Help your students learn about facing their fears with courage and compassion by reading these picture books about anxiety. Your class can explore personal emotions and build comfort in discussing their feelings.
Why Read Picture Books about Anxiety and Fears?
Through vivid illustrations and inspiring narratives, picture books about anxiety and fears can provide comfort and guidance and offer concrete strategies for tackling difficult circumstances or feelings.
Fear is a normal and necessary emotion; by introducing it in picture books, you can better equip your students to face it. Through this approach, we can help them feel empowered, normalise their feelings, and find the courage to face their fears.
Picture books about facing fears can help your student learn how to cope with their fears.
Picture books can help normalise fear
Your students will see everyone feels afraid sometimes, even their favourite characters. This can help them feel less alone in their fear and more understood. This type of narrative can empower young readers who may be struggling with similar issues by demonstrating that even those who are fearful can succeed in reaching their goals.
Picture books can provide a safe space to explore fear
Through stories, children can explore different aspects of their fear, helping them understand and process their feelings and learn new ways of coping with their fear.
Picture books can teach coping strategies
Many picture books about facing fears include characters using different techniques to deal with anxiety. This can give your students some ideas of what might work for them and help them find a strategy that works best for them. Using vivid visuals, creative characters, and compelling narrative arcs can help your students learn valuable coping strategies for managing anxiety or distress.
Picture books can offer hope
Seeing a book character overcome fear by taking small steps or trying something new despite being scared. This type of narrative helps children realise that it is possible to confront fear if they have the courage and determination to do so.
Fear comes in many forms, especially when considering school-related fears, anxieties and worries. I did a quick brainstorm of school-related fears, many of which you will find in the suggested children's books about anxiety:
- speaking in front of the class
- the unknown
- making new friends
- starting a new school
- noisy places
- older children
- looking foolish
- language barriers
- separation from parents
- moving to a new home/country
- breaking the rules
- conflict with others
- being teased or bullied
- social interactions
- standing up for yourself
- thinking “what if…?”
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Picture Books about Anxiety and Fears
We become fearful when we feel threatened. These feelings keep us safe from danger but can prevent us from trying new things. In these suggested picture books about anxiety, your students will see characters who:
- Show a growth mindset despite their concerns and fears.
- Realise the reality is better than they first thought.
- Build self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Understand they are not alone, and they can ask for help.
- Understand they will always have worries and fears, but there are coping strategies.
AAAlligator! by Judith Henderson
A boy overcomes his fears to get to know and make friends with a lonely alligator. The townsfolk are not so accepting, and the mayor insists it is driven out of town. Once the community sees the kind and helpful side of the alligator, they help it hide from the mayor.
Use to discuss social justice, empathy, kindness, loneliness, acceptance and inferring.
After the Fall by Dan Santat
A retelling of Humpty Dumpty from the egg’s perspective. Promotes perspectives, a growth mindset, perseverance, and courage as Humpty Dumpty conquers his fear of heights.
Anne Frank by Josephine Poole
Learn about Anne Frank's life from birth to being taken by the Nazis. During the Nazi occupation of Holland, all Jewish people had to wear yellow stars to identify them. Anne and her family had to live in a small attic, unable to leave. This is where Anne wrote her inspiring diary. The Nazis took Anne and her family, with only her father surviving, who was left with Anne's diary.
Read Anne Frank to promote discussions on courage, fears, effects of war, writing, tolerance, discrimination, resilience, perception and the holocaust.
Black Dog by Levi Pinfold
A family is afraid of a large black dog outside their home. As they each spy a dog through their window, it grows in size and menace. It is the smallest member of the family who discovers the dog is not what the rest of the family imagined.
A book to promote a growth mindset, open-mindedness, risk-taking and courage.
Butterfly Brain by Laura Dockrill
Gus doesn’t listen to adults, and after being told not to lean back in his chair, he falls and cracks his head. Out of the crack escapes memories of his mother. He realises he has been hiding his emotions about his mother’s death.
Read to discuss memories, grief, fears, self-reflection, love, and self-management.
The Dark by Lemony Snicket
The dark frightens Lazlo. The dark beckons him to come to the basement when his nightlight goes out. Lazlo tentatively goes into the basement, where he thinks dark lives, and the dark leads Lazlo to a drawer full of light bulbs.
Promotes confidence, risk-taking, perseverance and overcoming fears.
The Day War Came by Nicola Davies
A girl returns home to find a bombed-out hole. Alone, she follows a stream of refugees to an immigration camp. She visits a school but is turned away because there is no chair for her. That evening she is visited by a boy who brings a chair with him – a chair to sit on and learn.
Reinforces themes of courage, fears, immigration, perseverance and tolerance.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
The Day You Begin considers the difficulty of entering a room where you don’t know anyone. We are “an only” until we share our personal stories in these situations. Woodson reminds us that we are all outsiders, and it takes courage to be ourselves.
Read to promote discussions on empathy, identity, growth mindset, open-mindedness, relationship skills, self-awareness and self-esteem.
The Dreadful Fluff by Aaron Blabey
Serenity Strainer fights her fears to save her family from the dreadful (belly button) fluff, along with courage and a vacuum cleaner.
Read to discuss confidence, courage, and overcoming fears.
Ella and the Waves by Britta Teckentrup
This is the first of two picture books about anxiety by Britta Teckentrup. Ella sits alone in a boat, battling high waves. When a voice from beneath the water tells her she has to sail through the high waves, Ella is afraid. But there are other voices, voices of encouragement. A white bird, a pod of porpoises and a gentle whale help Ella face her fears with courage. When the seas calm, she sees other boats all travelling in the same direction as her, heading to new possibilities.
Read Ella and the Waves to promote discussions on encouragement, hope, courage, loneliness, and overcoming fears.
I Go Quiet by David Ouimet
In a dystopian-looking place, a shy girl struggles in the world of noise. She sees herself as insignificant and finds solace in the pages of books. ‘When I read, I know there is a world beneath my branches.’ In her imagination, her words are powerful, and she realises that when she finds the courage, her words will have meaning in the real world.
Gustavo, the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago
Gustavo is a shy and timid ghost who is invisible to others, no matter how hard he tries to make friends. He overcomes his fears and makes new friends by inviting everyone to his violin concert on the Day of the Dead.
Into the Forest by Anthony Browne
This is the first of three children's books about anxiety by Anthony Browne. A boy visits his grandma by travelling through the forest, against his mum’s instructions. He meets fairy tale characters in strange circumstances. Afraid, he runs to his grandma’s house, where he finds a surprise.
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is determined to jump off the diving board, but his confidence wanes as he nears the ladder. His patient father reassures Jabari that it is okay to be scared. With new determination, he climbs the ladder and jumps.
The Kiosk by Anete Melece
Translated from Latvian. Olga is stuck in her kiosk, physically and metaphorically. Her daily routine involves talking with customers and selling magazines, snacks and drinks. In the evening, she lives in her kiosk and dreams of living someplace exciting with a sunset. The next morning, an accident causes Olga and her kiosk to float to a new home with a sunset and a new business.
Discuss overcoming fears, following our dreams, and embracing change.
The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright
This is the first of two picture books about anxiety by Rachel Bright. Kevin the Koala hates change as the consequences scare him. It is only when a woodpecker disturbs his steady way of life that Kevin has no choice but to make a big change, beginning an exciting new chapter in his life.
A book about self-management, courage and perseverance.
Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead
Peter moves to a new house in a dark, unfriendly wood. He makes imaginary protectors, Lenny and Lucy, from a tall pile of pillows, blankets and string. Feeling safer, Peter meets his next-door neighbour, Millie, and discovers that his new home is not as dangerous as he imagined.
Life Doesn't Frighten Me by Maya Angelou
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou is a poem about bravery, confronting our fears, and finding courage within. Told from a child’s perspective. Use to teach how words and art tell a story, fears, facing challenges and self-management.
Like a Wolf by Géraldine Elschner
A dog chained up in a rescue centre tells the reader it is lonely and sad. Everyone fears the dog, but he just wants to be free. One day, a man comes to the centre and sees potential in the dog. He takes the dog home to become a sheepdog. The dog lives up to its potential and flourishes in its new home.
Read Like a Wolf to promote discussions on assumptions, making judgements, tolerance, fears, perception, loneliness, point of view, belonging, freedom and decoding illustrations.
The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright
This is the second of two picture books about anxiety by Rachel Bright. A timid mouse makes himself heard after being ignored by other animals. The mouse realises that first impressions are not always what they seem as he develops a new friendship.
Promotes risk-taking, courage, independence and self-awareness.
The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason
A little ghost is a quilt. It can’t whirl and whirl in the sky because it gets very hot each time it flies. It feels very left out when it can’t keep up with its friends. One Halloween, the lonely little quilt finds its place in the world and makes new friends.
Read The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt to start discussions on individuality, belonging, self-acceptance and overcoming challenges.
Little Mouse and the Red Wall by Britta Teckentrup
This is the second of two picture books about anxiety by Britta Teckentrup. Little Mouse, Scaredy Cat, Old Bear, Laughing Fox, and Lion Who Had Lost His Roar live in a grey village surrounded by a large red wall. The thought of what is beyond the wall fills cat, bear and lion with fear. Mouse filled with curiosity and courage, steps beyond the wall, finding a world of beauty and freedom.
Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett
A shy little mouse documents his long list of fears, from loud noises and the dark to being sucked down the plughole and, of course, cats. The mouse gnaws at his pencil in fear, and it gets shorter and shorter as its list of phobias grows. The mouse draws pictures of its fear, but does it realise that there is something afraid of him?
Read Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears to promote discussions on courage, fears, point of view, self-awareness and phobia vocabulary.
Me and My Fear by Francesca Sanna
A girl’s fear and anxiety grow when she moves to a new country. She feels isolated and worries about making new friends because of the language barrier. Her anxiety eases when she finds a new friend who has his own fears.
Use to discuss coping with change and anxiety, immigration, fears, and making friends.
My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussain
A big, furry, yellow monster follows a little boy everywhere. It has an enormous impact on the boy, stopping him from doing so many things. One day, he confides in his grandma about his worries and the monster shrinks. The more he shares his fears, the smaller it gets, setting the boy free to live his life.
Promotes overcoming fears, seeking help, well-being and self-management.
My Name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin
When Bilal moves he worries about being teased for being Muslim. He thinks about telling his new classmates he is called Bill and not telling them about his religion. A Muslim teacher helps Bilal and his sister settle in by giving them a book about Bilal Ibn Rabah, another Bilal who struggled with his identity.
Nenek Tata and the Mangrove Menace by Judith Vun Price
In Sabah, Malaysia, Nenek Tata sets off to accomplish her daily chores before the first storm of the monsoon season arrives. She sends her husband, Nenek Jantan, to the shops before the rain arrives. In the mangroves, she comes across a terrifying monster. When the rain reveals the monster's true nature, it is not what she expected.
Read Nenek Tata and the Mangrove Menace to promote discussions on facing fears, resilience, setting, folktales, Malaysian culture, language and environment.
Norm by Sylvia Liang
Norm and his friends, Plain and Simple, like their orderly world where everything is exactly the same. One day, he meets Odd, who lives in a world of chaos, causing Norm to feel anxious and unsettled. He soon realises that Odd’s way of living inspires self-expression and creativity, and Norm starts to let go of the rules.
Read to discuss overcoming fears, being balanced, individuality, open-mindedness, and personal freedom.
The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho
Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo, a free diver who plucks treasures from the sea, just like her Grandma. On Jeju Island, generations of Korean women have dived into the waters. Dayeon puts on her diving suit, flippers and goggles and follows her Grandma to the sea. Initially, Dayeon clings to the shore, but her Grandma encourages her to dive with her.
Read The Ocean Calls to promote discussions on courage, fears, encouragement, appreciation, strong women, traditions, community and intergenerational relationships.
Parachute by Danny Parker
Toby has a great fear of heights and he always carries a bright orange parachute. When his cat gets stuck in a tree, Toby follows and uses the parachute to rescue it. The problem is that Toby is now stuck in the tree. Can he face his fears and get down?
Read to discuss self-management, facing our fears, courage and self-esteem.
Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang
After being arrested, Tai Shan was separated from his father during China's Cultural Revolution. They find a creative way of greeting each other by flying kites every day until his father is freed. Promotes relationship skills, hope, resilience and fears.
Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
Ruby has a Worry. It wasn’t very big, but it stayed with her all day, so she stopped doing the things she loved. She finds that discussing her worry makes it smaller until it is almost gone. Though the Worry appears every now and again, Ruby knows how to get rid of them.
Read to discuss adaptability, self-awareness, self-management and self-esteem.
The Seed of Doubt by Irena Brignull
A young boy has big dreams for his future. When a bird drops a tiny seed into the boy's hand, he plants it. As the seed grows into a tree, the boy's doubts grow, and he stops thinking about his dreams for the future. His father encourages him to climb the tree. Despite his doubts, the boy continues to the top of the tree and realises he can achieve anything.
Read The Seed of Doubt to promote discussions on following dreams, overcoming fears, a growth mindset, courage, perseverance and supportive parents.
Singing Away the Dark by Caroline Woodward
A brave girl narrates how she walks a mile to the school bus stop daily. She travels through the morning darkness with sights and sounds that frighten her. Instead of being afraid, she sings away the dark and her fears. Use to discuss courage, fears and resilience.
The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman
Fish and Snail live together in the pages of a book and can travel from book to book. Snail stays and waits for Fish to describe the stories from the other books. They argue when Snail refuses to join him. Fish swims away into a new book, and Snail confronts her fears to reunite with Fish.
There’s a Bug on My Arm that Won’t Let Go by David Mackintosh
A little bug finds safety on a little girl's arm, or so it thinks. The girl feels annoyed and frustrated when the bug doesn't let go. As she gets to know the tiny insect, these feelings slowly move to affection.
Read There's a Bug on My Arm that Won't Let Go to promote new friendships, kindness, caring, curiosity, fears and asking questions.
The Thing Lou Couldn't Do by Ashley Spires
Lou procrastinates and makes excuses rather than face her fears. With the support of her friends, she develops a growth mindset to overcome the challenges she faces.
The Tunnel by Anthony Browne
This is the second of three children's books about anxiety by Anthony Browne. Two siblings discover a tunnel. The brother rushes in, dismissing his sister’s fears. When he doesn't return, she finds the courage to follow him.
Promotes themes of facing our fears, cooperation, curiosity, responsibility and being a risk-taker.
The Visitor by Antje Damm
One day a blue paper aeroplane flies through Elsie's window. Hearing a knock at the door, she opens it to a boy asking for his plane. An unexpected friendship develops and brings colour and light to Elsie’s lonely life.
Read to discuss overcoming fears, cause & effect, relationship skills and risk-taking.
The Wall by Jessie James
Tom loves to explore until he hears adults talking about the monsters living in the world. He becomes too scared to explore anymore, and the adults build a wall to keep out the monsters. Life soon becomes dreary. When a colourful message comes over the wall, Tom starts exploring again and persuades the adults there is nothing to be afraid of.
Use to discuss fears, risk-taking, curiosity, inclusion, and asking questions.
The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee
A knight protects himself from the dangers on the other side of a wall. But he is too busy worrying about the unknown that he doesn't see the dangers on his own side of the wall.
This Amnesty recommended book promotes discussions on fears, tolerance and conflict.
Wallpaper by Thao Lam
A young girl is too shy to approach other children when she moves to a new house. She picks at the layers of wallpaper in her bedroom and discovers a mysterious world. She plays with imaginary friends and is chased by a monster she finds is not to be feared. Back in her bedroom, she has the courage to say hello to the children playing outside.
What If…? by Anthony Browne
This is the third of three children's books about anxiety by Anthony Browne. Joe is nervous about attending a birthday party and imagines all sorts of “what ifs” scenarios. As he arrives, he realises he has nothing to worry about. This book reinforces the themes of overcoming our fears, confidence and being a risk-taker.
When The Wind Came by Jan Andrews
What starts as a typical day for a girl on her family farm becomes something extraordinary. The wind blows harder and harder, and the girl and her family pile into their root cellar. They sit in silence as the storm rages above them. When they finally emerge, they find their home has gone. Despite the devastation, the family find a way to keep going.
Read When The Wind Came to promote discussions on hope, loss, fears, point of view, resilience, inner strength, memories and making connections.
Picture Books can provide students with the opportunity to confront and come to terms with the fears they face. By reading these stories, you are arming your students with the tools they need to develop the courage, insight, and resilience to face any challenges they may encounter.
Anxiety is a common mental health issue in children and adults alike. Children can feel empowered and more in control of their emotions by reading picture books about anxiety, leading to improved mental health.
1 thought on “Overcome Fears With Courage: A Comprehensive List of Picture Books About Anxiety”
Thanks so much for sharing all of the awesome info! I am looking forward to checking out more posts!