The best picture books about facing your fears

Who am I?

I’m a picture book writer who struggles with anxiety. Some things that seem like no big deal to most people can become a very big worry for me (like Giraffe worries about Spider in It Will Be OK). I found that identifying and naming our emotions—in this case fear—makes it easier to address our feelings and work through them. I want to share my experience of being fearful of things, both big and small, with children to let them know they are not alone and they can have power over scary emotions.


I wrote...

It Will Be OK: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship

By Lisa Katzenberger, Jaclyn Sinquett (illustrator),

Book cover of It Will Be OK: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship

What is my book about?

Giraffe and Zebra meet every day under their favorite tree to walk to the watering hole. But today, Giraffe isn't there. Where could he be? Zebra spots him hiding in the tree; Giraffe has seen a spider and is scared silly. Zebra patiently talks to Giraffe and does the very best thing: supports Giraffe for as long as Giraffe needs it.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Me and My Fear

Lisa Katzenberger Why did I love this book?

In this beautiful book, Fear is its own character, a soft white blob with minimal facial features. It starts out protecting the main character from danger, and the girl considers Fear a protector. But when the girl travels to a new country, Fear begins to grow and get in her way, preventing her from speaking up or making friends. Then when the girl spots a boy with his own Fear, she faces her own Fear, literally pushing it away so she can go outside and play, until Fear becomes smaller. It is a brilliant depiction of our fears blocking us, the work it takes to overcome them, and the joy we can feel when we do.

By Francesca Sanna,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Me and My Fear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

A beautiful tale of conquering fears and spreading empathy from award-winning author and illustrator Francesca Sanna.When a young girl has to travel to a new country and start at a new school, her Fear tells her to be alone and afraid. How can she hope to make friends if she doesn't understand their language?

A heart-warming and relevant new tale from the bestselling author and illustrator of The Journey, this book shows us the importance of sharing your Fear with others - after all, everyone carries a Fear with them, even if it's small enough to fit into their pocket!


Book cover of Jabari Jumps

Lisa Katzenberger Why did I love this book?

One of the many things I love about this book is that Jabari doesn’t start out the story afraid. He is ready for the diving board! He passed his swimming test and is feeling brave! But it’s not until he watches other kids walk up the long ladder, looking like little bugs at the end of the diving board that fear sets in. He stalls, takes a little rest, then turns to his dad for comfort, who frames overcoming fear as feeling like a surprise. Jabari loves surprises and this different point of view motivates him to face his fear and go off the diving board. The story is so perfect in that it demonstrates being afraid, shows what avoidance tactics we sometimes use, and then has a wonderfully satisfying moment when Jabari overcomes his fears with a splash!

By Gaia Cornwall,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Jabari Jumps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

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…


Book cover of Truman

Lisa Katzenberger Why did I love this book?

I love that Truman is not your typical first day of school jitters book! In this story, it’s Sarah who goes off to school and her pet turtle Truman who is left alone. He doesn’t know where Sarah went or if she will ever return. Truman is afraid of life without his Sarah! But Sarah means so much to him, he sets out to find her – climbing out of his tank, making the treacherous journey across the living room rug, and finally making it to the door. Seeing how far he travelled over the course of the day made Truman feel brave, and in that instant Sarah arrives home safe and sound. This story shows children that simply setting out to do something we are afraid of is a huge accomplishment in and of itself.

By Jean Reidy, Lucy Ruth Cummins (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



An NPR Favorite Book of 2019
A New York Times Best Children’s book of 2019
A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2019
A School Library Journal Best Picture Book of 2019

"An enchanting tale of bravery, heroism, and undying devotion." —The New York Times Book Review

After his best friend Sarah leaves for her first day of school, a tortoise named Truman goes on an adventure across the living room and learns to be brave in this thoughtful and heartwarming twist on a first experience story.

Truman the tortoise lives with his Sarah, high above the taxis and the…


Book cover of Ruby Finds a Worry

Lisa Katzenberger Why did I love this book?

As an expert worrier, I really related to this book about a spunky girl named Ruby who one day discovers a worry. What I love about this book is that the worry is illustrated, so we can see its intimidating facial expression and watch it grow in size. The worry follows Ruby to all her favorite places—the school bus, the swing set, the movies—and it prevents her from doing what she loves. But it’s not until she spots another worry sitting with a boy that she is able to face her fear about the worry and do the best thing ever – talk about it. I love how this story shows children that talking about our feelings gives us power and strength to work through them.

By Tom Percival,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ruby Finds a Worry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

The beloved picture book about what to do when a worry won't leave you at alone -- perfect for reassuring young readers in times of stress.

Meet Ruby -- a happy, curious, imaginative young girl. But one day, she finds something unexpected: a Worry. It's not such a big Worry, at first. But every day, it grows a little bigger . . . and a little bigger . . . . Until eventually, the Worry is ENORMOUS and is all she can think about.

But when Ruby befriends a young boy, she discovers that everyone has worries, and not only…


Book cover of There Might Be Lobsters

Lisa Katzenberger Why did I love this book?

I love this book’s unique approach to sharing a story about fear – it lists all the wild ruminations that can run through our minds. In this case, it’s a dog Sukie who is not enjoying a trip to the beach because, among other worries, there might be lobsters! Sukie’s list of fears grows and grows as the story goes on, and she is paralyzed in the sand – until her precious toy Chunka Munka is swept into the water. Sukie lets love overpower her fear and jumps into the water without a worry to save her precious friend. It’s a wonderful story about what we are willing to do to overcome our fear for the sake of others.

By Carolyn Crimi, Laurel Molk (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked There Might Be Lobsters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Come on, Sukie, you can do it! A little dog’s paralyzing anxiety gives way to bravery when someone smaller is in need in this humorous, tenderly sympathetic story.

Lots of things at the beach scare Sukie. Lots. Because she is just a small dog, and the stairs are big and sandy, and the waves are big and whooshy, and the balls are big and beachy. And besides, there might be lobsters. With endearing illustrations and a perfectly paced text that captures a timid pup’s looping thoughts, here is a funny and honest read-aloud about how overwhelming the world can be…


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Book cover of Sweet Dreams, Boone

Susan Grant Author Of The Bottle House

New book alert!

Who am I?

I am a Bible college graduate whose faith has always been a practical matter. Because I learned to find the “so what” of the Bible, when I became a teacher of the Bible in the public schools of Rowan County, North Carolina, my elective courses had waiting lists for students to get in to. As I now teach in Maine, I found I could continue to share a practical Christian faith through my writing. The books I have listed here do the very thing that I seek in my own writing.

Susan's book list on authentically illustrating genuine Christian faith

What is my book about?

Boone is a sad and lonely little dog. He doesn’t like to be left alone when Mom goes to work.

To help him feel better, Mom buys him a special basket for his bed. When he sleeps, he dreams of a long-ago time and meets a man who is sad and lonely too, until he meets Jesus.

Sweet Dreams, Boone

By Susan Grant, Kelly Artieri (illustrator),

What is this book about?

Boone is a sad and lonely little dog. He doesn’t like to be left alone when Mom goes to work. To help him feel better, Mom buys him a special basket for his bed. When he sleeps, he dreams of a long-ago time and meets a man who is sad and lonely too, until he meets Jesus.


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