Books are a great resource for helping children to manage fears and phobias. Whether your child has a specific fear - the dark, storms, or separation from parents - or is generally anxious, there's likely a great book out there to normalize fears, provide solutions, and perhaps inspire confidence. We've listed some of our favorite recommendations for books on overcoming fears below. What books have helped your child?
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Jennie Utsinger: Beautiful Oops!, by Barney Saltzberg, takes mistakes and turns them into possibilities: drips of paint become the wheels of a car, a scrap of paper is the outline of a dog, and holes in your paper can be incorporated in your artwork in creative ways. Begin to teach your perfectionist children that mistakes are opportunities with this wonderful book.
Jennie Utsinger: While this story's particular focus is Jabari's fear of jumping off of the high dive, the theme of a child's challenges and triumphs when faced with a new situation will resonate with all. Gaia Cornwall's beautiful story and illustration follow Jabari, his dad, and his sister's day at the pool while Jabari gathers courage to take his first jump off of the diving board. His dad acknowledges his fears and then encourages his persistence after he jumps.
The Rain Train
Jennie Utsinger: Written by poet Elena de Roo, this lyrical book uses onomatopoeia for the sounds of the rain and the train, and depicts a thunderstorm in a positive way. When the storm starts, children hop aboard the rain train for a cozy ride through the storm. This is a great book to pull out during a storm to help calm anxious children.
Jennie Utsinger: This cute little squirrel prefers to stay in his safe, familiar little tree rather than venture into the outside world where he imagines all kinds of terrors lurk. Written by Melanie Watt, the story follows Scaredy Squirrel as he is forced to leave his nut tree and confront his fears, where he finds out he enjoys some activities he had previously feared. This book is a great stepping stone to discussions with kids about fears of the unknown and taking risks.
The Kissing Hand
Jennie Utsinger: In The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn, little Chester Raccoon is nervous about being separated from his mother on his first day of school. To help Chester feel more secure, his mother shares the "secret" of the Kissing Hand with him: she kisses his palm and tells him that her love will always be with him. Several teachers have read this sweet book to my boys before their respective first days of preschool and elementary and it's a wonderful comforting message for kids.
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)
Jennie Utsinger: Another great relatable children's story encouraging persistence and resilience after a setback, After the Fall follows Humpty Dumpty after he has plummeted off of the wall and been put back together again. Now terrified of heights, Humpty has to find the courage to climb again. Author Dan Santat tells the tale of Humpty overcoming his fear of failure with a surprise ending.
Jennie Utsinger: In this clever take on the monsters under the bed theme, Winifred Schnitzel is not frightened of her monsters, but they are keeping her up at night with all their noise. Lane Fredrickson describes how Winifred - a bright and resourceful little girl - engineers all sorts of imaginative monster traps in her efforts to get some sleep. Winifred finally figures out a successful monster repellent and, in the process, may inspire kids to view their "monsters" in a different way.
Llama Llama Red Pajama
Jennie Utsinger: In this now classic tale, a young llama is tucked into bed for the night and begins to fret when Mama Llama goes downstairs and becomes more upset when his mom doesn't quickly reappear. When Mama comes back to comfort Baby Llama, she reassures him that she's always near. Parents and kids alike will enjoy Anna Dewdney's catchy rhymes, and the story will resonate with small children who also have trouble with bedtime separation.
Orion and the Dark
Kelly R.: Kids who are afraid of the dark might find reassurance in this lovely book by Emma Yarlett. The Dark, personified as a friendly character, visits young Orion and takes him on an adventure to ease his fear and help him understand and appreciate the unknown.
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