While working the reference desk one evening a mom approached me and asked for middle-grade books with characters who struggle with anxiety. She explained that her daughter has all of sudden has been exhibiting anxiety doing routine activities such as traveling in a car.The patron wanted a book with a character who was going through something similar. Before I even got a chance to begin my search, two other parents standing nearby said, “I need that too!”
In a world of uncertainty, sometimes we just need to know that we are not alone with our fears. This is especially true for tweens who are already in a scary time of transition.
Librarians can help by providing families with resources and books to encourage them to discuss the feeling of anxiety and how to deal with it. If needed, librarians can also provide resources to refer families to get additional help. Here are a few of my go-to favorite books with characters with anxiety.
The Fix-It Friends: Have No Fear! by Nicole C. Kear
Fix-it Friends is a new series by Nicole C. Kear. Each book in the series highlights common topics from ADHD to grief. The first book of this series is about a girl named Maya who doesn’t want to go out to recess because she is too afraid of bugs. Maya’s friend Veronica forms a team of friends to help her fix her problem and face her fear. Filled with real-world advice and real tips at the end of the book from an expert, this book is perfect for younger tweens facing a little bit of anxiety.
All Birds have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann
Just like people sometimes, birds have a lot of things to worry about. Author Kathy Hoopmann uses colorful bird pictures and humorous bird behavior to explain what it is like like to live with anxiety day to day. At the end of the book, it also offers insightful tips such as breathing techniques to deal with anxiety. This book is great for reader’s to understand what anxiety is and some basic coping mechanisms one can use to help ease it.
Stanley Will Probably Be Fine by Sally J. Pla
Twelve-year-old Stanley is having a tough year. He fainted at a school safety assembly, and his friendship with his best friend is beginning to drift. Stanley suffers from sensory processing disorder and anxiety. Despite this, he tries everything he can to keep his friendship. This includes facing all of his fears to attend a Trivia quest with his neighbor to score VIP passes to Comic Fest to win back his friend. Can Stanley overcome a day filled with things that make him anxious? Author Sally Pla expertly weaves together a light-hearted story that touches on what anxiety is like in the background of middle school.
Some other great books might also include Real Friends by Shannon Hale, Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand, and Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff. Did I miss any titles? What are your favorite books that address anxiety?