The best books for older kids who worry too much

The Books I Picked & Why

Name and Tame Your Anxiety: A Kid's Guide

By Summer Batte

Name and Tame Your Anxiety: A Kid's Guide

Why 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.


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

By Bonnie Zucker

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

Why 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.


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

By Nancy Holyoke, Judy Woodburn

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

Why 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.


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

By Janine Halloran

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

Why 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.


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

By Kate Collins-Donnelly

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

Why 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.


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