Every child goes through a phase of fear. Your child may have been the lucky one who only had a slight fear of strangers as a one-year-old. But, for most of us, our children constantly get scared of thunderstorms, dogs, the dark, strangers…and may even stay frightened of those things for awhile.
These books may help your child get over his or her fear by addressing it. But, I recommend taking it one step further. After you read the book, or even while reading it, talk about the fear and what to do when it comes. There are many remedies for fear, and some of these books give suggestions.
The booklist is arranged by type of fear, but the recommended age appropriateness of individual titles is designated in bold. Click here for a PDF version.
I Am So Brave! by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Sara Gillingham
This title addresses common fears and how the child overcame each one. It uses simple words and bold pictures.
I Used to be Afraid by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
This little girl used to be scared of many things until she looked at them from another angle.
When Lions Roar by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Chris Raschka
A boy is scared of many things. He learns to deal with his fear by closing his eyes and saying “Go away!” Then, he calms down. Super simple text and clear images makes this book great for toddlers who are learning to control their emotions.
What Are You Scared Of, Little Mouse? by Susanna Isern and illustrated by Jon Brokenbrow
Little Mouse is scared of many things and his mother helps him get over his fears.
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel is, well, scared of a lot things that could happen. He even has an emergency kit. What happens when he has to face life outside his home?
Louise Trapeze is Totally 100% Fearless by Mocol Ostow and illustrated by Brigette Barrager
A heavily illustrated chapter book about a six-turning-seven year old circus girl named Louise. It turns out her dream to fly high is stunted when she discovers that she is afraid of heights! Louise learns to trust her secret fear with others and slowly overcomes it step by step. Great message.
Sheila Rae, the Brave by Kevin Henkes
Sheila Rae is not afraid of anything, until she gets lost. This boastful mouse learns that she isn’t as brave as she thought and receives help from a very unexpected mouse! A great book to use to discuss different fears and what to do if you get lost.
Babymouse: Our Hero by Jennifer L Holm and Matthew Holm
Babymouse imagines herself as a hero, but can heroes really have fears? Thanks to her imagination and her best friend, Wilson, Babymouse can face her fear of dodgeball and Felicia.
The Doghouse by Jan Thomas
This doghouse is eerie because it has no windows and everyone who goes in does not come out. “Things aren’t always what they seem” is introduced here in this funny story.
Dear Bear by Joanna Harrison
An interesting way to meet your fear head-on. Katie is scared of the bear under the stairs. Her mother tells her to write him a letter, telling him to go away. “They” end up developing a friendly relationship, instead.
Yo? Yes! By Chris Raschka
Just because a story has few words, like two, does not mean it can’t address fear/shyness of others. This story is about two boys who are totally different from one another and become friends. There is a benefit to showing our kids that other shy ones were brave and earned a friend.
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look and illustrated by Leuyen Pham
Alvin Ho is scared of lots of things. Join him as he learns how to overcome his fear of new situations and everyday things.
Bye-Bye, Mommy by Scholastic (part of the Rookie Toddler series)
This board book helps your child understand that even when moms go away, they always come back.
I used this one to help my son, who would cry as I was leaving. My husband and I would tell him a phrase from the book: “And I clap-clap-clap when mommy comes back!” It helped him, especially when we actually said that line and clapped when I came back.
Fraidyzoo by Thyra Heder
A family wants to visit the zoo, but one daughter is terrified. Of what? She doesn’t remember. So, the girl’s family tries to help her pinpoint what she is scared of to help her get over it in this over-the-top event.
Nana in the City by Laura Castillo
A story about a boy visiting his grandma in a big city. The city scares him, but his Nana makes him a cape and shows him a different side of those scary things.
I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! by Jill Esbaum and Gus Gordon
Nadine the cow says she isn’t scared of anything, but when night comes and she is separated from her pals, will that still be true? Will she be able to find her friends? A funny book that you could use to address fear, being boastful and how being honest about it saves you from a heap of trauma.
Swim, Duck, Swim by Susan Lurie and photographs by Murray Head
Little duckling doesn’t want to go swimming! Will the fun in the water lure him in?
Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
Froggy is a frog, so swimming should come natural to him, right? Wrong. Will he be able to overcome his fear of swimming?
The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain
A couple of cubs decide to investigate a spooky old tree and come out braver than when they started. Sometimes scary situations help make us braver!
The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream by Stan and Jan Berenstain
A great way to approach nightmares. Sister dreams about some terrible things and after her parents explain what dreams are and how they are not real, she is able to comfort Brother who ends up having a nightmare himself.
Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
A classic most of us remember. Help make that monster you just built go away by using your words, and by turning the page.
Tickle Monster by Edouardo Manceau
Another book that is like Go Away, Big Green Monster but also helps to show that scary things aren’t always what they appear. Tickle away this monster’s body parts one by one and see what he really is!
The Fun Book of Scary Stuff by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Hyewon Yum
A boy and two dogs discover their fears and how to look at them in a new way.
Not Very Scary by Carol Brendler and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
This counting book is about a monster who is scared of fellow monsters! Melly is being followed by all sorts of spooky things. It turns out they are all headed to the same party. There she discovers the mantra she kept repeating to calm her nerves while she was being followed is actually true! They aren’t scary!
Another book like this one is Los Gatos Black on Halloween by Marisa Montes and illustrated by Yuyi Morales…although you only find out what the monsters are scared of (human kid trick-or-treaters!) at the end.
There’s a Nightmare in my Closet by Mercer Mayer
A classic story. A boy is scared of a monster, but that monster is also scared… Who will overcome their fear to comfort the other? Is that even possible?
Big Bad Bubble by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
A quirky story: these monsters are scared of bubbles! See how they get rid of that fear. A great story to use to talk about the silliness of some of our fears.
Princess Cupcake Doesn’t Want to Go to School by Ylleya Fields and illustrated by Michael LaDuca
Is your child scared to begin school? I bet he or she could relate to Princess Cupcake Jones as she tries every way to get out of going to kindergarten for the first time. What is it like once she does go? Should she have been frightened?
Monkey Not Ready–for Kindergarten by Marc Brown
Is your kid scared to start school, filled with worries and “what ifs?” Here is how Monkey gets ready to face his worries at the beginning of the school year.
Stormy Night by Salina Yoon
Bear is scared of a thunderstorm! By taking care of others during the storm, Bear gets through this fear.
Daniel Gets Scared by Maggie Testa and Jason Fruchter
Daniel and O the Owl are scared of the thunder during a storm. They learn to close their eyes and focus on happy things to get rid of their fears.
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
Another classic story! Instead of focusing on her fear of the upcoming thunderstorm, a granddaughter helps her grandma make a thunder cake.
Who Goes There? by Karma Wilson and illustrated Anna Currey
A little mouse tries to figure out what the scary noises are. He ends up showing much bravery!
Laszlo does not like the dark; he carries a flash light and has a nightlight. He tries to befriend the dark by visiting him in the basement hoping he won’t visit him at night. But, then Laszlo’s night-light goes out. The Dark shows him where more night-lights are. After reading this book, my son who has a fear of darkness started saying “Hi, Dark!”
The Berenstain Bears in the Dark by Stan and Jan Berenstain Sister is scared of the dark, but with the help of Papa she learns scary images in the dark are really just other objects and sounds are created by something explainable.
I wish you so much luck with using these books! I know it’s so hard to help your child get over his or her fears. Hopefully by using these books, addressing the fear either with humor or seriousness, and using the ideas shown in some of the books, your child will be making steps toward facing the fear.
What books have you shared with your child/children about something they were scared of? Did you use any of these titles? Did it work? Please share in the comments below.