Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to feeling scared. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about feeling scared.
Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.
When it comes to children’s stories about feeling scared, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like We All Go Traveling by to popular sellers like Wemberly Worried to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Doll People.
We hope this list of kids books about feeling scared can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.
Hugo is a bird that’s afraid to fly. I love this story, because he faces his fears and ends up so happy once he’s learned how to fly. I also love that he has such wonderful friends along the way that help him practice and help him through his nerves when he’s scared. Sometimes it’s helpful to have friends that can help you to overcome your fears. :) Plus, the illustrations in this story based in Paris are gorgeous!
Hugo is a dapper little bird who adores the Eiffel Tower—or at least his view of it from down here. Hugo, you see, has never left the ground. So when he meets another bird, the determined Lulu, who invites him to fly with her to the top of the tower, Hugo stalls, persuading Lulu to see, on foot, every inch of the park in which he lives instead. Will a nighttime flying lesson from Bernard the Owl, some sweet and sensible encouragement from Lulu, and some extra pluck from Hugo himself finally give this bird the courage he needs to spread his wings and fly?
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.
Wally the sheep does not want to get the haircut he really needs, even after all the other farm animals get new hairdos, but when his shaggy wool gets him in trouble, he has no choice but to ask for a trim.
This was a fantastic book about conquering your fear. The illustrations are so fun—I love all of the different angles and perspectives the illustrator shows Jabari’s situation from and how that really pulls you into the story. Jabari’s dad is patient and understanding, and doesn’t tell Jabari to just hurry up and jump, but waits for him to be ready and coaches him through a technique that might help him be ready to make the leap.
Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash.
Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.
After reading this for the first time, I immediately added to my “to buy” list. I’m a sucker for “fractured fairy tales” (which this isn’t quite, but in the same vein) and this is an incredibly clever take on Humpty Dumpty “after the fall,” exposing the emotional trauma following his traumatic accident and how he goes about conquering his fears. No spoilers here, but when I hit the last page I was blown away: so clever and so many warm fuzzies when Humpty realizes his full potential.
From the New York Times–bestselling creator of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend comes the inspiring epilogue to the beloved classic nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty.
Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?
Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat’s poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.
Will he summon the courage to face his fear?
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.
Lionheart - The Book Snob Mom - The illustrations in this book are gorgeously rich and detailed and add reality to this story of imagination and conquering fears. Richard’s lion (Lionheart) was reminiscent of Aslan (of The Chronicles of Narnia) to me in his protection and empowerment of the little boy in facing his own fears, which made the story even more powerful and meaningful to me personally.
Little Home Bird - Little Bird loves everything about his home. He’s surrounded by his favourite branch, his favourite food, his favourite view and his favourite music. Why on earth would he ever want to change, even when his brother tells him that they must? Discover how Little Bird ends up finding happiness in his new home from home in this beautifully illustrated picture book. Perfect for all children who love home, however many they may have.
Thunder Cake - A loud clap of thunder booms, and rattles the windows of Grandma’s old farmhouse. “This is Thunder Cake baking weather,” calls Grandma, as she and her granddaughter hurry to gather the ingredients around the farm. A real Thunder Cake must reach the oven before the storm arrives. But the list of ingredients is long and not easy to find . . . and the storm is coming closer all the time! Reaching once again into her rich childhood experience, Patricia Polacco tells the memorable story of how her grandma–her Babushka–helped her overcome her fear of thunder when she was a little girl. Ms. Polacco’s vivid memories of her grandmother’s endearing answer to a child’s fear, accompanied by her bright folk-art illustrations, turn a frightening thunderstorm into an adventure and ultimately . . . a celebration! Whether the first clap of thunder finds you buried under the bedcovers or happily anticipating the coming storm, Thunder Cake is a story that will bring new meaning and possibility to the excitement of a thunderstorm.
Chicken Lily - Chicken Lily may be a lot of things—a careful colorer, a patient puzzler, and a quiet hide-and-seeker (she never made a peep!)—but brave has never been one of them. That’s why, when a school-wide poetry jam is announced in class, Lily is terrified. Will she sound like a bird brain? Although Lily’s friends Baabette and Pigsley try to encourage her, Lily feels like a rotten egg. Finally, Lily realizes that she must put her best claw forward and prove that even chickens aren’t chicken all the time.
This is just an amazing book all around: the illustrations are gorgeous and unique and the story is fantastic as well, with a great message! Orion is afraid of so many things, but especially the dark until The Dark comes to visit him. The cheerful personification of the dark looks absolutely huggable and I love how together they conquer Orion’s fear by discovering the truth of each aspect of the dark that terrifies him—knowledge is power.
Orion is very scared of the dark—until Dark decides to pay him a visit!
Orion is scared of a lot of things, but most of all he’s scared of the dark. So one night the Dark decides to take Orion on an adventure. Emma Yarlett’s second picture book combines her incredible storytelling and artwork with die-cut pages that bring the Dark to life.
Nate loves sharks. He reads shark books every day, watches sharks on TV, and talks about them nonstop. He even likes to pretend he’s a shark wherever he goes! However, there is one small problem. . . . Nate can’t swim. When his older brother points this out, Nate works hard to overcome his fears and learn how to blow bubbles, use a kickboard, and finally swim without help, as quickly and as gracefully as a shark. Will he be able to beat his brother in a swim tryout and get his bite back? Kids will love this jawsome book complete with vibrant and whimsical art and a list of shark facts in the back!
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.
I really like this book. As Hopper and Wilson set out on their adventure they are not afraid of anything. Their sight is completely set on the good that could be at the end of the world. I love this optimism. When they come across some trouble they don’t hide or shrink, but they look for a solution and try to find one another. I think it gives the reader reason and hope in focusing on the good in the world and not worrying or fearing what may come.
A playful tale about friendship and home
“What,” Hopper asks his little friend Wilson, “do you think it’s like at the end of the world?” Hopper, the blue elephant, imagines a staircase to the moon, while Wilson, the yellow mouse, hopes for an endless supply of lemonade. So the two sail off in a boat made of paper . . . only to discover they already have everything they could wish for in each other, and at home. Maria van Lieshout’s adorable new picture book tugs at heartstrings, inspires discussion, and reminds us all how good returning home can feel.
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.
Giant Dance Party - Betsy Bird knows all there is to know about kids and books. She is the New York Public Library’s youth collections specialist, she writes a blog hosted by School Library Journal, and has served on the Newbery Medal committee. Now Betsy Bird has written a children’s book of her own, Giant Dance Party. In this rollicking picture book, a group of giants shows up at Lexy’s door wanting dance lessons. After some initial hesitation, Lexy is happy to teach them, and her dance classes end with all her students—as well as Lexy herself—overcoming their fears and putting on a boogying performance. Brandon Dorman, an award-winning artist whose work can be found in The Wizard, and on the covers of Fablehaven and Goosebumps, brings the giants and their dance moves to life with his full-color illustrations.
Brave As Can Be: A Book of Courage - The Book Snob Mom - The illustrations in this book are simultaneously spunky, charming and engaging! The story is a great read aloud and feels very conversational as if one child was telling another child their wisdom gained so far. I love how it addresses so many common childhood fears, while simultaneously providing perspective and some tricks for dealing with them without seeming preachy or condescending.
Oakwing - 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.
Oliver and the Seawigs - 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.
“I don’t like the dark,” said Little Bear. “What dark?” said Big Bear. “The dark all around us,” said Little Bear.
In this tender account of a sleepless night in the bear cave, Big Bear sets out with all his patience and understanding to show Little Bear that the dark is nothing to be afraid of. When all the lanterns in the cave aren’t enough to quell Little Bear’s troubled emotions, Big Bear offers—in a final loving gesture—nothing less than the bright yellow moon and the twinkling stars! More comforting than even the best of lullabies, this bedtime story is destined to become a classic.
“That day they BOTH learned That, no matter your size, We all have a mouse AND a lion inside.” A mouse feels small and insecure and determines that what he needs to do is learn how to roar like a lion. He knows he has to act brave when he approaches a lion to learn how. In a hilarious turn of events, the lion is afraid of mice! The mouse comforts the lion, they become friends, and we learn that there’s a lion and a mouse inside all of us. The inspiring text by Rachel Bright and the fun, bold illustrations by Jim Field teach young readers an important lesson. Regardless of how big or mighty we are, we can all live our dreams and do what we want to do. Fans of Aesop’s “The Lion and the Mouse” will enjoy The Lion Inside!
Like a well-worn, snuggly blanket, this sweet bedtime story about a little bear who’s afraid of the dark and his mother’s creative solution will warm and comfort readers big and small.
Frankie is a little bear who has a hard time falling asleep. The dark is scary, and he hates to be alone. So his mother gives him a ball of yarn to hold when he goes to bed, and she keeps the other end in the next room, working it into a surprise for Frankie.
Every few nights the yarn color changes, and Frankie dreams in all the colors that he and his mother pick out. One night he’s swimming in turquoise water, another night he’s in a cool gray fog. He plays with a marmalade kitten and eats delicious chocolate cake. Eventually Frankie and his mother create something special—and Frankie learns that he’s always connected to those he loves, even when he’s alone in the dark.
A beautiful story of love and crafting, A Bedtime Yarn will appeal to knitters, sleepy little bears and any parents dealing with their child’s fear of the dark.
A tale with many tails, perfect for cat lovers everywhere!
Miss Hazeltine is opening a very special school for shy and fearful cats. They come from all over, and Miss Hazeltine gives them lessons in everything, from “Bird Basics” to “How Not to Fear the Broom.”
The most timid of all is Crumb. He cowers in a corner. Miss Hazeltine doesn’t mind. But when she gets in trouble and only Crumb knows where she is, will he find his inner courage and lead a daring rescue?
Filled with adorable illustrations and ideal for fans of Disappearing Desmond and The Invisible Boy, Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats is a story that’s perfect for shy and fearful children as it both helps them face scary situations and accepts them just as they are.
Desmond Cole goes camping and tells some scary campfire stories in the eighth book of the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol series! Camping with Desmond Cole is a lot of fun, until he starts telling ghost stories around the campfire. Most kids tell creepy stories that are totally fake, but Desmond tells totally true stories that will give you goosebumps. So, settle in while Desmond, Andres, and their ghost-friend, Zax, take turns trying to tell the scariest story of all. With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.
Wemberly Worried - Wemberly worried about everything. Big things. Little things. And things in between. Then it was time for school to start.And Wemberly worried even more. If you ever worry (or know someone who does), this is the book for you.
The Doghouse - Mouse, Pig, Cow, and Duck are playing a carefree game of ball when (horror of horrors!) their ball gets kicked into . . . THE DOGHOUSE. Who will risk a run-in with scary Dog to get it back? Hysterical high anxiety ensues as Mouse volunteers each animal to do the dirty work—but you’ll never believe what’s really going on in the doghouse! With Jan Thomas’s fun, fresh art and priceless animal expressions, this timeless tale of fear and friendship will have young readers howling.
Trick-or-Treat - This frighteningly funny collection of Halloween poems is perfect for sharing! It’s that time of year again… The wind is howling, the leaves are blowing. A sliver of moon is barely showing. And the happy haunters are ready for a monstrous good time! In this collection of fifteen sweet, silly, and seriously fun rhyming poems, young readers will meet hungry ghouls, sneaky ghosts, and frisky skeletons, all who love partying in the moonlight. It’s a Halloween spook-tacular like no other!
The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark - Mr. Fish wants to help his friend Ms. Clam when she loses her pearl, but though he’s fast as a sailfish, as smart as dolphin, and as strong as a shark, Mr. Fish has a secret: he’s scared of the dark! Very young children will swim along with Mr. Fish as he journeys deep into the ocean to new and mysterious places. They will discover, as Mr. Fish does, the power of friendship to light the way through the big-big dark.
Three little bears set out, on a dark night, to explore a mysterious hollow tree and, once inside, make surprising discovery after surprising discovery.
Feather, Flap, and Spike are spending their first night in their very own nest. They tell stories and snuggle up to get a good night’s sleep, until . . . GRRORE! What’s that scary-sounding noise? Young readers will find both humor and comfort in this cozy bedtime story, perfect for anybody who’s ever been nervous about a mysterious noise at night.
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.
A group of children use various modes of transportation to get to school, beginning with the familiar and friendly yellow school bus that goes “beep-beep-beep” and continuing on to introduce other colorful and noisy vehicles.
When I'm Feeling Scared - 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.
When the Moon Came Down - A magical bedtime story about friendship that eases nighttime fears Little Bunny just can’t sleep. He’s hungry, but too scared of the dark to go looking for food. Then he sees a bright light nearby—what can it be? Can it really be the Moon, come down from the sky to see him? A surprising friendship is celebrated with delicate and charming pictures by a prizewinning illustrator.