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Anxiety: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about anxiety?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to anxiety. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about anxiety.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about anxiety, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Kissing Hand to popular sellers like Little Owl Lost to some of our favorite hidden gems like Ruby Finds a Worry.

We hope this list of kids books about anxiety can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

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Ruby Finds a Worry
Written & illustrated by Tom Percival
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
From the creator of Perfectly Norman comes a sensitive and reassuring story about what to do when a worry won't leave you alone. Meet Ruby--a happy, curious, imaginative girl. But one day, she finds something unexpected: a Worry. It's not such a big Worry, at first. But every day, it grows a little bigger . . . And a little bigger . . . Until eventually, the Worry is ENORMOUS and is all she can think about. But when Ruby befriends a young boy, she discovers that everyone has worries, and not only that, there's a great way to get rid of them too . . . This perceptive and poignant story is the perfect springboard for talking to children about emotional intelligence and sharing hidden anxieties.
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The Kissing Hand
Written by Audrey Penn & illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him.
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Hurry Up!: A Book About Slowing Down
Written by Kate Dopirak & illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8
A busy boy and his dog learn to slow down and enjoy life together in this lyrical, rhyming picture book perfect for hurried families everywhere. For one busy boy, life is all hurry up, hurry down, hurry round and round and round! That is until he takes a big breath...and a big break...and slows down to see all the wonderful things in the world around him. From celebrated picture book creators Kate Dopirak and Christopher Silas Neal, this playful yet powerful picture book reminds us to be present, to be mindful, and to appreciate each moment.
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Daddy Long Legs
Written by Nadine Brun-Cosme & illustrated by Aurélie Guillerey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Daddy drives Matthew to kindergarten in his old green car. ?See you this afternoon, ? says Daddy, as he kisses him goodbye. But Matthew stops him from leaving and asks, ?What if, this afternoon, the old green car doesn't start Thus begins a series of what-ifs that Matthew poses in response to every one of Daddy's ideas about how he will manage to return and fetch him, each one more fantastic than the last: he'll come by tractor, by teddy bear, by the wings of birds, by a tiny boat, even by dragon! Finally, Daddy says he'll use his own two long legs, the ultimate reassurance that he'll come back for Matthew, no matter what! Author Nadine Brun-Cosme's endearing picture book offers warm comfort to young children that their parent can always be counted on. With gentle and imaginative humor, the father's increasingly wilder ideas about how he will make his way to his son prove the steady and unwavering certainty of a parent's commitment to a child. The whimsical artwork by Aurélie Guillerey plays lightly with the father's flights of fancy, keeping the tone of the book just right for a storytime read-aloud. Filled with the love between the boy and his father, this is a perfect book choice to address separation issues common to kindergartners and preschoolers who have difficulty saying goodbye to their parents.
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You've Got Dragons
Written by Kathryn Cave & illustrated by Nick Maland
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10
Worries, fears, and anxieties are all dragons that sneak up on most of us at one time or another. Lots of people get dragons. Even really really good people get them. And sometimes they are hard to get rid of. So what can a young boy with a bad case of the dragons do? He can pretend they are not there, or that they are really quite harmless. Hugs from his mom help. Looking his dragon straight in the eye at least once every day helps even more. But most reassuring of all is the reminder that dragons don’t stay forever. Kathryn Cave’s lighthearted writing style and illustrator Nick Maland’s appealing pen-and-ink drawings exaggerate the humor of the text without minimizing the seriousness of the underlying themes. It is the perfect read-aloud story for young children whose fears can sometimes get the better of them.
Butterflies on the First Day of School book
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Your First Day of Circus School book
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Don't Think About Purple Elephants book
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Sleepytime Rhymes: Fox book
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  • Butterflies on the First Day of School - Rosie’s excited to start kindergarten—she’s had her backpack ready for weeks. But suddenly, the night before the big day, her tummy hurts. Rosie’s mom reassures her that it’s just butterflies in her belly. Much to Rosie’s surprise, when she greets a new friend, a butterfly flies out of her mouth! Soon, Rosie frees all her butterflies . . . and helps another shy student release hers, too.

  • Your First Day of Circus School - A clever, comical re-imagining of the classic “first day of school” story, with a circus twist! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages! It’s the most amazing day on earth: the first day of school! It can be a daunting prospect, but don’t worry - your big brother can show you the ropes. Join a nervous boy and his enthusiastic older brother as they navigate the highs and lows of a first day at school . . . except this school is a big top, and the teacher is named Miss Stupendous, and the cafeteria can be a zoo, literally! It turns out, school isn’t so scary when you can let off steam during recess (on a steam train) and walk on stilts to all of your classes. With a bit of help from family and some new friends, you’ll make it to the top of the class in no time! This charming take on school readiness will delight new school-goers and take a bit of the fear out of those first-day jitters.

  • Don't Think About Purple Elephants - Sometimes Sophie worries - especially at night when everything is calm and quiet. Her family all try to help, but somehow they just make it worse. Until her mother thinks of a new approach…that just might involve an elephant or two! But wait, don’t think about purple elephants, whatever you do! Whimsical and humorous, this little girl’s story of finding a way to ease her worry resonates with children and parents everywhere. Don’t Think About Purple Elephants is an excellent resource for social and emotional learning for parents and teachers.

  • Sleepytime Rhymes: Fox - Fox’s story provides a resource for both parent and child when coping with family transitions. By encouraging children to express their feelings, they are able to find comfort through the challenges of change.

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The Invisible String
Written by Patrice Karst & illustrated by Geoff Stevenson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Picture book for children 4-8 years of age. A simple story that reminds children they are never truly alone. People who love each other are connected by an invisible string made of love.
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Do Not Go in There
Written by Ariel Horn & illustrated by Izzy Burton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
**_Do Not Go in There!_ is an encouraging picture book from debut author Ariel Horn and illustrator Izzy Burton that highlights the power of imagination while touching on themes of anxiety, curiosity, and bravery.** Monsters Morton and Bogart are best friends. But they don't always see eye to eye. So when they encounter a closed door, anxious Bogart wants to _keep_ it closed, because there must be something really bad on the other side. But Morton thinks it'll be something amazing! Which is it? Through bright, expressive illustrations, readers learn that, while not knowing can be frightening, being brave can lead to new discoveries. And even though your imagination can make it easy to worry, it can also make life better, less scary, and more fun. **An Imprint Book**
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Mae's First Day of School
Written & illustrated by Kate Berube
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
The first day of school can be scary for everyone--not just the students. As Mae gets ready for her very first day, she reflects on all the things she's afraid of. What if the other kids don't like her? What if she can't learn to read? What if she misses her mom? On the way to school, she decides that instead of facing all the unknowns, it would be much easier to climb up into her favorite tree and wait there until school is over. As other kids pass by, they, too, share their own fears with Mae, and she learns that everyone gets nervous about trying new things, even her teacher! Together, Mae and her new friends decide to face the day and celebrate new beginnings, hand in hand.
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Playing Possum
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
**Meeting strangers makes shy possum Alfred anxious, and he plays dead. So he has trouble making friends—until Sophia the armadillo reveals that when she gets anxious, she rolls up in a ball. A witty friendship tale inspired by animal behavior.** In this winsome tale, Alfred, who plays dead, and Sophia, who rolls up in a ball, stand in for shy or anxious humans whose discomfort keeps them from fitting in. Jennifer Black Reinhardt has cast animals with defense mechanisms as characters to tell an imaginative, endearing story about learning to make friends by mastering fear and shyness. Alfred and Sofia open up to each other and go on to help other creatures who have social difficulties by practicing patience, forgiveness, and friendship—tools for overcoming the barriers that keep us from connecting with others. An author’s note lists real animals and their defensive behaviors.
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Harriet's Monster Diary
Written by Raun Melmed and S.E. Abramson & illustrated by Arief
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-11
Meet Harriet, a lovable monster who is just sick at the thought of giving a report in front of her class! Her heart pounds, her chest gets tight, and her stomach twists in painful knots. She can't even bear to get started on it! What is she going to do? In the same humorous spirit of Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes Harriet's Monster Diary: Awful Anxiety (But I Squish It, Big Time). Using the “furmometer” and ST4 techniques developed by Dr. Raun Melmed of the Melmed Center in Arizona, Harriet's Monster Diary teaches kids how to monitor how they feel and respond to stressful situations. Harriet’s hilarious doodles and diary entries chronicle her delightful adventures, misadventures, and eventual triumph in a funny, relatable way. It’s the one book that stressed kids will want to calm down to read! Harriet's Monster Diary also includes a resource section to help parents and teachers implement Dr. Melmed’s methods, plus ST4 reminders that kids can remove, color, and place around the house.
My Big Bad Monster book
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Little Owl Lost book
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Anxious Charlie to the Rescue book
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Lena's Shoes Are Nervous book
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  • My Big Bad Monster - Have you ever met your monster of self-doubt? This girl has. When she’s had enough of his negativity, she discovers that with a little help from new friends and a lot of boisterous music, he’ll disappear for good! This sweet picturebook with energetic art by A. N. Kang will strike a chord in readers both big and small.

  • Little Owl Lost - Uh-oh! Little Owl has fallen from his nest and landed with a whump on the ground. Now he is lost, and his mommy is nowhere to be seen! With the earnest help of his new friend Squirrel, Little Owl goes in search of animals that fit his description of Mommy Owl. But while some are big (like a bear) or have pointy ears (like a bunny) or prominent eyes (like a frog), none of them have all the features that make up his mommy. Where could she be? A cast of adorable forest critters in neon-bright hues will engage little readers right up to the story’s comforting, gently wry conclusion.

  • Anxious Charlie to the Rescue - A friend in need causes an anxious pup to confront his fear of change in this thoughtful and encouraging tale. Charlie follows the same routine every day: he hops out of bed in the morning, walks the same route to the market, and lines up his stuffed animals just so in the evening. If anything is slightly different, Charlie worries that something bad might happen. But when friends call one morning asking for Charlie’s help, he forgets to follow his usual routine. Will something bad happen, as Charlie fears? Or will he learn that change can be good? In this touching story by Terry Milne, readers will fall in love with the nervous little dog named Charlie and his ability to overcome his fear of change.

  • Lena's Shoes Are Nervous - Today is a big day! Today, Lena starts kindergarten. She is very excited. But there’s just one problem… Lena’s shoes are nervous. Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave?

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Roar and Sparkles Go to School
Written by Sarah Beth Durst
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Roar is worried about his first day at school. He's worried that he'll have to do really hard things, like molt his scales and fly over a volcano. His big sister Sparkles reassures him, but Roar still worries. The first day of school arrives and Roar is pleasantly surprised! Instead of having to breathe fire, he gets to kick fireballs in gym class. He also gets to make popsicle-stick caves in art and to listen to stores about Johnny Apple-dragon and Cinder-dragonella during circle time. And when he's asked to draw something he loves before the day is over, he figures out just how to thank Sparkles for her sisterly support. Roar and Sparkles is a sweet story about the anxieties children may feel about attending school for the first time, as well as a comforting tale about the bond between siblings. Sarah Beth Durst's imaginative and playful script is enhanced by Ben Whitehouse's modern and fresh illustrations to create a book that's sure to squelch first-day-of-school worries for children.
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Calm with the Very Hungry Caterpillar
Written & illustrated by Eric Carle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
This beautiful little gift book featuring The Very Hungry Caterpillar provides a simple, easy-to-follow journey to relaxation, perfect for children and adults. Just stop and breathe . . . How do you feel? Join The Very Hungry Caterpillar for a soothing story featuring classic art from the World of Eric Carle. With simple coping mechanisms and beautiful illustrations, this book is an excellent reminder to kids and adults alike to take a moment, breathe deep, and smile!
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A Whale of a Mistake
Written by Ioana Hobai
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
When you make a mistake―a big mistake, a HUGE mistake―it can weigh you down or even swallow you whole! As one kid finds herself swept away by her whale of a mistake, she takes readers along on a journey of emotions. When the girl pauses to stare at the night sky, she realizes something important: there are as many mistakes in the world as stars in the sky, and maybe she can handle it after all. As the seemingly huge whale begins to shrink, the girl embraces her mistake and finds her way back to solid ground. Through clever wordplay and atmospheric art, this fantastical story shows that with a little time, perspective, and reflection, you can learn and move on from mistakes, no matter the size.
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Early Sunday Morning
Written by Denene Millner & illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
In this heartwarming story of love and family, a community comes together to help a young girl find the courage to lift her mighty voice. Sundays are June’s favorite days because she gets to spend it with Mommy, Daddy, and her brother, Troy. Next Sunday is more special than most, because she will be leading the youth choir in front of her entire church. June loves to sing. She sings loud, silly songs with Daddy, she sings to herself in front of the bedroom mirror, but performing in front of the entire congregation is another thing altogether. As her special moment approaches, June leans on the support of her whole community to conquer her fear of singing in front of the congregation.
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Bad Kitty Takes the Test
Written & illustrated by Nick Bruel
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
Because of a recent string of embarrassing behavior, Kitty's cat license has been revoked and she must take a test to get it back so she can still be a cat.
The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee book
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The Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee book
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Pilar's Worries book
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Spotlight on Coding Club! book
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  • The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee - India Wimple can spell. Brilliantly. Every Friday night, she and her family watch the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee on TV. When the Wimples suggest she enter the next bee, India finds the idea disconcerting. She’s sure she’s not good enough—but her family won’t accept that and encourages her to sign up. There are plenty of obstacles to reaching the finals, and the whole thing seems rather calamitous to India. But with hope, hard work, and a little bit of heart, something splendiferous might be on the horizon…

  • The Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee - “India Wimple can spell with the best of them. How else would she have won the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee and garnered an invitation to the Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee? India couldn’t be more thrilled to travel to London along with the rest of the Wimples. And at first, it seems like a dream come true; she reunites with her spelling bee friends, and they even get to meet the Queen! But there is skulduggery afoot, with some rather mysterious goings-on going on and a series of accidents that seem to be not-so-accidental after all. India has her suspicions about who is behind the duplicitous demonstrations. But can she solve the mystery in time to save the competition?”

  • Pilar's Worries - Pilar loves to dance. She pliés while brushing her teeth. She leaps when hurrying to ballet class. But when tryouts for her favorite ballet are held, Pilar is anxious. Auditioning makes her whole body feel scared. But by using some of the coping techniques she’s learned and focusing on her love for ballet, she is able to persevere. This gentle story is a great tool for children dealing with anxiety.

  • Spotlight on Coding Club! - Perfect for fans of The Babysitters Club and anyone interested in computer science, this series is published in partnership with the organization Girls Who Code! It’s almost time for the talent show at school, and Erin couldn’t be more excited. It’s her time to take center stage! Plus, she and her friends from coding club are putting together an awesome coding program for the show. But Erin has a big secret: she has anxiety. And when things start piling up at home and school, she starts having trouble handling everything. Her friends from coding club have always been there for her, but will they be as understanding when the going gets tough? Sometimes in coding—like in friendship—things don’t go exactly as planned, but the outcome can be even better than you’d imagined.

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Why Worry?
Written by Eric A. Kimmel & illustrated by Aiko Ikegami
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Told through soft, gorgeous color illustrations, Why Worry is a gentle story of two friends swept into the unpredictable wilderness and how, despite feeling anxiety and worries, they find peace and calmness together. Once upon a time there were two good friends, Cricket and Grasshopper. Cricket always worried. Grasshopper never did. Cricket and Grasshopper go on a high-flying, wild adventure and encounter a large crow, a hungry fish, powerful winds, and more. But while Grasshopper is having the time of her life, Cricket can't help but worry if they'll be safe, where they're going, and how they'll return home. Though the two have differing perspectives, Grasshopper and Cricket find support in each other through acceptance and patience. Originally published in 1979, Why Worry? is a soothing tale that teaches understanding and empathy of people who experience anxiety, and how to support and alleviate those worries.
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I Am Peace
Written by Susan Verde & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A child starts to get carried away with worry and rushing thoughts before taking a breath, steadying, observing thoughts, feeling kindness, feeling thankful, and experiencing the world.
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Eight Times Up
Written & illustrated by John Corr
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Ever since his mom left, Riley has been a mess. He feels nervous all the time. His heart pounds, his neck is tight, and he can’t seem to turn off his brain. His dad signs him up for aikido, hoping it will help. In the dojo, Riley meets boys who are much rougher than he is and a girl who is tougher than all the rest of them put together. For Wafaa, aikido is not her first choice. She was disqualified from competing in judo for wearing a hijab. From the first time she steps on the mat, it’s clear she is far more skilled than anyone expected. Through the teachings of their sensei, Riley and his classmates come to understand that aikido is not about winning or losing or about being perfect. Sensei shows them how to tap into their inner strength and find their place in the universe.
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Bremner & the Party
Written & illustrated by Ripley Publishing
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Brand new picture books from Ripley’s feature fun and engaging stories around two favorite Ripley’s Aquarium mascots—Sharkee the sand tiger shark and Bremner the pufferfish. Filled with expressive illustrations, silly situations, and lovable characters, kids and parents alike will be enchanted by each of these charming “tails”! Bremner the pufferfish is going to a party. Tonight. Gulp! And he’s nervous. And he knows what happens when he gets nervous. He puffs up. And he definitely doesn’t want to puff up. Children and parents alike will laugh their way through Bremner’s nervous dialogue as he goes off the deep end before joining the party. Will Bremner puff up and ruin the celebration? There’s only one way to find out!
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Aleca Zamm Is a Wonder
Written by Ginger Rue
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
Meet the wonder-full Aleca Zamm, an ordinary ten-year-old with an extraordinary ability: she can stop time! Aleca Zamm has finally reached double digits and she still doesn’t have a “thing”—a special talent or ability that will make her stand out. Her best friend, Maria, has a thing (swim team); her sister, Dylan, has a thing (singing); and even her former BFF Madison has a thing (soccer). But Aleca? No. Thing. Until the day of her tenth birthday when Aleca discovers she can stop time just by saying her name. Suddenly, Aleca has a thing…and life is about to get a lot more interesting! It turns out that being a Wonder (as her eccentric Aunt Zephyr, who is also a Wonder, calls it) comes with a few caveats, and that stopping time doesn’t go undetected by other Wonders or those who may be searching for them. With her new mentor Aunt Zephyr by her side, Aleca discovers that being special comes with special challenges she never expected.
Captain Starfish book
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When I Feel Worried book
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Much Too Much Birthday book
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  • Captain Starfish - Alfie’s anxiety often keeps him from engaging in fun activities, but he learns a valuable lesson at the aquarium when a tiny clownfish swims up to him for a quick hello and then retreats, showing Alfie there is a happy medium between hiding away and being a star.

  • When I Feel Worried - Everybody worries. Children worry too—in new or confusing situations or when someone is angry with them. This new addition to the acclaimed The Way I Feel Series uses reassuring words and illustrations to address a child’s anxieties and shows ways to feel better. Cornelia Spelman and Kathy Parkinson team up once again to provide a comforting and empowering book that’s helpful to all.

  • Much Too Much Birthday - Maud the koala can’t wait for her birthday party–until everything starts to feel way too overwhelming. Maud is having a birthday party in her backyard, and she’s invited her friends–all fifty-six of them–to celebrate with her. She’s not worried, though. After all, you can never have too much birthday! But when the guests arrive and the party gets packed, she isn’t so sure. What will happen if Maud can’t bear her own birthday?

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