The best children’s books on overcoming fears

Who am I?

I love this letter that I received from a child reader: Ahoy Ms. Crimi! Your book Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates made me think of myself because the character Henry is really shy and cowardly, kind of like me sometimes. But I put all that aside and come around in the most sincere moments. Like this young reader, I, too, have my cowardly moments. I was definitely Piglet in Winnie the Pooh! Perhaps this is why so many of my books involve fearful characters. It’s a character trait that I relate to all too easily. Writing about my fears gives me some insight to them and, hopefully, it helps my readers as well.


I wrote...

There Might Be Lobsters

By Carolyn Crimi, Laurel Molk (illustrator),

Book cover of There Might Be Lobsters

What is my book about?

Suki is a very small dog who is afraid of pretty much everything at the beach—waves, beach balls, lifeguards, and, of course, lobsters. But when Suki’s very best toy, Chunka Munka, starts floating out to sea, Suki must act bravely and quickly in order to save him.

I got the idea for this book from my own small and fearful dog, Emerson. I took him to the dog beach in town every afternoon until one day a three-inch-tall wave knocked him over. He never liked the beach after that. The only thing he would do is sit in a stranger’s lap, so I figured he could easily just sit in my lap at home without having to pay for the dog beach.

The books I picked & why

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Scaredy Squirrel

By Mélanie Watt,

Book cover of Scaredy Squirrel

Why this book?

Scaredy Squirrel is, quite simply, one of the funniest books ever written about fear of the unknown. I especially love the way the pages are formatted, with lots of fun lists, charts, and diagrams. Scaredy Squirrel is scared of green Martians, killer bees, germs, poison ivy, tarantulas, and sharks. Because he is scared of so many things, he decides to stay in his tree doing the exact same things. Every. Single. Day. It’s not until a killer bee shows up—unplanned!—that Scaredy Squirrel is forced to change his routine.

Whenever I get stuck in a rut, I remind myself that if Scaredy Squirrel can shake things up a bit, so can I.

Scaredy Squirrel

By Mélanie Watt,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Scaredy Squirrel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book in the Scaredy Squirrel series is a comical story of an endearing squirrel who learns what can happen when he’s brave enough to take a risk.


After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

By Dan Santat,

Book cover of After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

Why this book?

After the Fall is about what happened to Humpty Dumpty after his fall. So much of what I enjoy about this story is told through the illustrations, which beg to be poured over. For instance, we learn that Humpty Dumpty is afraid of heights after his legendary fall, which keeps him from enjoying some of his favorite things. In the illustration, we see him in the grocery store. All the fun cereals, like Bowl-O-Cookies and Choco Duck, are on the top shelf that’s only accessible by a ladder, whereas Fiber Flakes and Cardboard are within easy reach. 

Dan Santat has made some interesting choices here. The book is a first-person account told from an egg’s point of view. Weird, yes, and yet it works! Amazing and well done. I promise you will be cheering out loud when Humpty Dumpty decides to overcome his fears and get back on that wall!

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

By Dan Santat,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after? This captivating picture book from Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher who loves to be high up on the city wall. But after his fall, Humpty is terrified of heights and can no longer do his favourite things. He finally pulls together the courage to climb back up the wall. In a surprise twist, Humpty transforms, turning into a magnificent bird, and learns that sometimes you have to fall... before you can fly.


Wemberly Worried

By Kevin Henkes,

Book cover of Wemberly Worried

Why this book?

Anxiety is a tricky thing, and Wemberly Worried illustrates all its various peculiarities. For instance, Wemberly, a world-class worrier, worries that there will be too many butterflies in the neighborhood parade. But then, when it turns out she’s the only butterfly in the neighborhood parade, she worries about that. The only thing that seems to steady her nerves is her adorable toy rabbit, Petal. When Wemberly shows up on her first day of school, her worries lessen when she meets another little girl mouse who has a toy just like Petal. 

While Wemberly is a mouse, this story is very relatable for little boy and girl worriers everywhere. It’s absolutely perfect for those first day of school jitters.

Wemberly Worried

By Kevin Henkes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wemberly Worried as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A back-to-school favorite Wemberly worried about spilling her juice, about shrinking in the bathtub, even about snakes in the radiator. She worried morning, noon, and night. "Worry, worry, worry," her family said. "Too much worry." And Wemberly worried about one thing most of all: her first day of school. But when she meets a fellow worrywart in her class, Wemberly realizes that school is too much fun to waste time worrying!


Jabari Jumps

By Gaia Cornwall,

Book cover of Jabari Jumps

Why this book?

As soon as I read Jabari Jumps, I knew right away that I had found a kindred spirit. Like Jabari, I was one of those kids who would stand on the high dive for what seemed like hours, staring into the water, hoping for a burst of bravery that never happened. Eventually, I either walked back down the ladder or held my nose and jumped. I remember there was an especially cruel pool game called “Jump or Dive” in which someone called “Jump!” or “Dive!” right after you leapt off the diving board. After watching countless children do painful bellyflops I wisely decided that I would jump no matter what was called. Everyone eventually caught on, and I was disqualified. 

This is a beautifully told realistic story that shows how a patient, supportive father can help you conquer even the highest diving boards.

Jabari Jumps

By Gaia Cornwall,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Jabari Jumps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash.

In a sweet tale of overcoming your fears, debut author-illustrator Gaia Cornwall captures a moment at the swimming pool between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can't help but root for. Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He's finished his swimming lessons and passed his swimming test, and he's a great jumper, so he's not scared at all. "Looks easy," says Jabari, watching the other kids take their…


Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy

By Jan Thomas,

Book cover of Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy

Why this book?

How can you not love a book with this title? Jan Thomas happens to be one of my favorite picture book creators, and this book clearly shows why. Her books are all surprising, quirky, and slightly absurd, three things I strive for in my own work. I love the idea of a cowboy who sings lullabies to his cows every night. And while this cowboy starts off fine, he is constantly distracted by scary things he sees in the dark, like a spider (that turns out to be a flower) and a snake that is actually just a stick. Kids love it when adults act silly, and this hysterical cowboy will have them howling with laughter. If you like Sandra Boyton, check out Jan Thomas’s work.

Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy

By Jan Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Join the Brave Cowboy as he tries to sing his young calf pals to sleep on a dark, dark night-EEEEEEEK! IS THAT A HUGE HAIRY SPIDER OVER THERE? Oh, it's just a flower? Well then, back to the lullaby.
No one does preschool humor with Jan Thomas's wit, verve, and bold, snappy color. And her Brave Cowboy and his silly, interrupted lullaby are sure to get everybody singing-before they head off into cozy dreamland....


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fear, preschool, and determination?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about fear, preschool, and determination.

Fear Explore 44 books about fear
Preschool Explore 27 books about preschool
Determination Explore 10 books about determination

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like On a Magical Do-Nothing Day, The Rabbit Listened, and Sometimes I'm Bombaloo if you like this list.