Overcome Fears With Courage: A Comprehensive List of Picture Books About Anxiety
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.
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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 anxiety and 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. Picture books about anxiety can empower 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.
Different Types of Fears and Anxieties
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…?”
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:
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.
Read Aaalligator to discuss social justice, empathy, kindness, loneliness, acceptance and inferring.
After the Fall by Dan Santat
A fresh retelling of the classic Humpty Dumpty story told from the egg's perspective. Humpty Dumpty bravely faces his fear of heights, teaching us about courage, overcoming adversity, and the importance of self-esteem.
After the Fall promotes discussions around character traits, perspectives, and a growth mindset. It encourages students to understand and embrace their fears, foster adaptability, and celebrate resilience.
Anne Frank by Josephine Poole
During the Nazi occupation of Holland, all Jewish people had to wear yellow stars to identify them. Anne Frank 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
Black Dog takes us to a family home where a large black dog grows in size and menace, causing fear among the family members. Yet, the smallest one shows immense courage and open-mindedness to discover the truth about the dog.
Engage your students in discussions about overcoming fears, taking risks, and not letting fear control our perception. Encourage them to conquer their fears and take on challenges bravely.
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 Butterfly Brain to discuss memories, grief, fears, self-reflection, love, and self-management.
The Dark by Lemony Snicket
Lazlo fears the dark, which appears to live in his basement. When his nightlight burns out, the dark invites him to venture into the scary depths of the basement. As Lazlo confronts his fears, he discovers the dark leads him towards a drawer and discovers facing fears can lead to unexpected solutions.
The Dark encourages discussions in your classroom on overcoming fears, taking risks, building confidence, and persevering in adversity.
The Day War Came by Nicola Davies
A resilient girl navigates a world torn apart by conflict. After being rejected from a school, she finds hope in the empathetic gesture of a young boy – offering her a chair, a place to learn and belong.
The Day War Came illustrates the harsh realities faced by children impacted by war, highlighting the struggles of immigration, the strength in perseverance, and the courage that stems from resilience.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
The Day You Begin sheds light on the importance of sharing our personal stories, expressing that we all sometimes feel like outsiders. Yet, it's this courage to be ourselves that truly connects us.
Use this book to facilitate discussions on empathy, identity, a sense of belonging, a growth mindset, open-mindedness, relationship skills, self-awareness, and self-esteem.