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7 Kids Books About Facing Fears & Animals

Updated Jan. 19, 2019

Fear is one of those things that is common to the human experience and plagues both children and adults alike. When you are scared of something, regardless of your age, reason and logic can give way to an irrational fear that it seems impossible to conquer. In these moments, we crave someone who understands, empathizes and yet is simultaneously above this fear and can also provide comfort and reassurance. Parents and other mentors can help fill this role for children, and stories can help. They provide a framework for talking about fears (whether a specific fear the child shares with a book character or fears in general) and how to conquer them in a way that is less personal and thus more accessible. Then when situations arise in everyday life, parents and children have a common point they can start from—"Remember what Orion did when he was scared of the dark?"—and work from there. Whether you're tackling anxieties about the dark, starting school, leaving home, getting a haircut, being alone, stage fright or anything else, these books can help bridge the gap and start to quell those fears—seriously, some of our very favorites on this list.

What's Following Us? book
#1
What's Following Us?
Written by Brandy Cooke and illustrated by John Reasoner, Charles Reasoner
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Something scary and strange is following Scaredy Snake and his pals through the jungle. What could it be? As the "SWISH"-ing and "SWOOSH"-ing draws closer, Scaredy and his animal friends realize that what's been chasing them may not be as scary as they originally feared.

I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! book
#2
I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!
Written by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Gus Gordon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

While showing her timid gal pals the wonders of the woods, brave Nadine the cow discovers that she is not entirely fearless.

So Big! book
#3
So Big!
Written and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A simple, clever text paired with utterly adorable animal characters makes school-day jitters seem not so big after all! Bear is so big, and he's ready to start school! But even if you're SO BIG, you might feel a little nervous at times. Can Bear brave his first day and find a way to make it feel just right? A clever and charming story, So Big! will help young readers through all the important first steps in life. Acclaim for Dad's First Day Bank Street Best Children's Books of 2016--outstanding merit title Acclaim for Moo! An ALA Notable book A BCCB Blue Ribbon selection

Ninita's Big World book
#4
Ninita's Big World
Written by Sarah Glenn Marsh and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"The heart-tugging true story of how YouTube star Ninita—a deaf, orphaned pygmy marmoset (the smallest type of monkey)—found family, friendship, and a forever home! Illustrated in full color. Ninita is the only known deaf pygmy marmoset in the world, but that doesn't stop her from making friends and chasing her next adventure! Abandoned by her parents and rescued by the RSCF, this tiny, curious monkey loves exploring her habitat. And when she meets Mr. Big—another pygmy marmoset—she has finally found a friend who likes to eat, climb, and play as much as she does. A YouTube celebrity, Ninita's videos have been viewed nearly 2 million times! "

Ernestine's Milky Way book
#5
Ernestine's Milky Way
Written and illustrated by Kerry Madden
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

In Maggie Valley, North Carolina, in the 1940s, Ernestine, who is five years old and a big girl, carries fresh milk to needy neighbors through thickets, down paths, and over a barbed-wire fence, despite her fears.

Fish Are Not Afraid of Doctors book
#6
Fish Are Not Afraid of Doctors
Written and illustrated by J E Morris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Maud the koala knows a visit to the doctor will help keep her healthy–so why is she so scared? Maud gets nervous waiting at the doctor’s office for a checkup, so she looks to the fish tank in the waiting room for comfort. Fish don’t have to go to the doctor–she wishes she could be a fish. So when Maud has to get a shot, she shuts her eyes and pretends exactly that: She becomes an aquatic version of herself and pretends to swim through the sea, blowing bubbles and meeting other marine life, until she hears the doctor telling her it’s all done!

Toad Has Talent book
#7
Toad Has Talent
Written and illustrated by Richard Smythe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Every year when Moonlight Pond freezes over, a talent contest takes place deep in the woods. Ducks dance, mice perform… But there is one animal that never competes. Toad watches the talent show from behind his rock, careful to keep himself hidden. Because Toad doesn't have a special talent--or so he thinks! When Toad is finally discovered, he slips on the icy pond and realises he does have an incredible talent himself ice-skating! This hilarious, heart-warming, story shows the reader that you never know what you can do unless you try.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!