Picture books are an amazing tool that allows adults to touch on and discuss big concepts with young children. Anxiety and fear are feelings that children experience more often than we are aware of. Anxiety and fear among young children can be triggered by various situations such as the dark or testing at school, performance in front of an audience or a big change, making a mistake etc. Considering that these feelings are complex, young children have hard time talking about them them. To be frank, I believe adults as well have a hard time acknowledging or sharing these feelings. Stories covering this topic where a character is experiencing fear, worry or anxiety are a subtle way of checking in with the young ones. In this post I would like to share the top 5 books from my shelf on the topic.
The Whatifs by Emily Kilgore
The main character Cora is always worrying about everything: homework, her dog running away, her crayon getting broken, her piano recital. She is constantly overwhelmed with these little monster creatures called "the Whatifs" until one day a friend helps her see the other side. This colorful and simple picture book is a just right conversation starter on the complex topic: anxiety. I would say it is perfect fit for young and old.
Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percifal
Ruby is a happy little girl until one day she discovers a little yellow thing following her wherever she goes: in the park, at school, at home. The more she ignores it the bigger it gets. It finally grows into a huge round thing that doesn't fit anywhere. And then one day Ruby meets a friends with a similar bubble above his head. Simple, yet engaging story that makes it easier for young children to grasp on the concept of worrying. It would encourage children to share their worries with an adult or a friend as that is how the worry gets smaller or disappears.
The Worrysaurus by Rachel Bright
Poor little Worrysaurus has planned a lovely day ahead but he simply can't enjoy it because he is worrying about so many things already. He has butterflies in his tummy. How can they go away? This beautifully illustrated picture book shares how some of us feel when we overthink things and want to be certain of what will happen. A perfect story for little ones that start school or when families move to new house. A comforting story for young and old. Everything will be OK!
Parachute by Danny Parker
A heartwarming, beautifully illustrated story about a boy who carries a parachute everywhere he goes. It keeps him safe until one day when he gets stuck and needs to let go of the parachute. Short and simple story that gives perspective on how some things can be scary and how we can outgrow the security blanket.
You've got Dragons by Kathryn Cave
This story pictures fears and worries in a metaphorical way. The fears are presented as dragons. The main character, Ben has 'dragons' in the dark, or before a math test but he is ignoring them which makes things worse. Once he acknowledges that they are there and starts talking about them, they disappear. This is a lovely story that would spark discussion and encourage young readers to share their worries and fears, through a drawing or a joke about them, a talk with someone because that is the best way for those dragons to fly away.