This has been a year of uncertainty and change, most of which is outside of our control. Throughout it all, I have also witnessed the therapeutic quality of reading aloud books about anxiety and worry. I hear many teachers report the incredible flexibility of their students. Books about worries and worrying helped to show kids how to validate their fears while also working to overcoming them.
I have curated a list of nine books about worries and overcoming anxiety. Many of these books tackle the “what if” questions that can consume us. Many of these read alouds about worries and anxiety address the idea that some worries you can control and others you can’t.
Once crucial element I looked for in these books about worries and anxieties is validation of the experience. Worries and anxieties are part of life. Throughout all of these books, readers learn new perspectives and tricks that can help lessen the load of worries and help us live in the present moment.
You can click on any of the book titles below for an Amazon affiliate link, where you can find a full summary and reviews of each book. If you happen to order a book from the link provided, I earn a small percentage of that sale, which goes towards the maintenance of my blog.
Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
Ruby Finds a Worry emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and talking about our worries in order to make them disappear. At first, Ruby tries to ignore her worry. This causes the worry to grow and grow. She can’t think about anything else, no matter how hard she tries. She thinks she is alone with her worry. One day, she finds a boy sitting on a bench. He seems to have a worry too. As he starts to tell her about the worry, it goes away. He feels better. So, she does the same. Students will identify with this phenomenon. Many will want to share times when they were scared or worried and talking about it really helped them.
The Whatifs by Emily Kilgore
The Whatifs tells the story of Cora, a girl who never stops worrying. She is haunted by the “whatifs,” personifications of all of the bad things that could happen. They follow her wherever she goes. A big day arrives: her piano recital. The whatifs start to takeover. Right before her performance, a new friend, Stella, helps Cora see the whatif through a new perspective. Stella helps Cora see that whatifs can also be good! The Whatifs is a read aloud about worrying that acknowledges that asking “what if” is natural– everyone does it! At the same time, the story puts a positive spin on thinking about the unknown.
When Worry Takes Hold by Liz Haske
When Worry Takes Hold is a read aloud about worry that blends an narrative story with an introduction to breathing practices. The story begins with Worry (yes, capital W) taking over as Maya is left alone with her thoughts at bedtime. Worry consumes her all day and all night. Then, she learn how to breathe through her fears. With each breathe, she gain courage. While worry doesn’t disappear, she has found a way to overcome it: taking a deep breath. This is an excellent book to pair with a lesson on mindful breathing. If you are interested in teaching your child or students specific breathing techniques, MindfulMazing.com has an excellent resource.
Me and My Fear by Francesca Janna
Me and My Fear is yet another brilliant book by Francesca Janna, author of Journey. There is a thin line between worry and fear. Me and My Fear is not just a read aloud about worry, but also a read aloud about fear. Janna personifies fear as a creature (a friend) that grows and prevents our protagonist from meeting friends as a new school, in a new country. Many interactions exacerbate her fear, such as difficulty understanding people in a language that is not her own and being called by the wrong name. She thinks she is alone, the only one with fear. One day, she meets a boy and notices that he also has a fear. Together, they share and play, and their fears become smaller. In the end, she realizes that everyone has a fear.
Wilma Jean Worry Machine by Julia Cook
Wilma Jean Worry Machine is another read aloud about overcoming worries that infuses rhyme and humor. Wilma Jean worries throughout the day. She worries about each period at school. She worries about every activity after school. She is struck by a series of “what if” questions, worrying about the worst case scenarios. In the end, her teacher helps her overcome the worry flu. She helps Wilma Jean see that there are worries you can control and worry that you cannot control. And for those you can’t control, you can put them in the “worry hat.” Looking for a tool to help students let go of uncontrollable worries? Use this read aloud to introduce a worry object! Students can learn to go to that object when there is a worry without a solution and set the worry aside.
Hey Warrior by Karen Young
Hey Warrior is a nonfiction children’s book about anxiety. Its pages teach about the power of the brain and the purpose of anxiety. It provides some facts and metaphors about the amygdala, helping kids see it as the part of the brain that protects us, but can also work too hard. Hey Warrior explains the purpose of anxiety and can act as a read aloud about overcoming anxiety. It can be used as a tool with a child one-on-one or to help the whole class develop a language around anxiety, worry and growth mindset.
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Hankes
Wemberly Worried is a classic read aloud about worrying about the first day of school. I read it to my class almost every year in September, but have found that its central message is powerful beyond first day jitters. Hankes tells the tale of Wemberly who is always worrying. Her worries grow bigger as she prepares for the first day of school. It is the perfect book for addressing how scary unknown experiences can be and how we can approach them to help ease our anxiety.
I’m Worried by Michael Ian Black
I’m Worried is a humorous, honest book about being worried about the future, written by actor and comedian, Michael Ian Black. It effortlessly, with a touch of silly, teaches us how to accept those fear and live in the now. It starts with a little girl and a flamingo, enjoying a beautiful day. Along comes their friend, a potato. Potato is full of worries. He is worried about everything and anything regarding the future. Potato’s friends start to feel worries too. But, then they remember how they have faced hard moments before and they turned out fine. In the end, they learn that it is better to live in the now. They can handle the hard moments in life when they happen.
The Worry Box by Suzanne Chiew
The Worry Box is a simple read aloud about overcoming worries and not letting them get in your way of having fun. It tells the story of a young bear who is full of worry. But, in order to keep his worries from inferring with his fun, he learns a trick! He writes his worries on pieces of paper and puts the papers in a box. Once the worries are in the box, his mind is cleared! This is an excellent book as a whole class read aloud about worries. It is also an effective book to read with a small group or one-on-one to talk directly about how to overcome worries. You could also pair read aloud with a box decorating activity to practice thinking of worries and putting them in the box.
I hope you and your students find these titles helpful! Did your favorite make it on the list? If not, be sure to add it in the comments