The most recommended books about fear

Who picked these books? Meet our 71 experts.

71 authors created a book list connected to fear, and here are their favorite fear books.
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What type of fear book?


Book cover of I'm a Shark

Constance Lombardo Author Of Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork

From my list on hysterically funny picture books.

Who am I?

I’ve worked with kids in preschools and elementary schools, (plus I’m a mom!) and to me, nothing is better than hearing kids laugh. I also just adore picture books and treasure my personal library, with its focus on (you guessed it!) humor. Sassy cats, bears who want to have kids for pets, chickens who interrupt, alphabets overrun by frustrated Zebras, picture books bravely go where other books might only tiptoe in a cowardly fashion—into the world of wild imagination and anthropomorphized everything. With amazing artwork!! Let’s be honest, I’ll choose funny picture books over War and Peace every time.

Constance's book list on hysterically funny picture books

Constance Lombardo Why did Constance love this book?

Shark is a totally awesome shark. And that must mean he isn’t afraid of anything, right? Right! Shark is not scared of dinosaurs or bears or the dark! He loves talking about how fearless he is (after making sure there are no spiders nearby.) Shark and I have one thing in common, and I’m not going to say what it is, but… can someone tell me if there’s a spider nearby? (Run away!!) Cartoon-y and super fun illustrations help make this a very enjoyable, hysterical read-aloud! 

By Bob Shea,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I'm a Shark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shark's not afraid of anything. The dark? Nah. A big mean bear? Don't make him laugh! But there is one thing that even Shark fears...Can you guess what it is?

Book cover of The Pigeon Has to Go to School

Ethlie Ann Vare Author Of WOOF!

From my list on reads I wish were around when I was a kid.

Who am I?

I’m a Boomer. I was expected to read books about well-behaved children (Fun with Dick and Jane, 1940) or happy animals (The Poky Little Puppy, 1942), or going to bed quietly (Goodnight Moon, 1947). Why do you think my cohort has so much love for Dr. Seuss? The Cat in the Hat (1957) was a brat, and kids love a brat. The rhymes were smart, and kids need smart. Today, I get to read books to my grandkids that have edge, and books that don’t talk down to them. They deserve it, they won’t settle for less, and it’s a hell of a lot more fun for me.

Ethlie's book list on reads I wish were around when I was a kid

Ethlie Ann Vare Why did Ethlie love this book?

Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus is the better known in this series of funny, adorably illustrated books, but I think Pigeon Has to Go to School really gets to the heart of why Pigeon is so beloved by kids: He embodies kid-ness.

He’s defiant and bratty and scared and anxious and excited and impatient and distractible and everything else that is lovable and crazy-making about your daughter/son/grandchild.

An easy read for young kids and fun to read to them.

By Mo Willems,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Pigeon Has to Go to School 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?

Mo Willems' Pigeon is BACK in a hilarious story perfect for those about to start school or nursery.

"There is no such thing as a bad Mo Willems book" The Times

The Pigeon is about to get SCHOOLED. Do YOU think he should go?

Why does the Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything! Well ... almost everything. And what if he doesn't like it? What if the teacher doesn't like him? I mean, what if he learns TOO MUCH!?!

Book cover of Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear

Bethany Ball Author Of The Pessimists

From my list on surviving or being obliterated by domestic life.

Who am I?

Although I was raised without a religion, for more than half my life I’ve been involved in meditation and yogic communities. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly 

Bethany's book list on surviving or being obliterated by domestic life

Bethany Ball Why did Bethany love this book?

If you are a Gen Xer like me and you wax nostalgia about the freedom of the mothers of your childhood vs. the shackles of parenting in the early twenty-first century as I have, Kim Brooks’ book is for you. Kim made the most grievous error a parent can make today: she left her four-year-old in her minivan in the parking lot of a rural Target so she could quickly grab an item. Though her child was fine, someone called the police. This event sent Kim down a rabbit hole to find out: is the American childhood as dangerous as people think? Her remarkable, thought-provoking book argues that childhood is remarkably safe, children should be exploring their environs, and some form of free-range parenting for many parents and kids should be the norm rather than the exception. This has been my philosophy since having children, and I was happy to…

By Kim Brooks,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Small Animals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One cool spring morning, Kim Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year-old son in the car while she ran into a store. What happened would consume the next several years of her life and ultimately motivated her to begin writing about the broader subject of parenthood and fear. In Small Animals, Brooks asks, Of all the emotions inherent in parenting, is there any more universal or profound than fear? To be a parent is to be afraid. And yet, the objects and intensity of our fear vary based on culture, temperament, and the historical moment in which we…

Book cover of Psssst! It's Me...The Bogeyman

Scott Menchin Author Of Wiggle

From my list on for funny and artistic young children.

Who am I?

As a curious Pratt Institute art school professor and loving parent of a daughter who has also written and/or illustrated sixteen children’s books I want to share my favorite books with other children’s book connoisseurs. It also helps that I have lots of opinions. Too many to count. And when someone actually wants to listen to my opinions I get very excited. I’m hoping one of my favorites becomes one of your favorites. 

Scott's book list on for funny and artistic young children

Scott Menchin Why did Scott love this book?

This book is illustrated by an artist friend and I also used to read this book to my daughter. But this time with the accent of a Bogeyman. A deep scary voice.

The writing is smart and flows gracefully as the author teaches us about the true nature of scary things that lurk in the night.  

By Barbara Park, Stephen Kroninger (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Psssst! It's Me...The Bogeyman 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?

Written in the first-person voice of a creepy-crawly, blood-chilling, spine-tingling Bogeyman who lives under the bed, a novelist's debut picture book reveals the scary guy's secrets in order to clear his name.

Book cover of There Might Be Lobsters

Lisa Katzenberger Author Of It Will Be OK: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship

From my list on 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.

Lisa's book list on facing your fears

Lisa Katzenberger Why did Lisa 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…

Book cover of The Boy with a Bird in His Chest

Alle C. Hall Author Of As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back

From Alle's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Survivor Mother Joyful Author Traveler

Alle's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Alle C. Hall Why did Alle love this book?

This novel is wildly weird and wonderful, perfectly logical, and positive as well as painful.

I know Lund. She means a bird-in-the-chest literally, rather than a metaphor for gender transition. The main character, Owen Tanner, is hidden by his mother to keep him safe from dystopian powers-that-be. As a young teen, Owen knows: it’s live fully or die. He sets out to live.

When Owen runs away, his physical journey becomes emotional. My favorite kind of book!! Cis-gender, trans, queer, non-binary, inter-sex; sexuality and gender are not (only) what is going to make you love this novel. The Boy with a Bird in His Chest is for everyone who wants to feel, learn, weep, giggle, maybe pray, and luxuriate in a most festive imagination. 

By Emme Lund,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Boy with a Bird in His Chest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Longlisted for The Center for Fiction 2022 First Novel Prize

"A modern coming-of-age full of love, desperation, heartache, and magic" (Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author) about "the ways in which family, grief, love, queerness, and vulnerability all intersect" (Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author). Perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Thirty Names of Night.

Though Owen Tanner has never met anyone else who has a chatty bird in their chest, medical forums would call him a Terror. From the moment Gail emerged between Owen's ribs, his mother knew that she had to…

Book cover of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Matt Jardine Author Of How to be a Buddhist Millionaire: 9 practical steps to being happy in a materialist world

From my list on making an abundant living doing work you love.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by human potential for as long as I can remember. As a youth, my passion manifested in physical skills, pursuing a career in professional tennis, then in martial arts, for example. In my twenties, my interest included the mental and ‘spiritual’ side of life, too. Later, a young family needing to be fed forced me to consider yet another area of life to ‘master’: work and business. With so much of our lives spent in the workplace (a third), it seemed the perfect environment to test all that I had learnt about pushing the boundaries of human potential; mind, body, emotions, and spirit.

Matt's book list on making an abundant living doing work you love

Matt Jardine Why did Matt love this book?

This is a book I read almost thirty years ago after struggling with confidence following a street attack in my teens. I still dip in and out of it today, albeit for very different guidance.

It may seem strange to some that I have picked books that put so much emphasis on ‘mind-work’ to help one achieve the goal of not only enjoying work so much they leap out of bed in the morning to it, but that also provides an abundant living. Yet, my years of successes and failures have taught me that the mind is the missing link in doing so.

I love the work I do and the life that it affords, and I would love for that to be your experience, too.

Enjoy my picks.

By Susan Jeffers,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Internationally renowned author, Susan Jeffers, has helped millions of people around the globe to overcome their fears and heal the pain in their lives. Such fears may include:

Public speaking; Asserting yourself; Making decisions; Intimacy; Changing jobs; Being alone; Ageing; Driving; Losing a loved one; Ending a relationship.

But whatever your anxieties, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway will give you the insight and tools to vastly improve your ability to handle any given situation. You will learn to live your life the way you want - so you can move from a place of pain, paralysis and depression…

Book cover of Fear Not! How to Face Your Fear and Anxiety Head-On

Karla Clark Author Of Three Ways to Be Brave: A Trio of Stories

From my list on children’s books about bravery.

Who am I?

The best parts of my life have come when I was brave: getting married, having children, embarking on a career. The worst parts of my life have been mitigated by being brave: losing friends and relatives, dealing with illness and disability among family members. A huge part of raising my son who has autism was helping him to be brave. I've always admired brave people. Not daring or reckless, but truly brave. I've found that all the great stories include an element of bravery! I wrote my picture book as a way to help young children navigate the path to courage and resilience. I’m also the co-founder of National Be Brave Day.

Karla's book list on children’s books about bravery

Karla Clark Why did Karla love this book?

All kids deal with fears and all parents and caregivers want to shield them from them. But I learned as a mom that I couldn’t shield my kids from hurts. But I could help them develop their own shield—by teaching them how to confront their fears and equipping them with the tools they needed to deal with the inevitable stressors they would encounter in life. My older son, practical and scientific, would have loved this book! In this uplifting, rhyming story, Christina Furnival, a licensed mental health therapist and mom, presents a practical three-step lesson to help kids manage their worries, regain their cool, and strip fear of its power once and for all. I sure wish I had this book 30 years ago!

By Christina Furnival, Katie Dwyer (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fear Not! How to Face Your Fear and Anxiety Head-On as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Fear Not! helps kids understand their anxiety and provides tools kids can try right away.” ―Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, coauthor of The Whole-Brain Child

How can I help my child overcome their fear and anxiety?

What skills can I teach my child to cope with scary “what if” thoughts?

How can I help them grow more confident when their worries seem so big?

Christina Furnival, a licensed mental health therapist and mom, answers these questions in this empowering and uplifting rhyming story about a young boy who successfully faces his anxiety and fear head-on. In Fear Not!, children will learn…

Book cover of Buster the Little Garbage Truck

Linda Whalen Author Of Little Red Rolls Away

From my list on dealing with emotions and change.

Who am I?

Often, people don’t understand the emotions of a child. The care and keeping of children have been my life focus as a mother of five, 4-H leader, Kindergarten aide, religious education teacher, and owner of Whalen’s Country Childcare. I hold dear the awe and wonder seen in the eyes of a child and hope to forever be inspired by the sight. Since my new book, Little Red Rolls Away was released, I have presented at schools, libraries, appeared in newspapers, magazines, and been featured on CBS Good Day Sacramento. Endorsements include filmmaker Joey Travolta, Founder and Creative Director, Inclusion Films, a company that aims to teach the art of filmmaking to people with developmental disabilities.

Linda's book list on dealing with emotions and change

Linda Whalen Why did Linda love this book?

Loud noises often cause children to cover their ears but sometimes it scares them into a corner.  Buster wants to be the best garbage truck and work with his father. He practiced every skill he would need and mastered them all, except one. He was afraid of loud noises, especially air horns! Buster tried not being afraid, but it just didn’t work. He finally broke his fear when his friend was in danger. One of my favorite parts of this book showcases that sometimes fear isn’t rational. It just is. Another is when Buster took his thoughts off his fear to help his friend, he found he could become a great garbage truck.

By Marcia Berneger, Kevin Zimmer (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Buster the Little Garbage Truck 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?

Buster is a sweet little garbage truck. He can't wait to grow up to be a big truck, just like his father. Buster practices driving and lifting and beeping with his friend, Kitty. There's one small problem. Loud noises frighten Buster. When his father takes him to the truck yard to meet the other vehicles, their air-horn blasts and roaring engines send Buster skidding away to hide. He wants to be big and brave, but how can he work with Daddy and his friends when their loud sounds scare him? Buster feels terrible. When Kitty gets into trouble, little Buster…

Book cover of Mastering Your Mean Girl: The No-BS Guide to Silencing Your Inner Critic and Becoming Wildly Wealthy, Fabulously Healthy, and Bursting with Love

Lindsay Sealey Author Of Growing Strong Girls: Practical Tools to Cultivate Connection in the Preteen Years

From my list on raising girls to be confident and strong.

Who am I?

I am passionate about one thing: growing strong girls and books that help parents and care providers support their girls. Girls who are strong have self-belief and value. They are much less likely to struggle with mental health concerns, become addicted to social media, and be obsessed with their appearance and what others think about them. Strong girls are much more likely to be brave and bold and take chances, cultivate healthy relationships, and feel happy and healthy so they can pursue their passions and discover their purpose.

Lindsay's book list on raising girls to be confident and strong

Lindsay Sealey Why did Lindsay love this book?

A fabulous look at the inner critic in all of us telling us we are not smart enough, pretty enough, and good enough – and how to silence the critic to become more kind, compassionate, and loving. This book is filled with practical strategies to try.

By Melissa Ambrosini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mastering Your Mean Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Book Authority's Best Self-Esteem eBooks of All Time

Ready to live your dream life?

You know that sneaky voice inside your head telling you that you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, whatever enough? That’s your Mean Girl. And she’s doing her best to keep you stuck in Fear Town, too scared to go after the life you always imagined.
But enough’s enough! Melissa Ambrosini has made a life beyond her wildest dreams, all by mastering her Mean Girl, busting through limiting beliefs and karate-chopping through the fears that held her hostage for years. And now she…