Childhood anxiety is an ever-growing problem. In fact, according to Children’s Health:
“In Australia, one in 14 children and young people (4 -17 years) experience an anxiety disorder.”
So how can we help our children if they are showing increased signs of worry and anxiety in their everyday life?
Bring in the humble book.
Books are a beautiful way to bond with children whilst teaching them important tools they need navigate the world around them.
For this reason, we have searched and researched to share with you our pick of books to help kids with anxiety, worry and stress.
15 Books to help kids with anxiety, worry and stress
1. When Worry Takes Hold (Ages 4-8)
By Liz Haske
Night time can be worrying for young people, as the heroine of the book finds out. Worry grows bigger and bigger until it was just fear and darkness in the little girl’s mind. The wonderful illustrations show how Maya finds courage through calm breathing and conquers her worry in the end.
Recommended for: Parents/teachers who want children to understand what happens when worry takes hold and what to do to stop it in its tracks.
2. SCARED AND WORRIED (Ages 9-11)
By James J. Crist
When it comes to books to help kids with anxiety, Scared and Worried by child psychologist Dr. James J. Crist is one of the best. Filled with practical advice for older kids who struggle with fears and worries (from spiders to panic attacks), this gem of a book is a must-read for parents who want to teach their children how to feel calmer, stronger, and safer when anxiety strikes.
Recommended for: Older kids who want easy to follow tips for dealing with phobias, fears, separation anxiety, and other issues that are too big to handle on their own.
3. WILMA JEAN THE WORRY MACHINE (Ages 5-8)
by Julia Cook
For young children with anxiety, Wilma Jean the Worry Machine is incredibly relatable. The humorous book contains easy to follow strategies that parents and teachers can use to lessen the severity of anxiety in children of all ages. They’ll learn how to deal with worries that they can control and those they can’t.
Recommended for: Parents with anxious kids who get bored easily. The book is packed with simple and creative tips to make kids feel more in control of their feelings.
4. THE INVISIBLE STRING (Ages 4 and up)
By Patrice Karst
The Invisible String continues to be a bestseller and one of the most brilliant books to help kids with anxiety. The updated illustrations and simple story are as charming as ever, reassuring young children that they are always connected to the ones they love no matter what happens.
Recommended for: Parents who want to reassure anxious kids or kids who are going through a difficult time of grief or loss.
5. The Worry Tree (Ages 8 and up)
By Marianne Musgrove
Juliet’s worries are piling up. Her parents are always fighting, her grandma is getting older, and her friends are giving her a headache. When she discovers the Worry Tree and the animals that live in it, she unburdens her worries to them before she goes to sleep. When it doesn’t quite work out, Juliet must find another solution to her problem.
Recommended for: Anxious older kids who love a realistic and relatable story with a touch of magic.
Books to help kids with anxiety, worry and stress (cont.)
6. HEY WARRIOR (Ages 4 and up)
by Karen Young
Hey Warrior is a one of our favourite books to help kids with anxiety. It’s short at 16 pages and ideal for parents of young children struggling with anxiety. The author is a psychologist who explains why anxiety feels the way it does and how to turn it around. An essential book for caregivers and educators.
Recommended for: Parents, educators and teachers who want to understand the psychology of anxiety and explain it in a child-friendly way.
7. THE WORRY GLASSES (Ages 3-9)
By Donalisa Helsley
The Worry Glasses shows what can happen when worries take on a life of their own. The heroine starts off as a big worrywart who worries about almost everything, but learns how to take off her worry glasses and have better control of her anxiety. The story is easy to read and follow, helping kids recognise anxious feelings and lessen their effects.
Recommended for: Parents looking for a book that shows the many different manifestations of childhood anxiety and how to deal with them.
8. IS A WORRY WORRYING YOU? (Ages 6-7)
By Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz
What to do when 100 elephants want to come over for tea but you don’t have any tea bags? Serve lemonade, of course! This humorous and imaginative book teaches anxious kids ways to deal with different situations that are and can be worrying. Kids will learn to rethink their reactions to events and become more creative with their problem solving.
Recommended for: Parents of anxious kids who love funny books.
9. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WORRY TOO MUCH (Ages 8-9)
By Dawn Huebner
If you’re looking for practical tools and strategies, this is one of the best mental health books to help kids with anxiety. What to Do When You Worry Too Much is an interactive guide that shows parents and kids techniques to treat generalised anxiety. Despite being a self-help book, jargon gives way to clear language that young people can easily digest.
Recommended for: Parents looking for an excellent practical guide to help older kids who worry too much.
10. DAVID AND THE WORRY BEAST (Ages 8-9)
By Anne Marie Guanci
David worries about the shot he missed during an important game and the reaction of his team mates. His worries get so big that he asks himself if he should quit the team. Thankfully, he tells his parents and the school nurse about his fears and gets the help he needs in the form of techniques to tame his worry beast.
Recommended for: Anxious older kids who love sports and a relatable story.
BOOKS TO HELP KIDS WITH WORRY (CONT.)
11. WHEN MY WORRIES GET TOO BIG (Ages 8-9)
By Kari Dunn Buron
Parents looking for books to help kids with anxiety should pick up When My Worries Get Too Big. This illustrated, bestselling classic is filled with goofy illustrations, interactive content, and evidence-based strategies to help kids relax their bodies and control their emotions.
Recommended for: Parents of older kids with high levels of anxiety that may require strict interventions.
12. THE HUGE BAG OF WORRIES (Ages 3-5)
By Virginia Ironside
Anxious kids who love humorous stories will adore the Huge Bag of Worries. The simple story is compelling and the comic style illustrations are lively, showing a big blue bag of worries that follows a little girl all the time. In the end, she finds someone to listen to her problems and provide reassurance.
13. HOW BIG ARE YOUR WORRIES LITTLE BEAR? (Ages 3-9)
By Jayneen Sanders
This beautifully illustrated story about Mama Bear and her anxious son Little Bear is sure to delight young readers. Mama Bear teaches Little Bear that everyday worries can be overcome…all it takes is a willingness to talk about worries, fears and anxious thoughts with someone who can help.
Recommended for: Educators, caregivers, and parents of younger kids with anxiety.
14. WEMBERLY WORRIED (Ages 4-8 years)
By Kevin Henkes
Kids who are anxious about back to school season will relate to Wemberly, a little mouse who worries about lots of things, like snakes in the radiator and the first day of school. When Wemberly meets a fellow worrywart, she learns that it’s a waste of time to worry when school is so much fun. The charming illustrations and entertaining story are great for kids who are easily bored.
Recommended for: Parents of kids who are starting school for the first time.
15. RUBY FINDS A WORRY (Ages 4-6)
By Tom Percival
The book tells of Ruby, a curious, happy girl who has a worry for the first time in her life…a worry that grows enormous and fills her mind. She meets a boy who shows her that everyone has worries and that there’s a way to get rid of them. This is one of the top-rated books to help kids with anxiety, making it easy for parents to talk to their kids about emotional intelligence and the importance of sharing their fears.
Recommended for: Parents of younger kids who are dealing with anxious thoughts for the first time.
Not sure how to spot the signs of childhood anxiety?