The best picture books for worried or anxious children

Jennifer E. Morris Author Of Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)
By Jennifer E. Morris

The Books I Picked & Why

Ruby Finds a Worry

By Tom Percival

Book cover of Ruby Finds a Worry

Why this book?

Ruby has a small worry, depicted as a small yellow blob, that follows her everywhere. When Ruby ignores her worry, it grows larger and crowds out her other thoughts. It isn’t until she faces her worry and talks about it with a friend that her worry starts to shrink and become manageable again. A simple to understand story that encourages children to face their troubling thoughts and to discuss their feelings.

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Lena's Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-Of-School Dilemma

By Keith Calabrese, Juana Medina

Book cover of Lena's Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-Of-School Dilemma

Why this book?

Lena isn’t worried about the first day of kindergarten - but her shoes are. In this clever story we see various parts of Lena’s wardrobe taking on various personalities, possibly mirroring parts of Lena’s own personality. Her outgoing blue dress is ready for a new adventure, her friendly headband wants everyone to work together, of course, her fearful footwear wants to stay home. But when Lena threatens to wear her slippers to school, will her shoes muster the courage to march forward? A creative and witty book about facing your fears.

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Jabari Jumps

By Gaia Cornwall

Book cover of Jabari Jumps

Why this book?

Jabari has earned his swimming certificate, and now he is ready to jump off the diving board. Or is he? After letting the other kids go first and stopping to rest and stretch, Dad tells Jabari it’s ok to be scared. He tells him that sometimes that scary feeling can also feel “a little like a surprise” and Jabari likes surprises. I like how the author likens the negative feelings of worry and fear to the positive feelings of excitement and anticipation. Overall, a sweet father and son story about overcoming your anxieties.

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The Whatifs

By Emily Kilgore, Zoe Persico

Book cover of The Whatifs

Why this book?

Cora has a bad case of the whatifs, whimiscal bug-like creatures that follow her everywhere. They fill her head with worries like “what if the dog runs away?” or “what if I forget my homework?” The whatifs become almost unbearable as Cora prepares for her big piano recital. What if no one comes? What if she makes a mistake? But through the help of her friend, Cora learns there are also happy whatifs. A good introduction to replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. 

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Breathe Like a Bear

By Kira Willey, Anni Betts

Book cover of Breathe Like a Bear

Why this book?

While this book is a bit longer than a traditional picture book, the simple text and fun, colorful illustrations make it suitable to share with young children. Activities like “Hot Chocolate” and “Bear Breath” introduce simple breathing and stretching exercises. Pick a handful of favorites to practice when your child is feeling overwhelmed to help them find a sense of calm.

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