The best books for older kids who worry too much

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Clinical Psychologist and the parent of a once-anxious child who grew up before I developed the expertise I now have, which means I did just about everything wrong. The silver lining, I guess, is that I see anxiety not only from a therapist’s perspective but also through the eyes of a child who is suffering and a parent who has no idea how to help. All of the books I have written, and all that I have recommended, speak respectfully to children and the adults reading with them about real struggles and real solutions. I feel privileged to be able to do this work.


I wrote...

Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid's Guide to Managing Anxiety

By Dawn Huebner,

Book cover of Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid's Guide to Managing Anxiety

What is my book about?

Worry has a way of growing, shifting from not-a-big-deal to a VERY BIG DEAL in the blink of an eye. This big-deal Worry is tricky, luring children into behaviors that keep the anxiety cycle going. Children often find it hard to fight back against Worry, but not anymore.

Outsmarting Worry teaches 9 to 13-year-olds and the adults who care about them a specific set of skills that makes it easier to face – and overcome – worries and fears. Smart, practical, proven techniques are presented in language immediately accessible to children with an emphasis on shifting from knowing to doing, from worried to happy and free.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Name and Tame Your Anxiety: A Kid's Guide

Dawn Huebner Why did I love this book?

There are lots of things I like about this book. For one, it is perfectly pitched to middle-grade readers with fun (but not baby-ish) art. It’s clear (without being dumbed down), scientifically accurate (minus the jargon), informative (but not overwhelming). The book normalizes anxiety without glossing over the problems it causes and includes real quotes and real questions asked by real kids. Best of all, there are solutions 9-12-year-olds can implement on their own or, even better, with the help of a supportive adult. You can’t go wrong with this one.

By Summer Batte,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Name and Tame Your Anxiety as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Help kids understand and manage anxiety to boost their mental health and well-being.Anxiety in kids is on the rise: 4.4 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have diagnosed anxiety disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And even more kids experience some level of anxiety in their daily lives. In kid-friendly language, award-winning Name and Tame Your Anxiety explains what anxiety is, how it works, and how to manage it.Written by a parent whose child has anxiety and vetted by Myles L. Cooley, Ph.D., author of A Practical Guide to Mental Health & Learning…


Book cover of Take Control of OCD: A Kid's Guide to Conquering Anxiety and Managing OCD

Dawn Huebner Why did I love this book?

While specific to OCD (versus anxiety more broadly), this is a gem of a book that needed to be included in a best-of listing. Like a really good CBT therapy session, the book walks tween and teen readers through the specifics of OCD including what it is, why it happens, and what to do about it. Exposure and Response Prevention (ER/P), the gold standard in the treatment of OCD, is given ample space here, with clear examples to help readers (with the support of an adult) figure out how to chip away at OCD. Plenty of therapists use this book as a guide, for good reason.

By Bonnie Zucker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Take Control of OCD: A Kid's Guide to Conquering Anxiety and Managing OCD is a must-have guide for kids and teens ages 10-16 with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to help them take control and use their strengths to find success in school and in life. This fully updated second edition:

Uses a cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure/response prevention method to stress gradual exposure to obsessive thinking patterns. Provides a step-by-step ladder-based process to help readers conquer their fears and demolish their worries. Helps kids change their obsessive thoughts, tolerate uncertainty, and develop positive self-talk and stress management. Also helps kids advocate for their…


Book cover of A Smart Girl's Guide: Worry: How to Feel Less Stressed and Have More Fun

Dawn Huebner Why did I love this book?

This book focuses on “normal” worry rather than clinical manifestations of anxiety but still, it is chock full of practical tips for stressed-out tweens. Like all of the books in the Smart Girls series, Worry educates and empowers readers, helping them understand why they feel what they feel while giving practical advice about making changes. The only downside is that – while the information in this book is universal – it is clearly pitched to girls. It’s a pity because boys could use a book like this, too.

By Nancy Holyoke, Judy Woodburn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Smart Girl's Guide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Every girl worries from time to time. Maybe it's an argument with a friend, or a big test, or a performance in front of a crowd. Maybe it's her body. Maybe it's even something fun, like a slumber party or overnight camp�or something really big, like moving away or her parents' divorce. For many girls, even small worries can take on a life of their own and get in the way of enjoying life. But this book will help take charge over your worries. You'll learn tried-and-true ways to overcome fears and create a sense of calm. You'll take quizzes…


Book cover of Coping Skills for Kids Workbook: Over 75 Coping Strategies to Help Kids Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger

Dawn Huebner Why did I love this book?

The amygdala is the part of the brain that senses potential danger, setting off an internal alarm (otherwise known as fight-flight-or-freeze). When that happens, the brain is essentially hijacked by the amygdala, making rational thought impossible. We want anxious kids to learn how to move towards – rather than away from – the things that scare them, but first, they need to calm down. Enter Coping Skills for Kids. This book clearly lays out 75 techniques to calm the anxious brain, and helps readers choose which ones are right for them. A unique and highly effective book.

By Janine Halloran,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Coping Skills for Kids Workbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dealing with stress, anxiety and anger are important skills to learn, but not all kids learn those strategies naturally. The Coping Skills for Kids Workbook can help teach children to calm down, balance their energy and emotions, and process challenging feelings. Author Janine Halloran, LMHC, share over 75 innovative, fun and engaging activities developed from her experience in schools, outpatient mental health clinics and as a mother.

Loved by counselors, educators and parents alike!!


Book cover of Starving the Anxiety Gremlin: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook on Anxiety Management for Young People

Dawn Huebner Why did I love this book?

This book manages to convey lots of information about anxiety without feeling overwhelming to tween readers, in part due to an effective layout and the use of workbook activities (quizzes, questionnaires, word searches, etc.) that encourage kids to personalize and practice what they are learning. Anxiety is externalized in the form of a gremlin, which readers are taught to recognize, challenge, and ultimately tame. There is the added bonus of a UK author – and plenty of British-isms - helping US readers remember the universality of anxiety.

By Kate Collins-Donnelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Starving the Anxiety Gremlin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Children's Choice Winner at the School Library Association's Information Book Awards 2014

The Anxiety Gremlin loves one thing - to feed on your anxiety! But watch out, as the fuller he gets, the more anxious you get! How can you stop him? Starve him of his favourite food - your anxiety - and he'll shrink and shrivel away.

Starving the Anxiety Gremlin is a unique and award-winning resource to help young people understand different types of anxiety and how to manage them, including panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety, generalised anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Based on cognitive behavioural principles that…


You might also like...

Saving Raine

By Marian L Thomas,

Book cover of Saving Raine

Marian L Thomas

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Saving Raine is a captivating tale of resilience, redemption, and the enduring power of love, penned by the acclaimed author Marian L. Thomas.

This contemporary fiction novel chronicles the compelling journey of Raine Reynolds as she confronts heartache, betrayal, and loss. Against the vibrant backdrops of Atlanta and Paris, Raine's story unfolds as she grapples with the aftermath of her husband's infidelity and tragic passing.

Through poignant prose and compelling characters, "Saving Raine" delves into themes of forgiveness, healing, and the strength discovered in confronting life's greatest challenges. Readers will be captivated by Raine's emotional odyssey as she unearths hope, redemption, and the courage to embrace a brighter future.

Saving Raine

By Marian L Thomas,

What is this book about?

Raine Reynolds stands at the crossroads of despair and opportunity.
 
When the life you've built crumbles and the past refuses to release its grip, sometimes you need a fresh start-a new beginning that promises hope and redemption.
 
Once a celebrated author, Raine's life unraveled, sending her fleeing to the picturesque streets of Paris to escape the tormenting heartache that threatened to consume her. Yet, no matter how far she traveled, the pain remained her unwelcome companion.
 
Returning to bustling Atlanta as a senior VP for an ad agency, Raine is forced to confront a city steeped in…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in anxiety, OCD, and stress management?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about anxiety, OCD, and stress management.

Anxiety Explore 188 books about anxiety
OCD Explore 27 books about OCD
Stress Management Explore 27 books about stress management