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9 Kids Books About Facing Fears & Imagination

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.

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles book
#1
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Whangdoodle was once the wisest, the kindest, and the most extraordinary creature in the world. Then he disappeared and created a wonderful land for himself and all the other remarkable animals -- the ten-legged Sidewinders, the little furry Flukes, the friendly Whiffle Bird, and the treacherous, "oily" Prock. It was an almost perfect place where the last of the really great Whangdoodles could rule his kingdom with "peace, love and a sense of fun"-- apart from and forgotten by people. But not completely forgotten. Professor Savant believed in the Whangdoodle. And when he told the three Potter children of his search for the spectacular creature, Lindy, Tom, and Ben were eager to reach Whangdoodleland. With the Professor's help, they discovered the secret way. But waiting for them was the scheming Prock, who would use almost any means to keep them away from his beloved king. Only by skill and determination were the four travelers able to discover the last of the really great Whangdoodles and grant him his heart's desire. Julie Andrews Edwards, star of stage and screen, has written a unique and beloved story that has become a modern classic. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles is sure to continue to delight readers everywhere. This edition includes a new foreword by the author.

The Red Boat book
#2
The Red Boat
Written and illustrated by Hannah Cumming
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Posy is afraid of her new house and all the unknown that comes with it, but when she and her dog find a red boat in the garden, she imagines all kinds of adventures and gains confidence despite being the new kid.

On a Windy Night book
#3
On a Windy Night
Written by Nancy Raines Day and illustrated by George Bates
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

On a windy Halloween night, as a little boy makes his way home after trick-or-treating, he hears a voice: “Cracklety-clack, bones in a sack. They could be yours—if you look back.” As his heart flip-flops with fear, the boy dashes through woods and fields that seem full of haunting shapes—owls, ghosts, skeletons, and more. The detailed illustrations are packed with visual tricks for children to discover. Are those skeletons or cornstalks? Ghostly hands or tree branches? The playful tone of the text makes this a perfect, not-too-scary read-aloud, with an enjoyable surprise ending.

Ella and Penguin Stick Together book
#4
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.

Tooth Monsters book
#5
Tooth Monsters
Written by Jessica Martinello and illustrated by Gregoire Mabire
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

The young girl at the centre of this charming and quirkily-illustrated story hates brushing her teeth and is terrified of the dentist; as far as she's concerned, there's no scarier monster. But when she meets a real monster in her bathroom, she learns how dentists are really heroes and brushing your teeth is very important - so important that even monsters do it!This inventive picture book is brimming with humour and imagination. Parent and child will love to read along together over and over again.

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!

How to Catch a Monster book
#7
How to Catch a Monster
Written by Adam Wallace and illustrated by Andy Elkerton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-10

There's a monster in my closet, with claws, and teeth, and hair, and tonight, I'm going to scare him! He lives just right through there... Get ready to laugh as a young ninja heads into the closet to meet the monster that's been so scary night after night! But what if things aren't what they seem and our monster isn't scary at all? What if our ninja hero is about to make a friend of strangest sort? If you dare to travel beyond the closet door and into the land of the monsters... you might just find the very best reward of all. But with robots, lava pie, and a smattering of traps—catching monsters is no easy business! Is there a monster living in your closet? Are you brave enough to catch him? Parents and children will love sharing this fun and inventive picture book, which reminds us that things aren't always as scary as they seem.

Ready to Ride book
#8
Ready to Ride
Written and illustrated by Sébastien Pelon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A little boy is told to play outside by his mom, and bumps into an imaginary friend with whom he goes for a bike ride. At first he finds it difficult to keep up, but with the imaginary friend’s help he takes off the bike’s stabilisers and learns to freewheel—all the way home. A marvelous book with a can do attitude.

Violet and the Woof book
#9
Violet and the Woof
Written by Rebecca Grabill and illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

If you love stories of imagination, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Where the Wild Things Are, and Charlie and Lola—you’ll adore spending time with these two courageous siblings. “Once upon a time, a brave little girl and her brother set out on a long, long journey,” Violet tells Peter. “A journey fraught with danger and peril.” Riding their building’s elevator and traveling the hallways past apartment doors to bring soup to a sick neighbor, Violet and Peter encounter both real and imagined adventure—getting lost in the laundry room, running into a troll, and escaping scary noises in the nick of time, only to find that their poor sick neighbor looks . . . like a wolf! Clever, thought-provoking, and with an unforgettable ending, Violet and the Woof is a book that explores the power of imaginative storytelling and will have kids asking: “What’s real?”

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