We all know about the many benefits of reading to children.
We know how it promotes brain development, sparks their imagination, develops early literacy skills, increases their communication and social skills and of course helps strengthen your relationship.
Did you know reading can also benefit children with anxiety issues? There are many books for children that can help them deal with their worries and anxieties.
They can help assure them they’re not alone, they can give them strategies to deal with their anxiety and they can also help start a conversation about the child’s worries.
Here are some of the best books you can read to a child with anxiety or worries.
13 books to read to an anxious child
by Danny Parker and Matt Ottley
Toby is a little boy who sees the world as quite a scary place. He always wears a parachute, because he thinks it keeps him safe. One day Toby does not have his parachute and he must learn to manage without it.
This is a beautiful book about being brave and about how it is possible to overcome your fears.
by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker
Starting School follows five young children as they start school for the first time. The five children have different feelings and experiences surrounding their first day.
A wonderful Australian book perfect for reading to children who may be worried about starting school themselves.
You might also want to check out First Day by Andrew Daddo and Jonathan Bentley (Illustrations) or if you have older children who are worried about returning to school (especially if their friends aren’t in the same class) track down Old Friends, New Friends also by Andrew Daddo and Jonathan Bentley.
It’s OK to Feel the Way You Do
by Josh Langley
This bright, fun book by Australian author Josh Langley helps children identify their feelings and teaches them that feelings are normal.
It also gives them strategies to help them cope with negative feelings. Children who are feeling anxious, for example, are told to remember that it is OK to feel anxious sometimes and to find someone to talk to about how they’re feeling.
Also check out Being You is Enough also by Josh Langley, which talks about confidence and self-esteem.
by Anna Walker
Bill is having one of those days and that’s when Mr Huff starts to follow him around. Mr Huff is not easy to get rid of and he’s hard to ignore. Worst of all he keeps getting bigger. Will Mr Huff follow Bill forever?
This is such a beautifully wise book by award-winning Australian author and illustrator Anna Walker. It is about how little worries build up, how ignoring worries won’t make them disappear and how recognising worries can help you deal with them. Wonderfully optimistic.
In My Heart: A Book of Feelings
by Jo Witek and Christine Roussey
The little girl in this fun cut-out book describes in beautiful age-appropriate detail exactly what it feels like to be happy, calm sad, hopeful, proud, shy and much more.
This book shows children that it is perfectly normal to feel a range of emotions. It gives names to the emotions children experience. It helps children understand that even though some emotions are negative they are not permanent and that there is always hope.
It’s also a great conversation starter and gives children the opportunity and the words to talk about their own feelings.
My Strong Mind
by Niels Van Hove
Kate is a sporty, happy young girl who uses her strong mind to help her through all the challenges she faces each day.
This book is about developing confidence, resilience, a positive attitude and a growth mindset. And it doesn’t just teach your child about these things it gives them the words and tools to develop them themselves.
Sarah and the Steep Slope
by Danny Parker and Matt Ottley
Sarah is a young girl who wakes up one morning to find a steep slope trapping her in her house. She does not know how to deal with the slope and in the end it is only with the help of her friends that she is able to overcome it.
A wonderful story about feeling overwhelmed by life’s obstacles and how asking for help can be the best way to move forward.
by Tom Percival
Ruby discovers a small worry and soon it grows into a big worry. It grows so big that it stops her doing the things she loves doing. How will Ruby cope with this big worry?
A wonderful reminder that we’re not alone, even in this sometimes socially isolated world, this book helps children identify and acknowledge their feelings and seek support when they need it.
Also check out Perfectly Norman, also by Tom Percival, which is a gorgeous book for children who feel like they’re different from other children and feel ashamed or try to hide it.
The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade
by Davina Francesca Bell and Allison Colpoys
It is the day before the underwater fancy-dress parade and Alfie has that feeling again. The same feeling he had before the school running races and a friend’s birthday party. It isn’t a nice feeling.
This book looks at what it is like for a child with social anxiety and how they can try to be brave, but sometimes they’re just not ready. And that’s OK.
by Karen Young and Norvile Dovidonyte
This is a brilliant book about anxiety aimed at children aged 5-12 written by Australian psychologist Karen Young, the founder of Hey Sigmund. It is an age-appropriate look at anxiety aimed at helping children understand why anxiety happens and where these feelings come from.
This books gives children the information they need to understand their anxiety and the knowledge that it can be managed. All in a fun, wonderfully illustrated way!
Go Away, Worry Monster!
by Brooke Graham and Robin Tatlow-Lord
Archie is worried about the first day of school and the Worry Monster is making him feel even more worried.
But Archie has some tricks he’s learned to help make the Worry Monster go away. A great book about the importance of recognising and naming your anxiety, which arms children with a range of strategies to help calm themselves during stressful times.
Billie B Brown / Hey Jack series
by Sally Rippin
Billie B Brown and Jack are best friends and the stars of these two early reader series from Australian author Sally Rippin. Perfect for children who are just learning to read independently but also great to read aloud with parents.
Children will identify strongly with the main characters and their experiences as they navigate through life, school, family, friends and fears. The books have a strong focus on feelings and how the main characters react emotionally and physically to the situations they find themselves in.
At the End of Holyrood Lane
by Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnston
Flick is a normal young girl but she lives in fear because of violent, unpredictable storms that plague her house. One day, when she has nowhere to hide from the storm, we reaches out and askes for help.
This book uses the storm metaphor to gently reach out to children who are facing their own torments, particularly those children living with domestic and family violence in the home, but also will resonate with children battling their own inner storms.