I’ll add this book to my OCD Characters in Children’s and Young Adult Books as this feels like a picture book that addresses this mental health disease. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Starting school makes most kids nervous and Kevin Henkes captures this anxiety in a way that kids can relate to. From my blog post, Physical and Developmental Challenge Books for Kids [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Rabbit and the Motorbike by Kate Hoefler, illustrated by Sarah Jacoby
Rabbit never left his quiet wheat field, but his good friend Dog traveled the country on his motorbike. Dog’s daily stories gave Rabbit a vicarious thrill of traveling alongside Dog. When Dog passed away, he left Rabbit the motorbike. One day, Rabbit got over his fear and finally took the motorbike out for a spin. It was a glorious day of adventure that made Rabbit feel like Dog was right there with him again. In this book, fear is a habit that stops Rabbit from adventures. It takes a tragedy to break this habit, but this book can be used for grief and anxiety to show that there’s always a rainbow with a dark cloud. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Mama Don’t Go by Rosemary Wells
Two of my kids had separation anxiety of the type that involves tears at preschool drop-offs. For kindergarten, her teacher and I plotted for her first week of school to be tear-free. Rosemary Wells understands the small dramas parent and child experience in everyday life and brings them to life with her Hilltop School classroom! Yoko is worried her mom won’t come back but her new friend Timothy assures her that parents “just keep coming back.” Her book series is balm for the anxious! From my guest post at Bon Bon Break, 5 Back to School Picture Books for the Anxious Child [picture book, ages 3 and up)
Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
One bad day, Ruby discovers a worry that grows and grows until it takes over her life. It’s a burden until she finds a way to get rid of the worry. It turns out that she’s not the only kid with a worry and that talking helps to make the worry disappear. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or mental health professional, the message of this picture book is on point: talking about feelings helps to conquer worries. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Owl Babies by Martin Wadell
Separation anxiety was never articulated in a more compelling way as three owlets fret about their missing mother until she returns to a joyous celebration. From my blog post, Baltimore the Snowy Owl & Owl Books for Kids [picture book, ages 3 and up]
I am a Thief! by Abigail Rayner, illustrated by Molly Ruttan
When Eliza Jane Murphy can not avoid temptation and steals a sparkling stone from school, she is overcome with guilt. She’s a thief. When she talks to her family about stealing, she finds that they are all guilty. But are the acts of theft her family committed as serious as her own? And how can she make things right again? Use this book to help kids take control of their fears to do the right thing. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, illustrated by Ruth Harper
Sometimes a routine or comforting thought can help anxiety. School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to comfort him any time he feels scared. From my blog post, Let’s Keep Them Young Forever [picture book, ages 3 and up]
What Do You Do With A Problem? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
When a problem shows up, it can cause a lot of anxiety and worry which makes the problem seem bigger. Ignoring it doesn’t work either. But while confronting a problem is scary, it is also an opportunity to be brave. And that’s the secret of problems. There is always something good hidden in them. A wonderfully philosophical and comforting approach to problems and problem-solving! [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is ready to jump off the diving board for the first time!… Right after he does some stretches. And thinks about what kind of jump to do. Actually, everyone else can go first… With the help of his supportive dad, Jabari figures out how to deal with his fear and tackle a new challenge. From my blog post, Ten Picture Books That Spark Courage [ages 2 and up]
It’s Okay To Make Mistakes by Todd Parr
Todd Parr’s message of that mistakes can be a gift is CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) in action. His message of embracing mistakes, feeling unsure, and doing things differently is an empowering message to kids and grown-ups alike! [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Wilma Jean and the Worry Machine by Julia Cook, illustrated by Anita DuFalla
Wilma Jean has an anxiety disorder that becomes debilitating. Her teacher helps her with tools to address her anxieties. The first step is to write all of her worries down, and then to categorize them based on what she can and can not control. I really like this book because it provides tools for parents and teachers to help kids with anxieties. This is a good example of the CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) approach. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
p.s. And one more … a middle grade book.
Quintessence by Jess Redman
Review from Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Alma and her family have moved to Four Points for her parents’ work as real estate lawyers. She has always struggled to make friends and feel comfortable at school, but the move has upended her so much that she has started to have increasingly common panic attacks. After the first one, she has hidden them from her parents, who are always trying to be helpful and encourage her to get out and try new things. When she gets a mysterious note, she discovers an Astronomy Club at school attended by only Shirin and Hugo, and also gets a “quintescope” from the oddly mystical Five Points Shop and the Shopkeeper, who gives her the mission “Find the Elements. Grow the Light. Save the Starling.” Shirin and Hugo help her figure out how to go about doing this, and help her a little in dealing with school. Dustin, a dysfunctional but somewhat misunderstood bully, doesn’t at first but is somewhat useful in the end. Will Alma be able to get the elements gathered in time to save the Starling, and will she also be able to handle middle school and manage her anxiety?” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
p.s. Here’s a middle grade book with an anxiety theme:
A Long Way From Home by Laura Schaefer
Review from Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Many of my students will see themselves in Abby since everyone seems to be anxious about everything these days. I absolutely loved Nora’s explanation of anxiety– it’s something that’s part of the human package, like opposable thumbs. We all have to deal with it from time to time. Abby does grow during the book; her life doesn’t become perfect, but she gains some perspective, and that is such a crucial realization for middle-grade readers. Very well done. I was sucked right into Adam and Bix’s story and was completely happy to suspend any disbelief.” [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
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Book Lists for Difficult Situations
These book lists are for those difficult situations that come up when you want to talk to kids about something but don’t know where to start:
- Birds and Bees Talk
- Best Friend Moves Away
- Afraid of the Dark
- Inappropriate Touch
- Living in Alcoholic Home
- Domestic Violence
- Loss of Pet
- Incarcerated Parents
- Grief and Loss
Are you looking for something different? I indexed and cross referenced my 300+ book lists: List of Lists: All My Book Lists.
Understanding Poverty: A Book List for Ages 4-11
11 Chapter Books About Grief and Loss
Birds and the Bees Talk Books for Kids
10 Books Featuring Kids with Incarcerated Parents
Best Friend Moves Away Picture Books
Top 10: Afraid of the Dark Picture Books
Keeping Kids Safe from Inappropriate Touch
Living in an Alcoholic Home Books for Kids
Domestic Violence Awareness Books for Kids
Top 10: Best Books for Kids that Deal with Bullies
Top 10: Multicultural Picture Books on Bullying
Top 10: Coping with Loss of Pets Books for Kids
Books About Cancer for Kids and Teens
Homelessness in Children’s Books
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
1 thought on “Picture Books About Anxiety for Kids Who Worry”
Excellent suggestions! That took some work compiling. The Weird series is my favorite bullying series. And I love all Julia Cook’s books — havent review any for a while. There are some books you mentioned I need to check out — need to bookmark your post.