Helpful Books for Anxious Kids

Coming out on the other side of a life-threatening medical diagnosis and the ensuing treatment takes a lot of ingenuity and resources. We’ve run the gamete looking for ways to help Jack deal with anxiety and depression during and after his bout with cancer, including various types of therapy and a whole lot of books.

While there is no substitute for a good therapist (particularly if you are a worried parent who is also trying to deal), books are enormously helpful on a day-to-day basis. For the other parents out there dealing with anxious kids, I thought I would share some of the books that our family found helpful. Please note that the below photos contain Amazon affiliate links.

Story Books for Kids with Medical Challenges

Little Tree

Age Range: 4-8

Franklin Goes to the Hospital

Age Range: 3-8


Story Books to Help Children Deal with Emotions

Is a Worry Worrying You?

Age Range: 4-8

When I Feel… Series

Age Range: 4-8


Workbooks for Kids with Anxiety or Medical Challenges

My Feeling Better Workbook

Age Range: 6-12

What To Do When You Worry Too Much

Age Range: 7-12

Digging Deep Journal

Age Range: 12+ (Artistic kids and mature kids as young as 8-9 could do great with this, in my opinion)

Do you have recommendations to add? I would love to hear about more, particularly any books specifically for tweens and teens!


These books are helpful for anxious kids between the ages of 4-12 who are dealing with big emotions and medical-related anxiety.

2013 Reads

I doubt I’m going to be finishing any more books in the next week and a half, so I thought I’d do a round-up of books I’ve read this in 2013. As you can see, I don’t do much reading on my own anymore but I steadfastly still read with Jack every night.

Read on my own or with book club:

  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
  2. Alif the Unseen – W.G. Wilson
  3. John Dies at the End – David Wong
  4. Warm Bodies – Isaac Marion
  5. Stepcoupling – Susan Wisdom
  6. Your Seven-Year-Old –  Louise Ames
  7. The Sensory Child Gets Organized – Carolyn Dagliesh
  8. The Highly Sensitive Child – Elaine Aron  [still reading]
  9. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clark  [still reading]

Read with Jack:

  1. Bunnicula – James Howe
  2. Howliday Inn – James Howe
  3. The Celery Stalks at Midnight – James Howe
  4. Nighty Nightmare – James Howe
  5. Bunnicula Strikes Again – James Howe
  6. How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell
  7. How to be a Pirate – Cressida Cowell
  8. How to Speak Dragonese – Cressida Cowell
  9. Charlie & The Chocolate Factory  – Roald Dahl
  10. Charlie & The Great Glass Elevator – Roald Dahl
  11. James and the Giant Peach- Roald Dahl
  12. The Magicians of Caprona – Dianna Wynne Jones
  13. The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet – Eleanor Cameron
  14. Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet – Eleanor Cameron
  15. Mr. Bass’s Planetoid – Eleanor Cameron
  16. Warriors: Into the Wild – Erin Hunter
  17. Warriors: Fire and Ice – Erin Hunter  [still reading]
  18. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda – Tom Angleberger
  19. Darth Paper Strikes Back – Tom Angleberger
  20. The Secret of the Fortune Wookie – Tom Angleberger
  21. Stardust – Neil Gaiman  [still reading]

Jack has read several chapter books on his own, as well, including a Geronimo Stilton chapter book but I haven’t done a good job of keeping track of them all so this is what you get…

The Keys to the Kingdom

Jack can read.

This is CRAZY to me.  He’s not even 5 yet!  Actually he’s been able to read words for a few months as far as I can tell – it’s hard to say because he is a closet reader.  He is the type of kid who doesn’t like to show that he can do something until he can do it perfectly.  That’s how it went with potty training, too – he stopped peeing in his diaper at night by age 2 but didn’t decide to use the toilet until somewhere near age 4 (I honestly can’t recall) and then it was all in!  He had very few accidents once he decided he was a big boy.

So I’ve suspected for some time that he could read but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that he was at his dad’s and officially read a book that he hadn’t read before.  He has been reading the backs of buses and is picking out episodes of Ben 10 (his ultimate favorite show) to watch from the Tivo by title.

He can also write his name, dad, mom, and this weekend I went into his room to find “THOAR!” on his magnedoodle.  (The kid loves exclamation points).  He signed his name on all of his Valentine’s treats back in February.  He draws letters randomly on all of his artwork.  He’s kind of obsessed.

I let Jack know that he has a super power now that he can read – he can figure out secrets that are written down and everything.  😉  I can’t wait until HE is reading books to ME at bedtime!

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Literary State of Mind

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I haven’t read a novel in approximately 2 years.  When Jack was an infant, I read pure FLUFF (i.e. Twilight) because I just didn’t have time or energy to concentrate on anything more complex and I only had about 45 minutes each day to read (on the bus).  Before that my interests lay somewhere in the realm of Literature-type Fantasy (Patricia McKillip or George R.R. Martin), Women’s Lit (a la Margaret Atwood or Jhumpa Lahiri) and bizarre biographies (ummm … Augusten Burroughs).  Mommy brain pushed me into fluff and then divorce/starting over made even that impossible.

I need to get back into reading.  I have been wasting too much time on Facebook games that are repetitive and provide no life enrichment.  Don’t get me wrong, zoning out after I get home from work is nice for a bit, especially when accompanied by wine!  But I end up zoning out for much longer than I intend and my daily reading list ends up being Olivia, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, and Where the Wild Things Are.  There are some really awesome children’s books out there, but I’m a little sick of them, to tell you the truth.

After being pestered by David about it, I finally took action and went down to our local library.  I haven’t had a library card in almost 10 years, so it was definitely time!  I was shocked at how quickly the process was now that it’s all computerized.  It got me excited about the library all over again (when I was a kid, I took a paper grocery bag with me to the library and filled it with novels – those lasted me maybe two weeks).

Anyway, I checked out six books – a mix of memoirs and fiction to warm me up to reading again.  Jack is with his dad in Texas for the next week and a half (*sob*), so I am going to take the opportunity to get reacquainted with the wonderful world of books.  If you know of anything good that I have likely missed in the last four years, please feel free to recommend.  Otherwise I am in danger of choosing books based solely on the appeal of their covers…

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Caught in a Lie

Last night I was sitting in the bathroom with Jack and reading Time to Pee to him.  I’ve read this book a million times now and Jack still loves it.  There are various books that Jack has in which I tend to change the words around and this is one of those.  When I get to the page that says “Boys can stand, girls should sit,” I have always read it as “Boys can stand or they can sit.”  It was hard enough to get him to use the potty – I wasn’t about to tell him he needed to stand and pee all over everything!

Thanks to Super Why, Jack is now asking me to point to some of the words in the book and tell me what they say.  I did that with some of them, but when I got to that page…well, I pointed anyway and read it the way I always do.  Jack corrected me, saying, “It says girls should sit!” as he pointed to each word on the page.  My mouth dropped open and I began to ask him questions.  Do they have this book at your dad’s?  No.  What about at (daycare provider) G’s?  No.  Uh…how did you know what it says? I don’t know.

I’ve confirmed that this book does NOT reside at his dad’s house.  Furthermore, I was just talking to the daycare provider last week about various potty books that Jack likes and she mentioned she didn’t have any of Mo Willems‘ books.  So…I’m flummoxed.  He did draw the word FOOD on his magnadoodle last week(!) but reading?  There has to be some other explanation!