We were actually surprised to realize that that we hadn’t yet put together a list for parents of children’s books about anxiety. Considering how many other topics that children’s books have helped us with — from books about neurodiversity to children’s books about grief — we thought it was a good time to focus specifically on the anxiety so many kids are feeling right now.
(We have written about books about anxiety for teens and older kids, by the way, should that be more appropriate for your own family.)
I know many of us parents try to shelter our very young kids from some of the most difficult news from around the world, but they still absorb a lot of info about current events just from television news on in the background, talk at school, and from discussions we have with our partners at home.
And with our collective hearts focused on Ukraine, as well as continued worry over Covid, it’s no wonder that even those of us with young kids may be looking for children’s books bout anxiety.
If you’re finding yourself having to help your kids work through some big feelings of worry, anxiety or even grief, keep reading for a list of seven excellent picture books that can help you open the conversation. We’re big believers in using books (as well as crafts and coloring pages) to help open the door to more meaningful, in-depth conversations with our kids; and when it comes to these children’s books about anxiety, it’s a perfect jumping off point to help kids know they are not alone in their feelings.
You may even find that these books and the conversations they generate will help soothe your worries too.
Please note that the following links will take you to the book’s Amazon listing, and your purchase may generate a small commission that helps support our team at no additional cost to you. You may also consider shopping online through IndieBound or in person at your favorite local bookseller — and we always love our local libraries.
Related: How to talk to kids about Ukraine: Expert tips for parents with kids of all ages.
Wonderful children’s books about anxiety
Ruby finds a Worry by Tom Percival
Even the most happy-go-lucky kids can suddenly be overcome with worry and anxiety “out of nowhere” — I’ve seen it with my own kids and it can be scary for both kids and their caregivers. In Ruby finds a Worry by Tom Percival, we see how a little worry left unchecked can grow and grow until Ruby finds someone who understands what she’s going through. I love the sweet illustrations and the not-too-scary scribble which can represent any kind of worry for the child.
This title is one of several books in the new and wonderful Big Bright Feelings series that help kids deal with all kinds of emotions, from anger to self-confidence to making friends. The content is fantastic and the children represented are diverse so a wider range of kids can see themselves in the images.
Big Problems, Little Problems by Ben Feller
It’s easy for kids (and adults!) to get overwhelmed by the many challenges we all face which is why a book like Big Problems, Little Problems is such a wonderful read. This new title, scheduled to be released in May, is by former White House Correspondent Ben Feller who writes about how a father and son find ways to tackle their problems together.
Illustrated by Mercè López, whose book Room for Everyone was named an Amazon Editors’ Best Children’s Books of 2021, there is such tenderness to the pictures I’ve seen, that this is one children’s book about anxiety that we’re all looking forward to adding to our home libraries.
The Don’t Worry Book by Todd Parr
Written in 2019 by prolific children’s author Todd Parr, The Don’t Worry Bookis a children’s book about anxiety that’s designed to help preschoolers identify their anxious feelings and what causes them. It also offers a few simple ways to help manage those feelings.
I love Parr’s trademark bright, cartoonish illustrations — look at those silly pets doing (what else?) downward dog! — that keep the subject from getting too dark, but still mange to convey how serious feelings of anxiety can be.
You can also find video of Todd reading this title on YouTube if you’d like to preview before purchasing. And if his style looks familiar, it’s because his books have been featured here before, namely for the beautifully open-minded The Family Book and the reassuring The School Book.
Related: 10 books to help kids and teens cope with anxiety during Covid 19. Because it may be getting harder, not easier.
A Kids Book About Anxiety by Ross Szabo
A Little Book About Fear by Jelani Memory
Whether you have board-book handling toddlers or beginner readers, A Kids Company About offers two children’s books about anxiety to help our youngest kids understand what fear and anxiety are and to help them normalize those feelings.
A Little Book About Fear by Jelani Memory helps toddlers learn how fear can sometimes stop you from doing something you want to do, which is a great starter lesson. For kids five and up, A Kids Book About Anxiety differentiates between “nervousness” and true anxiety, and provides kids with a vocabulary to express how they’re feeling. Written by youth mental health movement advocate Ross Szabo, I think it’s a great title to use in conjunction with books for coping with anxiety (including two more ideas below), mindfulness podcasts, or meditation aids.
Related: Our favorite mindfulness podcasts to help anxious kids find their calm
Find your Calm / Encuentra Tu Calma by Gabi Garcia
Find your Calm and for Spanish speakers, Encuentra Tu Calma, each offer actionable things kids can do when they are feeling anxious. Written by licensed professional counselor Gabi Garcia, she’s created a wonderful resource for kids as she explains how anxious thoughts or worrying can cause your body to react in ways that actually make the anxiety feel worse.
Using simple activities and coping tools, Garcia helps kids reclaim their power and understand that the way their bodies feel is likely in reaction to signals from their brain.
Having had one of my own children struggle with anxiety at a very young age, I wish I had owned this book back then; that mind-body connection can be a tricky one for kids to understand when they’re feeling bad and I think it’s a really fantastic book for you to own if your kid is in the same situation.
B is for Breathe: The ABCs of Coping with Fussy and Frustrating Feelings by Dr. Melissa Munroe Boyd
A terrific children’s book about anxiety for even our youngest kids, B is for Breathe provides an entire alphabet of age-appropriate coping skills. Written by clinical psychologist and U.S. Army officer Dr. Melissa Munroe Boyd, you’ll find so many great tips here for helping kids deal with anxious thoughts.
Please note that while I love the diversity shown throughout this book and the overall advice, secular families should be aware that the letter “P” is for “prayer.” It’s offered without any reference to a particular religion or denomination, so you can apply your own thinking to it, whether as actual prayer, a type of inner reflection, or, do as one imaginative parent did: change the prompt to “pets” with some animal stickers. Whatever your belief system, you might want to steal that last idea anyway.
I do know that nothing calms us all more than snuggling up with our big black lab until we feel better.