By Ashly Moore Sheldon • September 02, 2020
As we transition into the 2020 school year, everyone seems to be feeling a little more anxious than usual—especially kids. From the pandemic to the climate crisis to social justice concerns, lots uf us are experiencing higher levels of worry and stress. For many children and teens, these feelings might be particularly overwhelming and frightening. Here are some books—for a range of ages—that can help.
Sometimes the best way to address our issues is by reading or hearing stories about people who overcome similar problems. Here are some great reads about kids and teens learning to manage their worries.
Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
When Ruby first meets the Worry, it's so small that she barely notices it. But over time, it gets bigger and bigger, until it starts getting in her way. Then one day, she meets a boy at the playground with his own Worry and she learns that talking about your worries can help keep them in check. Ages 4–7.
Listening with My Heart by Gabi Garcia
In this story, Esperanza finds a heart-shaped rock and sees it as a reminder to treat others with love and kindness. But when things start to go awry in her own life, will she remember to treat herself to that same gift. Ages 6–10.
Guts by Raina Telgemeier
Even though she's gotten over the flu, Raina's stomach still hurts—and the more she worries, the worse it gets. But luckily her parents help her get the right treatment. This funny and tender graphic memoir (part of a series) helps kids understand that anxiety can have physical effects and that talking can help. Ages 9–12.
Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis
Tiffany's life is in chaos. She recently lost her mother to cancer and now must leave her hometown of Chicago to live with a father she's never known. Meanwhile, she has a secret that threatens to upend everything. This YA novel was inspired by the author's own experiences with an anxiety disorder.
These books help youngsters face their anxieties head on, offering concrete suggestions for managing big feelings.
The Don't Worry Book by Todd Parr
From scary news, to loud neighbors, or a big day at school, everyone has worries! This bright cheerful book offers a variety of helpful, kid-friendly strategies for taking control of anxiety, like imagining yourself as a superhero or talking to the people you love. Ages 3–5.
What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner
With age-appropriate language, this guide introduces cognitive-behavioral techniques that provide kids ages 6 to 12 with tools and techniques to identify and manage their own anxiety. Huebner also authored Outsmarting Worry for older kids, ages 9 to 13, laying out a skill set for overcoming worries and fears.
Stuff That Sucks by Ben Sedley
This illustrated guide is designed to help teens move past negative thoughts and feelings to discover what truly matters most to them. The basic idea is to accept difficult emotions, rather than struggling against them, learn to prioritize their thoughts, feelings, and values.
For a more active approach to working on your issues, these books offer a variety of interactive exercises to help work through worries and anxieties.
Coping Skills for Kids by Jeannine Halloran
Developed from the author's experience in schools, outpatient mental health clinics, and as a mother, this workbook shares over 75 innovative, fun, and engaging activities to help kids deal with feelings of stress, anxiety, and anger.
Mindfulness for Teen Worry by Jeffrey Bernstein
Every teen worries—they're dealing with a lot of big changes! But when chronic worrying disrupts a teen's life, it can get in the way of achieving their goals. In this guide, young adults are given exercises designed to develop mindfulness skills, helping them live in the moment.
Parents often want to believe that their kids live a carefree existence, oblivious to the serious problems of the world. But, in truth, many kids are paying close attention to the concerns of the adults around them. They may not be able to articulate the worries that are building up inside them, but these books can help kids identify their stressors and manage their anxieties.