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7 Kids Books About Facing Fears & Emotions

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.

Ella and Penguin Stick Together book
#1
Ella and Penguin Stick Together
Written by Megan Maynor and illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Sometimes all you need is a good friend to help you be brave. Ella has a surprise for Penguin—glow-in-the-dark stickers! But to see the stickers glow, Ella and Penguin must be in the dark. And the dark is so . . . dark! If only they could see the stickers glow in the light—but that won't work. Soon Ella and Penguin find out that if they stick together, they can face anything. Megan Maynor's sweet and lively text, paired with Rosalinde Bonnet's irresistible illustrations, will have readers clamoring for more Ella and Penguin.

Judy Moody book
#2
Judy Moody
Written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

The mercurial Judy Moody will delight any kid who's known a bad mood or a bad day--and managed to laugh anyway. "Judy Moody was in a mood. Not a good mood. A bad mood. A mad-faced mood." To start, Judy Moody doesn't have high hopes for third grade. Her new desk won't have an armadillo sticker with her name on it. Her new classroom will not have a porcupine named Roger. And with her luck, she'll get stuck sitting in the first row, where Mr. Todd will notice every time she tries to pass a note to her best friend, Rocky. An aspiring doctor, Judy does have a little brother who comes in handy for practicing medicine, a cool new pet, and a huge Band-Aid collection. Judy also has an abundance of individuality and attitude, and when Mr. Todd assigns a very special class project, she really gets a chance to express herself! Megan McDonald's spirited text and Peter Reynolds's wry illustrations combine in a feisty, funny first chapter book for every kid who has ever felt a little out of sorts.

When I'm Feeling Scared book
#3
When I'm Feeling Scared
Written and illustrated by Trace Moroney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

The Feelings Series are beautifully produced picture books that cover different emotional concepts for young children. These fully refreshed editions of the classic The Feeling series are especially designed to help children better understand their feelings and how to identify, manage and express those feelings in an appropriate and acceptable way - both to themselves and others. These books provide an invaluable tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and contribute to a healthy emotional foundation upon which children can thrive.

A Nervous Night book
#4
A Nervous Night
Written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Tammy Lyon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Katie is nervous about a sleepover at her grandparents' house.

Wake Up, Color Pup book
#5
Wake Up, Color Pup
Written and illustrated by Taia Morley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A beautiful picture book about a little pup's colorful journey through the range of his emotions! A bright yellow bird promises to bring adventure to sleepy Pup's gray world. As Pup follows his new friend on a walk, each discovery ignites a new feeling and corresponding color, until Pup is saturated with them. But when a storm comes, Pup's color is drained as fear sweeps through him. Only his curious yellow friend remains bright, and encourages him to keep his chin up, play, and carry on! This is a remarkably simple and resonant examination of exploration and resilience, and introduces the idea of abstract association.

At the End of Holyrood Lane book
#6
At the End of Holyrood Lane
Written by Dimity Powell and illustrated by Nicky Johnston
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Flick is just like any other youngster. She loves to chase butterflies and jump in autumn leaves. But life at the end of Holyrood Lane is often violent and unpredictable due to the constant storms that plague her home, causing her to cringe with dread and flee whenever they strike. Visually arresting, emotionally incisive, and ultimately uplifting, this beautifully crafted picture book provides a sensitive glimpse into one aspect of domestic violence and how it can affect young lives.

I'm Scared book
#7
I'm Scared
Written by Jennifer L. Holm and illustrated by Matthew Holm
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Chilly the snowflake is scared of lots of things, but learns that facing his fears and trying something new can be fun.

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