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5 Kids Books About Facing Fears & Problem Solving

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.

Oliver and the Seawigs book
#1
Oliver and the Seawigs
Written by Phillip Reave and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre, Phillip Reave
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Get ready for moving islands! Mischievous monkeys! And a splashy adventure with illustrations on almost every page. When Oliver’s explorer parents go missing, he sets sail to find them with some new friends. There’s a grumpy albatross, a nearsighted mermaid . . . even a living island! But the high seas are more exciting and strange than Oliver could have imagined. Can he and his crew spar with sarcastic seaweed, outrun an army of sea monkeys, win a fabulous maritime fashion contest, and defeat a wicked sea captain in time to save Mom and Dad? For early chapter book readers who are ready for something longer, the Not-So-Impossible Tales are packed with silly humor, action, and larger-than-life fun.

What Do You Do with a Problem? book
#2
What Do You Do with a Problem?
Written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What do you do with a problem? Especially one that follows you around and doesn't seem to be going away? Do you worry about it? Ignore it? Do you run and hide from it? This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn't so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It's a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it's here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem and yourself. What are problems for? They challenge us, shape us, push us, and help us to discover just how strong and brave and capable we really are. Even though we don't always want them, problems have a way of bringing unexpected gifts. So, what will you do with your problem?

Somewhere Else book
#3
Somewhere Else
Written and illustrated by Gus Gordon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

George has absolutely no interest in exploring the world. None at all. He's far too busy enjoying his home life and baking delicious pastries. Or so he tells all his friends when they invite him along on their wonderful adventures. But when George's friend Pascal digs a little deeper, the real reason George refuses to travel away from home is finally revealed . . . From the children's book author of the acclaimed Herman and Rosie comes Gus Gordon's Somewhere Else.

I'm a Duck book
#4
I'm a Duck
Written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

I cannot swim, and that is bad. A landlocked duck is very sad. One day, an egg rolled out of a nest and right into a deep pond. Now that egg is a little duck, and the water is still very scary. Jumping into the pond at all seems impossible, never mind swimming in a line with all his brothers. “You’re a duck, and ducks don’t sink,” Big Frog points out. Practicing in a puddle helps a little, while backrubs and snacks from his mother help a little more. Big Frog offers to hold his friend’s wing and dive in together, but our little duck knows that some challenges need to be faced alone. Even when they are very scary!

Tank & Fizz book
#5
Tank & Fizz
Written by Liam O'Donnell and illustrated by Mike Deas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

When their school bus veers off course while taking the kids from Gravelmuck Elementary on a field trip, monster detectives Tank and Fizz witness a crime that brings them snout to snout with Rockfall Mountain’s oldest monster, the ancient dragon Firebane Drakeclaw. Thieves have stolen the Crown of Peace, which keeps the monster clans of the Dark Depths from fighting, and Tank and Fizz saw the whole thing. Now the detectives must track down the thieves and find the crown or their whole class will become dinner for one very hungry dragon! The Case of Firebane’s Folly is the fourth book in the Tank & Fizz series about two crime-solving monsters living under a mountain.

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