Awesome Books for Your Anxious Child
Anxiety in children can show up in lots of different ways.
Some children experience it in the form of frequent fears and worries and have recurrent, troubling thoughts about all of the "bad things" that might go wrong in their day. They may not want you to leave their side and may have a hard time settling into new, unfamiliar situations.
Other anxious kids might seem inflexible, irritable, angry or just generally like they have ZERO chill.
Lots of anxious children trouble falling and staying asleep, and many even experience physical symptoms like upset tummies and headaches.
Do any of these things sounds like your child?
If so, you are not alone!
Approximately 10% of children experience enough worry on a daily basis to meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder diagnosis, and many (many!) more experience varying levels of anxiety throughout their day to day lives.
In addition to your child and family participating in supportive behavioral therapy to help manage the symptoms of anxiety, which is highly effective and we wholeheartedly recommend, reading books related to anxiety can also be extremely helpful.
These books can help children identify their own thoughts and feelings, realize that other kids have similar worries and feelings as their own, and help to develop healthy coping strategies.
Here are some reading recommendations for children experiencing anxiety, broken down into age groups. Also make sure to check out the end of this list for books for parents and caregivers!
Books About Anxiety for Children Ages 4-7
Don’t Feed The WorryBug by Andi Green
“Don't Feed The WorryBug is a great story to start the conversation on worry and anxiety. We all worry, it happens, but the key is to not let those worries aka the WorryBug grow to the point it ruins your day.”
Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
This is a story that helps kids better understand what anxiety can feel like. It is a supportive tool to help kids learn ways to cope with constant worrying, nervousness and anxiety. This book integrates mindfulness practices as well.
The Whatifs by Emily Kilgore
“The Whatifs is focused on helping kids who may be struggling with their own “whatifs” to recognize they’re not alone, and to gain some tools for calming their minds when the “what-iffing” gets to be too much. This book is a great early explainer of anxiety for kids who may just be starting to experience it at a deeper level.”
My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing by Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor
“My Magic Breath takes the principles of deep breathing and teaches them to young readers in a way they can understand and embrace. It gives them a tool they can use when their own worries start to take over.”
Catching Thoughts by Bonnie Clark
“Catching Thoughts is a quiet, thoughtful story that teaches readers how to practice mindfulness, focusing on thoughts that bring beauty, joy, and calm into their lives. This story teaches kids how to acknowledge unwanted thoughts, show them compassion, then actively replace them with positive thoughts instead.”
Books About Anxiety for Children Ages 7-10
What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner, PhD
This interactive self-help book is a great resource for educating, motivating, and empowering kids to learn how to reduce their anxieties. This book is full of fun metaphors and humorous illustrations that make the concepts and strategies easy to understand for kids.
Hey Warrior by Karen Young
“Hey Warrior provides kids with a physiological understanding of anxiety, and with the vocabulary to accurately explain what they’re experiencing.This is a great book for kids and parents to read together because it can provide you both with the understanding and vocabulary that can help you talk about anxiety as a family.”
Me And My Fear by Francesca Sanna
“A heartfelt story about fear and anxiety, this story would be a great resource to use with children who are starting a new school or have recently moved from another country.”
Books About Anxiety for Tweens Ages 9-13
Outsmarting Worry (An Older Kid's Guide to Managing Anxiety) by Dawn Huebner, PhD
“This is the second interactive self-help book by Dawn Huebner geared towards older kids. This book teaches kids and the adults who care about them a specific set of skills that makes it easier to face - and overcome - worries and fears. Smart, practical, proven techniques are presented in language easy to understand for kids.”
Superpowered: Transform Anxiety into Courage, Confidence, and Resilience by Renee Jain and Shefali Tsabary, PhD
“Superpowered breaks down a long list of helpful methods for overcoming anxiety, and it does so in a way that’s fun and easy to understand. Full of graphics and quizzes, meant to grab the attention of young readers.”
Guts by Raina Telgemeier
“Guts is a novel written based on the writer’s own experience with anxiety as a teenager. Rather than being a book of the self-help variety, this is a book that kids with anxiety may actually be able to see themselves in — a book that will remind them that they’re not alone.”
Note: This book does discuss puberty.
Five Things About Ava Andrews by Margaret Dilloway
This is a true-to-life, but fiction story about a middle school girl who learns to manage her social anxiety through joining an improv acting class. A sweet story about building self confidence and finding your own voice. This story also touches on living with a chronic health condition.
Books About Anxiety for Teens Ages 13-17
Mindfulness for Teen Anxiety: A Practical Guide to Manage Stress, Ease Worry, and Find Calm by Jamie D. Roberts, LMFT
This anxiety-busting guide introduces teens to the concept of mindfulness—the practice of being present in the here and now—and teaches them how they can use it to feel calmer and more in control. There are workbook pages, teen-friendly illustrations, and this book is jam packed with real life strategies for teens to use when they need relief FAST.
This book is written specifically for teenage readers, and specifically addresses common pressures they face. The content relies on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and mindfulness techniques to empower teens experiencing anxiety.
My Anxious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic by Michael A. Tompkins, PsyD and Katherine Martinez
“My Anxious Mind outlines a simple and proven plan to help teens understand and deal with anxiety and panic. It is chock full of simple-to-use tools and strategies that easily fit into any teen's busy routine.”
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
This is not a workbook or guide but instead a fiction novel written to speak to teenagers in a way they can easily relate to. The main character of the story is a teenage girl with social anxiety and selective mutism, and has themes around self discovery, relationships, healing, and building confidence.
Books About Anxiety For Parents and Caregivers:
Helping Your Anxious Teen: Positive Parenting Strategies to Help Your Teen Beat Anxiety, Stress, and Worry by Sheila Achar Josephs, PhD
“Written by a child psychologist who specializes in adolescent anxiety, this book will help parents/caregivers learn the best ways to support their teen in overcoming problematic thinking and fears, discover what behaviors and coping strategies unwittingly make anxiety worse, and understand how anxiety is best defeated with surprisingly counterintuitive methods. Includes Step-by-step guidance, along with numerous real-life examples and exercises.”
Anxiety Relief for Kids On-the-Spot Strategies to Help Your Child Overcome Worry, Panic, and Avoidance by Bridget Flynn Walker, PhD
“Written by a psychologist and expert in childhood anxiety, this easy-to-use guide offers proven-effective cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure skills you can use at home, in social settings, or anywhere anxiety takes hold”
The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD
“The twelve strategies in this book teach parents and caregivers how to support kids in taking the emotionally overwhelming moments of their lives and using them as an opportunity to foster emotional understanding and integration.”
Callie Caudill, LCSWA is a child therapist at Flourish Counseling and Wellness in Asheville, NC. She works with children ages 5-17 and loves helping little ones finds ways to process their big feelings. You can learn more about Callie (and how your child can work with her) here!