“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life.” So writes Yann Martel in his classic, Life of Pi. Fear can be terribly debilitating in our lives, no matter our age. Children (and adults!) can have fears of all kinds of things, from big things, like fear of failure, to little things, like fear of bugs.
If fear is life’s opponent, books may be life’s best ally. As C.S. Lewis stated, “Since it is so likely that [children] will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” Children’s literature provides a powerful resource for helping children face and overcome fears and challenges. In these books and stories, children will see characters who have challenges or fears similar to their own. They’ll see how the characters face these fears and challenges and what they do to manage or overcome them. These characters provide children with someone who understands their fears and challenges yet has also successfully overcome them and can inspire courage and offer comfort and reassurance. In other words, stories provide parents and loved ones a framework for talking about fears in a way that is less personal yet still relatable to children.
In this list, we highlight books about overcoming fears of all varieties. Books cover all kinds of challenges, like leaving home, being alone, stage fright, the dark, or even getting a haircut and more. You can use our table of contents to navigate to specific topics that are relevant to helping your reader overcome a fear, such as having courage to start school, overcoming the monster under the bed, being brave while learning to swim, and many others. You can also limit the list to certain book types: board books, great for babies and toddlers; picture books, perfect for toddlers through elementary school age; and chapter books, best for advancing readers through early middle school age.
We hope you can use this list to help children overcome their fears, whatever they may be. If you have a book that is not on the list that has been helpful in overcoming a fear, please share it in the comments below.
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.
From the creator of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and The Guardians of Childhood comes a grand adventure of valor, friendship, and a look into the mysterious world of favorite toys.
In the secret realm of toys, there are many mysteries.
There is the Code of the Toys, which is as ancient as childhood.
There’s also the magic of becoming a child’s favorite, the highest honor in the Toy World.
Made by hand by Billy’s mother, Ollie is a special toy, “a toy who will matter.” He becomes Billy’s best friend, confidant, pal, and yes, Billy’s “favorite.”
But there are villains in the Toy World, and Zozo, the clown king, is the most feared. He and his toy henchman (the Creeps) have sworn to steal and imprison favorite toys until they forget their children and become forever lost.
When Ollie is toynapped, Billy must rescue his beloved favorite from Zozo’s subterranean lair in the old Carnival Place, past the park, through the woods, and into the night.
Never has a journey of ten blocks been more epic.
When Annabelle Doll finds out she might have a missing Aunt Doll somewhere in the house, she decides to face everyone’s biggest fear: leaving the dollhouse. Not only does Annabelle end up facing her fear, but she rallies together the entire Doll family and inspires them to face their fears on the quest to find their missing family member. They have to face cats, breaking, getting around, humans, among other things, but they show bravery, courage, and dedication in their goal.
Annabelle Doll is eight years old-she has been for more than a hundred years. Not a lot has happened to her, cooped up in the dollhouse, with the same doll family, day after day, year after year. . . until one day the Funcrafts move in.
After Rowan is mysteriously transformed into a tiny fairy, she is thrust into a world of fairy clans and talking robins where, she discovers, her long-missing mother is also trapped.
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.
Hanazuki: Dazzle and Dance - Calling all Moonflowers! When Hanazuki and her friends hear about a talent competition on Celebrity Moon, they all want to win the grand prize. Each Moonflower pulls together a team to show off their best talents, and they practice, practice, practice! But Hanazuki’s team is cracking under the pressure. With a little help from Lavender Hemka, she’s going to show them that all they need is a little inspiration! Then Team Hanazuki will be ready to take on Celebrity Moon and the whole galaxy.
Super Spooked - Although she has battled supervillains, Ellie has recently become scared of the dark, so when she is invited to a Halloween sleepover at her best friend’s house she is apprehensive—but when the villainous Fairy Frightmare sprinkles the girls with bad dream dust, trapping them all inside their nightmares, Ellie must squash her own fears to rescue her friends.
Cilla Lee-Jenkins: The Epic Story - The beloved Cilla Lee-Jenkins returns for a third book in this middle-grade series about family, heritage, and overcoming great obstacles through love. Pricilla “Cilla” Lee-Jenkins has already written a “Bestseller” and a “Classic”—now it’s time for her to write an Epic Story. Epics are all about brave heroes overcoming Struggles to save the world, and this year, Cilla is facing her toughest struggles yet: · Cilla is in fifth grade and, unlike her classmates, not at all ready to start middle school. · She has two younger sisters to look after now and they don’t exactly get along. · Her beloved grandfather YeYe has had a stroke and forgotten his English, and it’s up to Cilla to help him find his words again. With humor, heart, and her mighty pen, Cilla Lee-Jenkins will use her powers to vanquish every foe (the mean girls in her class), help every citizen (especially Ye Ye), and save the world.
Marc's Mission - New York Times-bestselling author Jocko Willink delivers a second powerful and empowering Way of the Warrior Kid book about finding your inner strength and being the best you can be, even in the face of adversity in Marc’s Mission.
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.
To find freedom, you must leave behind everything you’ve ever known. It is 2011. You want nothing more than to be a journalist in Somalia like your aunty. But the truth can be dangerous—and when you and your little sister are left alone, you find yourself facing life-and-death choices at every turn. Can you escape a terrorist organization and find a safe place to call home? You’ll be asked to cross a desert on foot, hide below deck in a leaky boat, and put your life in the hands of people smugglers. At every turn, the choice is yours. How far will you go for freedom?
Sam Wu is NOT afraid of the dark. But it’s hard to prove you’re brave when you’re about to face your greatest challenge: camping. That means confronting terrifying things like grizzly bears, vampire bats, aliens, and the worst person in the WHOLE UNIVERSE—Ralph ZInkerman! When something starts haunting the woods, can Sam and his crew band together to become Masters of the Dark? And could they even have . . . FUN?
In the tradition of The War That Saved My Life and Stella By Starlight, this poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II. With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones—one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada. Life aboard the luxury ship is grand—nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum’s glare. And after five days at sea, the ship’s officers announce that they’re out of danger. They’re wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They’ve been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive? Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.
Like a bolt from the blue, Jack’s little sister Maddy is gone—carried into another realm by an ogre. When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive. Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters—as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below. But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king! Ben Hatke, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Zita the Spacegirl, concludes his latest middle-grade fantasy-adventure graphic novel series, Mighty Jack, with the energetic finale to his retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk.
The Storm Keeper’s Island - Fionn Boyle comes from a long line of brave seafarers, people with the ocean behind their eyes. But he can’t help but fear the open sea. For years, Fionn’s mother has told him stories of Arranmore Island, a strange place that seems to haunt her. Fionn has always wondered about this mysterious island, and from the day he arrives he starts noticing things that can’t be explained. He can sense the island all around him, and it feels like the island is watching him, too. Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for his grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. But as Fionn and the other descendants of Arranmore’s most powerful families fight to become the island’s next champion, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling a long-ago war and changing Fionn’s life and the island’s future forever.
Bunjitsu Bunny vs. Bunjitsu Bunny - The further adventures of Isabel the Bunjitsu Bunny, packed with action and Zen-inspired wisdom—a fun chapter book with two color illustrations throughout Isabel is the best bunjitsu artist in her class. She can throw farther, kick higher, and hit harder than anybunny else. But her strongest weapon is her mind. Bunjitsu Bunny vs. Bunjitsu Bunny, the fourth book in this series by John Himmelman, follows Isabel as she makes friends, faces her fears, and fights her toughest opponent yet—herself! Read the whole Bunjitsu Bunny series: Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny Bunjitsu Bunny’s Best Move Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon Bunjitsu Bunny vs. Bunjitsu Bunny Praise for Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon: “Isabel does a good job of approaching every challenge with spunk and determination, and manages to do the right things under the circumstances. . . . As part of the Bunjitsu Bunny series, this book is appropriate for children who are beginning to read chapter books, and the stories are fun to read aloud to younger children.” —Childrens Literature Praise for Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny: “Cleverly wrapped in an entertaining package, the zen-type morals are edifying but not preachy and serve to genuinely enrich the stories.” —The Horn Book, starred review “A series of Zen lessons touched with gentle humor.” —Kirkus Reviews “Delightful . . . reminiscent of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad stories or Jon Muth’s ever-popular Zen Shorts.” —School Library Journal
Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of Sharks - On a class trip to the aquarium, certified ghost hunter Sam Wu encounters something even scarier than ghosts: a giant shark who TOTALLY tries to eat him. Sam has no intentions of taking any more chances with these people-eating creatures. But then his classmates plan a birthday bash . . . on the BEACH! Can Sam overcome his fear of becoming fish food before he misses out on the fun?
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…
“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?”
In 1942, 13-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa and her Japanese American family are sent from their home in Seattle to an internment camp in Idaho. All they can do is wonder when America will remember that they, too, are Americans. This memorable and powerful novel in verse, written by award-winning author Mariko Nagai, explores the nature of fear, the beauty of life, and the hope of acceptance triumphing over bigotry.
A girl unravels a centuries-old mystery after moving into a haunted house in this deliciously suspenseful read that Kirkus Reviews calls “just the ticket for a cold autumn night.” Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones. When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. And it involves a secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years. With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her!
Meet the World’s Funniest Kindergartner—Junie B. Jones! Junie B. knows there’s no such thing as monsters. Mother and Daddy even said so. But then why is there monster drool on Junie B.’s pillow? Oh, no! What if Paulie Allen Puffer is right—what if she really does have a monster under her bed? If Junie B. goes to sleep, the monster might see her feet hanging down. And he might think her piggy toes are yummy little wiener sausages!
Frank and Joe investigate a supernatural crime in the seventeenth book in the thrilling Hardy Boys Adventures series. One of the Hardys’ favorite writers, Nathan Foxwood, has recently died in a tragic car accident. Now, the press is swarming his house in Bayport to get the scoop on the novel he completed just before his untimely death. When Joe hears that Nathan’s wife is having a giant estate sale, he drags Frank with him. Who could pass up the opportunity to see inside their favorite author’s home? Nathan’s wife says she wants to get away as quickly as possible; strange things have been happening since their first night there and now her husband is gone and she’s sure the house is haunted. But Nathan’s assistant, Adam, is not so willing to blame it all on the supernatural. Valuable things keep disappearing from the house—why would a ghost need money? Adam recognizes the Hardys’ from an article he read and asks for their help. Of course Frank and Joe Hardy don’t believe in ghosts and are positive they can get to the bottom of all this. But when Adam is mysteriously hurt after spending the night alone in the house, the brothers start to wonder; what is the motive for these crimes if not ghostly revenge? Could these brother detectives be in over their heads?
Nancy Drew 11: The Clue Of The Broken Lo - When Nancy Drew and her friends arrive at Misty Lake, they meet pretty, red-haired Cecily Curtis, who seeks Nancy’s help in solving two mysteries. One concerns Cecily’s fiancé, Niko Van Dyke, a popular singer who believes that his record company is cheating him of royalty payments. The other invovles a family treasure hidden before the start of the Civil War; Cecily’s only clue is half of a gold locket. Nancy’s investigations lead her to Pudding Stone Lodge, where the sinister Driscoll family lives. Strange coincidences give Nancy plenty of opportunity to test her sleuthing skills. Braving a series of dangerous situations and discouraging developments, the alert young detective perseveres in her attempts to solve both mysteries and reveal the astounding secrets of Pudding Stone Lodge.
Nancy Drew 21: The Secret in the Old Attic - Nancy Drew races against time to unravel the clues in a dead man’s letters. If she succeeds, Philip March and his little granddaughter can be saved from financial ruin. Following obscure clues, Nancy undertakes a search for some unpublished musical manuscripts which she believes are hidden in the dark, cluttered attic of the rundown March mansion. But someone else wants them enough to put many frightening obstacles in Nancy’s way. Will she outwit a trio of ruthless thieves and solves the Marches’ problems?
Judy Moody - 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.
Kylie the Kitten - Kylie’s excitement over going to summer camp with her friends is threatened by her fear of the water. Includes activities.
In this middle-grade contemporary novel, a shy girl with party-planner parents learns that stepping out of her comfort zone might not be so scary after all. “I am the opposite of a mermaid and that’s exactly the way I like it.” Shy and quiet, Pixie Jones does everything she can to fade into the background. All she wants is to survive middle school without being noticed. Meanwhile, her parents own the best party-planning business in town. They thrive on attention, love being experts in fun, and throw themselves into party personas, dressing as pirates, princes, mermaids, and more. When her mom leaves town indefinitely and her new friend Sophie decides to run for class president, Pixie finds herself way too close to the spotlight. How far is she willing to go to help the people she loves? Sweet, brave, and laugh-out-loud funny, We Are Party People by Leslie Margolis is a story of quiet triumph. Also by Leslie Margolis: We Are Party People Ghosted Praise for We Are Party People: “The strongest chapters are the lively accounts of how Pixie and Dan organize and run parties without Mom . . . Middle school angst tempered by humorous insights.” —Kirkus Reviews “Pixie’s first-person perspective is endearing . . . Give this to fans of gentle, realistic fiction. A solid purchase.” —School Library Journal “Pixie’s friends, Lola and Sophie, provide an excellent example of what good friends should be, and their relationship will show young readers that good friends help and support each other . . . A fun, fast-paced read.” —Booklist “Shy middle schoolers who tend to downplay their talents will find inspiration to be brave?and maybe ideas for planning an amazing party as well.” —VOYA
Fourteen-year-old Roonie loves hip-hop almost as much as she loves her grandmother. She cannot wait to compete in her school’s dance competition. But as her grandmother’s health deteriorates, Roonie becomes more and more reluctant to visit her in the care home. These feelings of guilt and frustration cause Roonie to mess things up with her hip-hop dance partner and best friend, Kira. But while doing some volunteer hours in the hospital geriatric ward, Roonie meets an active senior recovering from a bad fall. Their shared love of dance and the woman’s zest for life help Roonie face her fears, make amends with Kira and reconnect with Gram before it’s too late.
Meet Desmond Cole! A fearless eight-year-old who runs his own ghost patrol, looking for ghosts, monsters, and mischief makers everywhere. Oh, and he just so happens to be my new best friend…and thank goodness! Because I’m afraid of everything.
Welcome to Kersville, a town with a spooky history and a collection of ghosts and spirits who are major mischief-makers. Most kids spend their days without ever seeing or dealing with a ghost, but some kids get stuck with a haunt. When that happens, they call Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol. Desmond is the hall monitor of ghosts and monsters. There’s no job too spooky, icky, or risky for Desmond.
I’m not like that at all. My name’s Andres Miedoso. I’m Desmond’s best friend. We do everything together…including catch ghosts. Seems cool, right? There’s only one problem: I’m afraid of everything.
With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.
Do not panic. Lord Thistlebottom’s Book of Pitfalls and How to Survive Them has taught Roxie Warbler how to handle all sorts of situations. If Roxie’s ever lost in the desert, or buried in an avalanche, or caught in a dust storm, she knows just what to do. But Lord Thistlebottom has no advice to help Roxie deal with Helvetia’s Hooligans, the meanest band of bullies in school. Then Roxie finds herself stranded on a deserted island with not only the Hooligans but also a pair of crooks on the lam, and her survival skills may just save the day — and turn the Hooligans into surprising allies.
Tank & Fizz - 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.
Break Your Chains - To find freedom, you must leave behind everything you’ve ever known. It is 1825. You and Ma have survived on the streets of London ever since the soldiers took Da away and you fled Ireland. Now, with Ma gone too, you find yourself facing life-and-death choices at every turn. Can you carry a secret treasure across the ocean and finally be reunited with Da? You’ll be asked to betray your friends, survive storms at sea and attacks by bushrangers, and trust thieves. At every turn, the choice is yours. How far will you go for freedom?
A Nervous Night - Katie is nervous about a sleepover at her grandparents’ house.
Tick Tock Terror - Conor loves to climb. So when the crusty old manager of a thrill ride based on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” challenges Conor to scale the ride in the dark of night and hide a package at the top, he foolishly accepts. But it isn’t long before he realizes that he is now involved in something far more dangerous. What is in the package, and what does it have to do with Edgar Allan Poe? And why is the town bully so terrified of the old man? The more Conor learns, the deeper in trouble he gets.
Frankie Sparks uses her inventing skills to help her friend overcome stage fright in this second chapter book in the STEM inspired Frankie Sparks, Third-Grade Inventor series. It’s time for the annual school talent show, and Frankie is excited to audition with her magic act! She wants to be just like her idol, Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic. But on the day of the audition, Frankie’s best friend and Magician’s Assistant, Maya, gets a big, scary case of stage fright! How can Maya be Frankie’s helper on stage if she can’t bring herself to speak in front of their audience? It’s up to Frankie Sparks to invent just the perfect thing to help her best friend cope with the spotlight!
Katie has a wonderful time camping with her friends Pedro and JoJo, but when it gets dark the shadows make ordinary things seem frightening.