The best children's books on showing anxiety who’s boss

Why am I passionate about this?

From personal experience living with an anxiety disorder, I’ve discovered that once you learn about anxiety and how it works, it’s not so frightening! I’ve applied this knowledge and background to my roles as a mom, award-winning children’s author, and former teacher who transformed into a neuroeducation consultant. I specialize in workshops and one-on-one coaching for schools, families, organizations, and corporations on anxiety, stress management, executive function, and growth mindset. My books are inspired by my desire to engage kids and adults in fun, playful, and empowering stories. My passion to equip others with practical problem-solving tools to decrease stress, promote healthy change and maximize their unique potential is boundless! 

I wrote...

Book cover of ABC Worry Free

What is my book about?

A.B.C. Worry Free is my response to the alarming spike in anxiety we’re seeing among children. When Max gets stung by a bee, his anxiety bosses him around and tells him he can no longer play outside with his friends. Through the lens of Max, readers get a glimpse into how anxiety looks, sounds, and feels and how it interferes with his ability to do what he loves: play outside with his friends!

This book offers kids (and adults!) a relatable story and actionable approach to anxiety. It’s designed to help process worries and develop the skills needed to manage them. Max’s A.B.C. “trick” can be used anyplace, anytime to reset and shift perspectives on anxious thoughts. Join Max and learn how to regain control over anxiety’s vicious cycle and worry less, enjoy more!

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Worry Says What?

Noel Foy Why did I love this book?

I love this picture book’s simple, playful approach to common worries and what happens when we believe them to be true. Edward’s main character perceives Worry as an imposing monster that camps out in her mind. Worry’s voice is loud and bossy at times and affects how she feels in her body. Even worse, Worry inhibits her ability to enjoy life and face challenges—until she learns how to talk back to it!

Every time I read this book I’m enchanted by its delightful illustrations and reminders to stand up to Worry. Just as the main character silences Worry’s voice by flipping anxious thoughts into brave affirmations and powerful reminders of all she’s capable of doing, so can the readers!

By Allison Edwards, Ayesha Rubio (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Worry Says What? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Help Children Learn to Quiet Anxious Thoughts

Allison Edwards, author of the best-selling book Why Smart Kids Worry, gives a glimpse into the ways worry whispers to young minds, and offers a powerful tool all children can use to silence those fears.

"Worry's songs tie my tummy up in knots, and the things he says make my heart beat very fast. Sometimes he speaks in a whisper, and other times his voice gets so loud I can't hear anything else."

Worry and anxiety are currently the top mental health issues among children and teens. Children have a number of worries…

Book cover of Playing with Anxiety: Casey's Guide for Teens and Kids

Noel Foy Why did I love this book?

I love Lynn Lyons’ direct yet playful approach to anxiety, and this book is no exception. Anxiety can be so bossy and messy, it can send messages to some kids that they can’t handle challenges.

That’s what happens to fourteen-year-old Casey, the main character. Casey’s anxiety imposes limitations on her life and makes her world smaller, including her ability to try new things or experience fun and success in school, relationships, and family situations.

Join Casey as she bravely steps into problem-solving mode and learns to tolerate a bit of discomfort when facing anxious moments. Along the way, she builds skills, resilience, and confidence. Ultimately, she expands her world and enjoyment of it. Full of key information, relatable stories, practical applications, and helpful tips—not to mention Lynn’s signature humor—this book is a must for parents or tweens/teens dealing with anxiety.

By Lynn Lyons, Reid Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Casey, the fourteen year old narrator, knows just what it’s like to be miserable. It started slowly: backing away from birthday parties, avoiding the Fourth of July fireworks, leaving before the end of movies. By second grade, stomach aches and tantrums before school seemed as common as strawberry jelly on toast. Then, just before her fourth grade chorus concert—as her mom was braiding her hair—Casey puked. No concert. No post-concert ice cream with her friends. Only a night filled with tears. Everything changed that next morning. Casey and her mom had had enough! The days of being timid were over.…

Book cover of The Anti-Test Anxiety Society

Noel Foy Why did I love this book?

Julia Cook’s knack for taking on worrisome moments and turning them into fun stories never ceases to amaze me! Bertha Billingsworth (a.k.a. BB) doesn’t like tests. Just hearing the word stresses her out! It’s not until BB becomes a member of the Anti-Test Anxiety Society that she learns new ways of approaching tests.

It begins by BB shifting her thinking from, “I have” to take a test to “I get” to take a test. With this “can do” attitude, BB no longer associates a test as something that’s Terrible Every Single Time and soon realizes she can succeed. This picture book teaches kids how to be more confident at test-taking, so they can really show what they know. Be sure to check out Cook’s Wilma Jean the Worry Machine for more anxiety strategies!

By Julia Cook, Anita Dufalla (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Anti-Test Anxiety Society as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Bertha Billingsworth (BB for short) is basically a happy person... until she has to take a test. To her, the word test stands for Terrible Every Single Time, because that's how she does on them... TERRIBLE!

Whenever I see or hear the word test...

The hair on the back of my neck stands up.

My face turns as red as a beet.

I start to sweat, my stomach aches,

and I can't control my feet!

What if I get every answer wrong?

And I don't get any right.

I just know I'll get a bad grade on this test,


Book cover of The Kissing Hand

Noel Foy Why did I love this book?

Penn’s poignant tale, with its captivating illustrations and powerful message about facing anxious moments, never gets old. Chester the raccoon is worried about leaving his mother and starting school. His mother gently encourages Chester to face his worry by saying, “Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do. Even if they seem strange and scary at first.”

Chester’s mom helps him further cope by sharing an old, wonderful secret called the Kissing Hand that she learned from her mother. This special Kissing Hand gesture reminds Chester of his mother’s love and bolsters him with strength and confidence to face the unknown. This classic, heartwarming story stands the test of time—for a parent dealing with a child facing separation anxiety or anyone stepping into a new or unfamiliar adventure.

By Audrey Penn, Ruth E. Harper (illustrator), Nancy M. Leak (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Kissing Hand 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?

School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. Since its first publication in 1993, this heartwarming book has become a children's classic that has touched the lives of millions of children and their parents, especially at times of separation, whether starting school, entering daycare, or going to camp. It is widely used by kindergarten teachers on the first day of school. Stickers at…

Book cover of King's Day Out: The Car Wash

Noel Foy Why did I love this book?

It’s not uncommon for kids with sensory processing challenges to feel anxious, especially when faced with new adventures. That’s why I’m so excited Maggie and Dr. Amy teamed up to create this endearing, problem-solving picture book designed to empower kids, parents, educators, and pediatric professionals.

Meet King, a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, who has to deal with uncomfortable sights, sounds, and feelings when he and his best friend Ben go to their first car wash. Armed with an “adventure bag” that helps Ben manage his anxiety and sensory differences, Ben shares his tools with King as they bravely face this unknown situation. Ride along with King and Ben as they put Ben’s adventure bag tools to good use, support each other and make an unfamiliar adventure a positive experience.

By Maggie Van Galen, Amy Wheadon, Leslie Beauregard (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King's Day Out 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?

Ride along with King, a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, and his best friend, a boy named Ben, as they go on an adventure to the car wash. The two friends' senses are tested to the limits as King and Ben experience the sights, sounds, smells and feelings associated with this new activity. Ben, a child with sensory differences, shares the tools he's learned in occupational therapy (OT) to help King overcome his fear and anxiety. In the end, King and Ben are proud of themselves for conquering the car wash and excited to head to the park for some playtime!…

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Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

By Edward Benzel,

Book cover of Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

Edward Benzel Author Of Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Coming from the perspective of a neurosurgeon, I have witnessed many successes and failures over more than four decades. I recognized decades ago that communication with patients at a level that involves emotions is a necessary part of being a complete physician. This involves being empathetic and, henceforth, digging deep to find the strength to be transparent, vulnerable, compassionate, understanding, and, when needed, forceful (some would call this paternalism). Although the five books I have chosen to highlight vary widely in content, they have one common theme – finding within us the will and wherewithal to succeed.

Edward's book list on awakening of the strengths that are hidden deep inside each of us

What is my book about?

My book is a collection of monthly Editor-in-Chief letters to the readership of World Neurosurgery, a journal that I edit. Each essay is short and sweet. The letters were written for neurosurgeons but have been re-edited so that they apply to all human beings. They cover topics such as leadership, empathy, vulnerability, stress, burnout, and on and on…. These essays are relevant for all who strive to craft a better version of themselves.

Life lessons learned by the author during his 40+ year neurosurgery career are shared and translated into real-life scenarios. Between the covers are many lessons that are derived from the experiences of the author and then applied to all humans. The mastering of these lessons should translate into a sense of pride and satisfaction. In keeping with the theme of the book, this process should culminate in the feeling at the end of the day that ‘Today was, indeed, a good day.’

Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

By Edward Benzel,

What is this book about?

About the Book
Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon features many topics that pertain to how neurosurgeons interact with others and how each of us can use introspection to modify how we are using tools and strategies such as empathy, respect, stress management, and much more.
This book provides some insights into leadership, effective communication, and fulfillment from the perspective of a neurosurgeon, and it causes the reader to think about and consider many, many attributes of a leader.
We all want to have a good day. This book provides strategies…

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