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9 Books To Help Children Understand Anxiety

All kids worry and, as a parent, you want to take those worries away. Whether it's over the first day of school, staying overnight at a grandparent's house, or getting a shot, even the most unflappable kids are going to experience fears. When you want to alleviate your kids' anxieties, your knee-jerk reaction might be to dismiss it. I can say from personal experience, however, that having someone tell you not to worry does nothing to help. Especially because your child might understand what they are feeling. Luckily, there are books to help children understand anxiety and make it easier for them to not only cope with their own issues, but to understand friends who may be experiencing it.

Kids don't always have the words to discuss they're feelings. Reading books, however, is a great way to start the conversation, and to reassure your child that their fears are normal and surmountable. The following books are not only great conversation starters, but great stories that kids of all ages will enjoy. They will help your child feel less alone in their worries and even get some idea how to address them, overcome them, and come out the other side braver and happier. Knowing that the butterflies they might feel during a new situation is normal can be very reassuring.


'School's First Day Of School' by Adam Rex

There are many books about the first day of school, but School's First Day of School stands out because it's from the school's perspective. The story is told from the perspective of a brand new school who doesn't know what to expect, or even what a school is. Once the students arrive, he finds their presence and all the sounds and sights to be overwhelming. Once he gets the idea, however, he realizes that being a school is actually pretty great.


'The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes' by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein

Everyone knows Beatrice Bottomwell as the girl who never makes any mistakes — ever. But when a mistake almost happens, it rattles her to the point that she is overcome with worry that she'll screw up big time. The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes shows kids that being perfect is overrated and it's OK to make mistakes.


'Sophie's Fish' by A.E. Cannon

Sophie's Fish is a beautifully illustrated story about when little worries snowball into big fears. Jake thinks watching Sophie's fish won't be that difficult, but then he begins to imagine all the things that could go wrong. Some of his fears are absurd and hilarious, but he worries just the same.


'Ish' by Peter H. Reynolds

Ramon loves nothing more than to draw, but he feels totally blocked when his older brother laughs at his drawings for not looking how they "should." In Ish, Ramon has to overcome his worries of perfectionism to rediscover the thing he loves most.


'Noni Is Nervous' by Heather Hartt-Sussman

Noni worries about everything, and her parents and grandmother just don't get it. But when she has to cope with school stress in Noni Is Nervous , she's able to show her loved ones what it means to be anxious.


'Justin Case: School, Drool And Other Daily Disasters' by Rachel Vail

The Justin Case books feature a wonderful character who is introverted, anxious, sensitive, and hilarious. His witty and self-deprecating journal entries detail all manner of third-grade worries (and how he copes with them) that all kids will understand.


'Frazzled: Everyday Disasters And Impending Doom' by Booki Vivat

Frazzled is a self-deprecating and laugh-out-loud funny account of Abbie Wu, who worries more than your average kids. The book shows what it's like to expect disaster at every turn, but finding yourself along the way.


'Courage For Beginners' by Karen Harrington

Mysti has a lot on her plate. When her father has to be in the hospital, she's left with her extremely agoraphobic mother. All her life Mysti has learned to be afraid, and suddenly she has to be really, really brave. Courage For Beginners is a realistic, but hopeful look at what it's like to have your life affected by mental illness.


'The Thing About Jellyfish' by Ali Benjamin

The Thing About Jellyfish follows Suzy as she tries to come to terms with her friend's accidental death. This compassionate bookdepicts the stresses and worries of a grieving child.