20 picture books on fear

Know a kid who has a fear? Or a human who doesn’t?!

I talked to a soon to be fifth grader recently who had one. Or a whole constellation of them, for good reason. She was about to start school in a new country where she didn’t know the school, the place, or any of the kids. Pretty scary. I told her I was confident she’d do just fine. Because I am confident she’ll do just fine.

But she got me thinking about the fears that accompany this time of year, the beginning of school, and how the fears really don’t stop coming.

Picture books are such a comfort to fears (especially if someone comforting is reading them aloud). Like all books, they let us know there are other people who feel the way we do. Who face what we face. Who do just fine.

Here are 20 picture book prescriptions that help address a number of different kinds of fears should they come in handy this year. They aren’t necessarily about fear, but they address specific fears in one way or another. They comfort. And they’re all really good books.

sillybilly Silly Billy by Anothony Browne.

Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding (Anne Schwartz Books) written by Lenore Look, illustrations by Yumi Heo.




Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt.

The Ok Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.



There Are No Scary Wolves by Hyewon Yum.



Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Scott Magoon.



Brave Ben by Mathilde Stein, illustrated by Mies Van Hout.



Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall.



The Sea Serpent and Me by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Catia Chien.


Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School by Adam Auerbach.


I'MHEREI’m Here by Peter H. Reynolds.



Jibberwillies at Night by Rachel Vail, illustrated by Yumi Heo.



AMANDINAAmandina by Sergio Ruzzier.



Can’t Sleep by Chris Raschka.


Garmann’s Summer by Stian Hole.


The Little Matador by Julian Hector.


My Name Is Yoon by Helen Recorvits, pictures by Gabi Swiatkowska.


Meena by Sine van Mol, illustrated by Cariane Wijffels.


SHRINKINGVIOLEETShrinking Violet by Cari Best, illustrated by Giselle Potter.



Black Dog by Levi Pinfold.



Your turn. Do you have any recommendations of picture books that address a certain fear? Tell us about it!





21 Responses to 20 picture books on fear

  1. Megan Loiselle Forti says:

    Bookmarking this for use for students. I’m sure I’ll need to reference “being different” and “fitting in” books as ESL teacher. Bonus: I already have the “Monsterly” book in English/Spanish from a Cheerios book!

  2. Tanya says:

    FANTASTIC LIST!!! Such a great range of fears covered. To this wonderful list I might add Emily Gravett’s LITTLE MOUSE’S BIG BOOK OF FEARS.

  3. Danzel says:

    Impressive list! Thanks for the resource. And yes, check out Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears. It’s so clever.

  4. Stacy Couch says:

    Ooh–some favorites, some I HAVE to check out. Love Emily Gravett’s WOLVES too (made my nephew smile & shiver, tres theatrically), and so many Steig classics. ROTTEN ISLAND is a must.

  5. Ashley says:

    Great recommendations! Maggie’s not scared of much, but we’re always looking for new books. She LOVES Extra Yarn. 🙂

  6. Zack Rock says:

    Nice work! Bookmarking this for future reference.

  7. I love Scaredy Squirrel because he only overcomes his fears enough to accomplish one thing, then he goes back to being his loveable, neurotic self. This is much more realistic than the usual story where a character undergoes a complete personality transformation, a process that actually makes a character less sympathetic and harder to relate to.
    And thanks for including the OK book!

  8. Deirdre O'Sullivan says:

    My all time fave book on fear would have to be A BAD CASE OF STRIPES by David Shannon – it’s about a kid called Camilla Cream who is very, very worried about what other kids think of her. She avoids the terrors of the first day at a new school by breaking out in a bad case of stripes – just like the mumps only much more colourful! The vibrant pictures in this book bedazzle the eye – and we feel such sympathy for poor, timid Camilla, who seems doomed to a life of meek mouseyness – there’s a child like this in every classroom, isn’t there? But suddenly, thanks to the kind advice of a mysterious old lady called Mrs Strawberry, Camilla decides to believe in herself – and we see how the miraculous power of SELF CONFIDENCE banishes the tyranny of fear forever. A brilliant picture book, humming with that rarest combination of
    talents – because the writer is also the illustrator!
    Toodlepip! from Deirdre O’Sullivan
    Melbourne, Australia.

  9. erin says:

    What a fantastic post! I’m eager to check these out, and I see a couple that may be helpful to a certain little one I know.

  10. Eileen says:

    Wow nice list – thanks for sharing! I’ve reviewed some books that will fit in nicely with the theme – Bear Under the Stairs by Helen Cooper (fear of the dark/ bears/ scary creatures), Owl Babies by Martin Waddell (separation anxiety), The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers (fear of shadows), Kindergarten Diary by Antoinette Portis (fear of starting kindergarten), Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney (fear of new experiences), Boom, Boom, Boom! by Jamie A Swenson (fear of thunder) and The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins (fear of people). Hope it helps!

  11. Bonnie Eng says:

    This is such a clever list…Maddie (my niece) has been having meltdowns about having to start preschool. I am definitely going to check out a few of these titles for her….thanks for the suggestions Danielle!! 😉

Talk to me!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.