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93+ Books About Overcoming Fears and Challenges

Looking for a list of the best children's books about facing fears?

“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life.” So writes Yann Martel in his classic, Life of Pi. Fear can be terribly debilitating in our lives, no matter our age. Children (and adults!) can have fears of all kinds of things, from big things, like fear of failure, to little things, like fear of bugs.

If fear is life’s opponent, books may be life’s best ally. As C.S. Lewis stated, “Since it is so likely that [children] will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” Children’s literature provides a powerful resource for helping children face and overcome fears and challenges. In these books and stories, children will see characters who have challenges or fears similar to their own. They’ll see how the characters face these fears and challenges and what they do to manage or overcome them. These characters provide children with someone who understands their fears and challenges yet has also successfully overcome them and can inspire courage and offer comfort and reassurance. In other words, stories provide parents and loved ones a framework for talking about fears in a way that is less personal yet still relatable to children.

In this list, we highlight books about overcoming fears of all varieties. Books cover all kinds of challenges, like leaving home, being alone, stage fright, the dark, or even getting a haircut and more. You can use our table of contents to navigate to specific topics that are relevant to helping your reader overcome a fear, such as having courage to start school, overcoming the monster under the bed, being brave while learning to swim, and many others. You can also limit the list to certain book types: board books, great for babies and toddlers; picture books, perfect for toddlers through elementary school age; and chapter books, best for advancing readers through early middle school age.

We hope you can use this list to help children overcome their fears, whatever they may be. If you have a book that is not on the list that has been helpful in overcoming a fear, please share it in the comments below.

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After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again
Written & illustrated by Dan Santat
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
After reading this for the first time, I immediately added to my "to buy" list. I'm a sucker for "fractured fairy tales" (which this isn't quite, but in the same vein) and this is an incredibly clever take on Humpty Dumpty "after the fall," exposing the emotional trauma following his traumatic accident and how he goes about conquering his fears. No spoilers here, but when I hit the last page I was blown away: so clever and so many warm fuzzies when Humpty realizes his full potential.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the New York Times–bestselling creator of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend comes the inspiring epilogue to the beloved classic nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty.

Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat’s poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.

Will he summon the courage to face his fear?

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.

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Wally Does Not Want a Haircut
Written & illustrated by Amanda Driscoll
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Wally the sheep does not want to get the haircut he really needs, even after all the other farm animals get new hairdos, but when his shaggy wool gets him in trouble, he has no choice but to ask for a trim.

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Mindi and the Goose No One Else Could See
Written by Sam McBratney & illustrated by Linda Olafsdottir
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A charming new story from the author of Guess How Much I Love You offers an original–and heartening–take on childhood anxiety. Once there was a girl called Mindi who was afraid of something that no one else could see. This thing that she was afraid of, this thing that no one else could see, was a big goose. It came into her room as quietly as a thought comes into your head. . . . When a little girl named Mindi says she is being visited by a big goose–a scary creature that is visible only to her–her devoted dad and mom try everything they can think of to drive it away. But maybe some outside assistance is warranted from their wise friend Austen, a farmer who knows what is needed to help Mindi turn her mind to something new. In a sensitive exploration of childhood fears, Sam McBratney, the author of Guess How Much I Love You, narrates with charm, wit, and a touch of whimsy, while Linda Ólafsdóttir’s delicate illustrations enhance the modern fairy-tale feel in a story that is sure to become a bedtime favorite.

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I Am (Not) Scared
Written by Anna Kang & illustrated by Christopher Weyant
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Two fuzzy friends go to an amusement park. They try to convince each other that there are much scarier things than the roller coaster. Hairy spiders! Aliens! Fried ants! They soon discover that sometimes being scared isn’t as “scary” as they thought. With expressive illustrations and simple text, this giggle-inducing tale about (not) being scared features the endearing characters from the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award­ winner You Are (Not) Small.

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You've Got Dragons
Written by Kathryn Cave & illustrated by Nick Maland
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Worries, fears, and anxieties are all dragons that sneak up on most of us at one time or another.

Lots of people get dragons. Even really really good people get them. And sometimes they are hard to get rid of. So what can a young boy with a bad case of the dragons do? He can pretend they are not there, or that they are really quite harmless. Hugs from his mom help. Looking his dragon straight in the eye at least once every day helps even more. But most reassuring of all is the reminder that dragons don’t stay forever.

Kathryn Cave’s lighthearted writing style and illustrator Nick Maland’s appealing pen-and-ink drawings exaggerate the humor of the text without minimizing the seriousness of the underlying themes. It is the perfect read-aloud story for young children whose fears can sometimes get the better of them.

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  • Doggie Gets Scared - Shadows, strangers, thunder and lightning! Sometimes a toy doggie gets scared. Don’t worry, Doggie, Baby is here. Baby’s toy doggie is scared of many things: shadows, swimming pools, strangers, loud noises. Boom! Good thing Baby is there to help, with a trusty blankie (which sometimes works). Baby also comforts Doggie at daycare and at the playground when Mommy steps out of their sight. But when Doggie himself goes missing, could that be too scary even for brave Baby? Leslie Patricelli gives a fearless new spin to a universal toddler experience–and offers a few suggestions for things that can help the scary go away.

  • Fablehaven - For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite. Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken — Seth is a bit too curious and reckless for his own good — powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world, Kendra and Seth must find the courage to do what they fear most.

  • Shadow Spinner - Every night, Shahrazad begins a story. And every morning, the Sultan lets her live another day – providing the story is interesting enough to capture his attention. After almost one thousand nights, Shahrazad is running out of tales. And that is how Marjan’s story begins…. It falls to Marjan to help Shahrazad find new stories – ones the Sultan has never heard before. To do that, the girl is forced to undertake a dangerous and forbidden mission: sneak from the harem and travel the city, pulling tales from strangers and bringing them back to Shahrazad. But as she searches the city, a wonderful thing happens. From a quiet spinner of tales, Marjan suddenly becomes the center of a more surprising story than she ever could have imagined.

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - “If we walk far enough,” said Dorothy, “I am sure we shall sometime come to some place.”A storm tears through rural Kansas and a young farm girl named Dorothy finds herself and her farmhouse swallowed by a cyclone and transported to a magical land called Oz. This unexpected passage into this land of wonders is not without its peril as her farmhouse has fallen on the Wicked Witch of the East. Without pause, the Good Witch of the North appears and presents Dorothy with the Wicked Witch’s prized magical silver shoes.The wonders of Oz abound, but Dorothy wants nothing more than to go back home to her family. The Good Witch instructs Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road all the way to the Emerald City, where she must solicit the great and powerful Wizard of Oz for help in returning her back home.Dorothy’s journey down the yellow brick road begins uneventful, but with Wicked Witches running amok, will it remain that way?

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The Dragonling
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

A boy and a baby dragon forge an unlikely friendship in this first book in the fantastical Dragonling chapter book series! Darek can’t wait for his first Dragonquest. Then he can be just like his older brother, Clep, the hero who brought down a Great Blue, the largest and fiercest dragon of all. Darek goes to admire the kill—and finds a dragonling peeking out of the giant dragon’s pouch. Scared but curious, he feeds the hungry baby and makes an unlikely friend. But to save the helpless Dragonling he must now venture into the fearsome Valley of the Dragons, risking his life to return his friend to his own fire-breathing kind.

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The New Kid at School
Written & illustrated by Kate Mcmullan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

The Dragon Slayers’ Academy is back-and it’s bigger and better than ever! The books have new covers and are now 112 pages long. Expanded from the old 96-page format, they now feature a fun Dragon Slayers’ Academy Yearbook at the end of each story, with funny profiles of the faculty, the staff, and, especially, the students of D.S.A. All the things kids want to know about their favorite characters are revealed: their silly nicknames, inner secrets, wildest dreams, and lofty plans for the future! When a traveling minstrel foretells that he is to become a hero, Wiglaf sets out to fulfill his destiny: he signs up at the Dragon Slayers’ Academy. But how can he ever hope to be a dragon slayer when he can’t even stand the sight of blood? Illustrated by Bill Basso.

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The Red Badge of Courage
Written by Stephen Crane
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 11-16

Henry Fleming dreams of the thrill of battle and performing heroic deeds in the American Civil War. But his illusions are shattered when he comes face to face with the bloodshed and horrors of war. Now he’s a raw recruit, Henry experiences both fear and self-doubt. Will war make Henry a coward or a hero? A vivid fictionalised account of the experiences of an ordinary innocent young soldier on the battlefields of the American Civil War, introduced by American writer, illustrator and historian, Wendell Minor.

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Goodbye Butterflies: A Story About Overcoming Fear and Making New Friends
Written by Gerzalle A. Blanks & illustrated by Gabrielle Fludd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-10

Have you ever been the “new kid” at your school? Can you say…SCARY?! Well, you can relate to Jasmine Jones! She is a 3rd grader that is extremely nervous about transferring to a new school. She just knows this will be the worst day ever! However, as the day goes by she realized that each friend she meets shares a common interest with her. This makes her first day experience better than she expected!There is a bonus page included with discussion questions to help build the reader’s comprehension skills.

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I Love You, Bunny
Written & illustrated by Alina Surnaite
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Sometimes Suzie gets scared in the night, but Bunny White is always there to look after for her. One night, a strange shadow creeps into the room, and Bunny White is nowhere to be found. I Love You, Bunny is a beautiful debut about overcoming being afraid of the dark, illustrated in a classic, nostalgic style. The heartwarming story is perfect for before bed reading, and Alina Surnaite displays a rare drawing talent reminiscent of Shirley Hughes and Martin Waddell.

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  • Gilbert, the Surfer Dude - Gilbert is excited for a perfect day at the beach . . . until Lola is scared of the water and Gilbert forgets his bathing suit! Even after buying a cool new suit that says Surfer Dude on it, will Gilbert end up in deep water?

  • At the End of Holyrood Lane - Flick is just like any other youngster. She loves to chase butterflies and jump in autumn leaves. But life at the end of Holyrood Lane is often violent and unpredictable due to the constant storms that plague her home, causing her to cringe with dread and flee whenever they strike. Visually arresting, emotionally incisive, and ultimately uplifting, this beautifully crafted picture book provides a sensitive glimpse into one aspect of domestic violence and how it can affect young lives.

  • Unseen Magic - The trick to all magic is: you can only see it if you know where to look.The magic-infused town of Aldermere is the first place eleven-year-old Fin has ever felt safe–and she’ll do whatever it takes to save her home when she accidentally unleashes a shadow self who wreaks havoc everywhere she goes. Emily Lloyd-Jones’s middle grade debut is an enchanting exploration of self-discovery and finding the place you truly belong. Unseen Magic is for fans of A Wish in the Dark and A Tangle of Knots. Aldermere is a town with its own set of rules: there’s a tea shop that vanishes if you try to force your way in, crows that must be fed or they’ll go through your trash, and a bridge that has a toll that no one knows the cost of. Some say that there may even be bigfoots wandering through the woods.For Fin, Aldermere is her new home. But she’s worried that she’ll do something to mess it up–that she was the reason she and her mother have constantly moved from place to place for so long. When an upcoming presentation at her school’s science fair gives her increasing anxiety, Fin turns to magic to ease her fears. The cost is a memory, but there are things from her past Fin doesn’t mind forgetting. This will be the last time she relies on magic anyway, she’s sure. Except things don’t go exactly as planned. And instead of easing her anxiety, Fin accidentally unleashes an evil doppelganger. Suddenly Aldermere is overrun with unusual occurrences–and Fin is the only one who knows why. She will have to face her fears–literally–to stop it.Emily Lloyd-Jones crafts an atmospheric novel full of magic and mischief while exploring what it means to stand up to your fears and accept yourself. Unseen Magic will captivate readers of Anna Meriano’s Love, Sugar, Magic series and Natalie Lloyd’s A Snicker of Magic.

  • Wonder - Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.

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The King Who Banned the Dark
Written & illustrated by Emily Haworth-Booth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Once there was a Prince who was afraid of the dark–like so many children are. But this boy became King and actually did something about it: he banned the dark completely! Soon, the sleep-deprived, exhausted citizens are ready to revolt. Can the people help the King face his fears and see that you can’t appreciate the light without having the dark, too?

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A Bedtime Yarn
Written by Nicola Winstanley & illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Like a well-worn, snuggly blanket, this sweet bedtime story about a little bear who’s afraid of the dark and his mother’s creative solution will warm and comfort readers big and small.

Frankie is a little bear who has a hard time falling asleep. The dark is scary, and he hates to be alone. So his mother gives him a ball of yarn to hold when he goes to bed, and she keeps the other end in the next room, working it into a surprise for Frankie.

Every few nights the yarn color changes, and Frankie dreams in all the colors that he and his mother pick out. One night he’s swimming in turquoise water, another night he’s in a cool gray fog. He plays with a marmalade kitten and eats delicious chocolate cake. Eventually Frankie and his mother create something special–and Frankie learns that he’s always connected to those he loves, even when he’s alone in the dark.

A beautiful story of love and crafting, A Bedtime Yarn will appeal to knitters, sleepy little bears and any parents dealing with their child’s fear of the dark.

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Let's Go, Hugo!
Written & illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
Hugo is a bird that's afraid to fly. I love this story, because he faces his fears and ends up so happy once he's learned how to fly. I also love that he has such wonderful friends along the way that help him practice and help him through his nerves when he's scared. Sometimes it's helpful to have friends that can help you to overcome your fears. :) Plus, the illustrations in this story based in Paris are gorgeous!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Hugo is a dapper little bird who adores the Eiffel Tower—or at least his view of it from down here. Hugo, you see, has never left the ground. So when he meets another bird, the determined Lulu, who invites him to fly with her to the top of the tower, Hugo stalls, persuading Lulu to see, on foot, every inch of the park in which he lives instead. Will a nighttime flying lesson from Bernard the Owl, some sweet and sensible encouragement from Lulu, and some extra pluck from Hugo himself finally give this bird the courage he needs to spread his wings and fly?

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The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Whangdoodle was once the wisest, the kindest, and the most extraordinary creature in the world. Then he disappeared and created a wonderful land for himself and all the other remarkable animals – the ten-legged Sidewinders, the little furry Flukes, the friendly Whiffle Bird, and the treacherous, “oily” Prock. It was an almost perfect place where the last of the really great Whangdoodles could rule his kingdom with “peace, love and a sense of fun”– apart from and forgotten by people. But not completely forgotten. Professor Savant believed in the Whangdoodle. And when he told the three Potter children of his search for the spectacular creature, Lindy, Tom, and Ben were eager to reach Whangdoodleland. With the Professor’s help, they discovered the secret way. But waiting for them was the scheming Prock, who would use almost any means to keep them away from his beloved king. Only by skill and determination were the four travelers able to discover the last of the really great Whangdoodles and grant him his heart’s desire. Julie Andrews Edwards, star of stage and screen, has written a unique and beloved story that has become a modern classic. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles is sure to continue to delight readers everywhere. This edition includes a new foreword by the author.

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Jabari Jumps
Written & illustrated by Gaia Cornwall
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This was a fantastic book about conquering your fear. The illustrations are so fun—I love all of the different angles and perspectives the illustrator shows Jabari's situation from and how that really pulls you into the story. Jabari's dad is patient and understanding, and doesn't tell Jabari to just hurry up and jump, but waits for him to be ready and coaches him through a technique that might help him be ready to make the leap.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash.

Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

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  • Little Home Bird - Little Bird loves everything about his home. He’s surrounded by his favourite branch, his favourite food, his favourite view and his favourite music. Why on earth would he ever want to change, even when his brother tells him that they must? Discover how Little Bird ends up finding happiness in his new home from home in this beautifully illustrated picture book. Perfect for all children who love home, however many they may have.

  • Dad and the Dinosaur - A heartwarming father-son story about bravery and facing fears. Nicholas was afraid of the dark outside his door, the bushes where the giant bugs live, and the underside of manhole covers. His dad was not afraid of anything. Nicholas wants to be as brave as his dad, but he needs help. That’s why he needs a dinosaur. After all, dinosaurs like the dark, bugs are nothing to them, and they eat manhole covers for lunch (and everything under them for dinner). With his toy dinosaur, Nicholas can scale tall walls, swim in deep water, even score a goal against the huge goalie everyone calls Gorilla. But when the dinosaur goes missing, everything is scary again. Luckily, his dad knows that even the bravest people can get scared, and it’s okay to ask for help facing your fears. It’s just guy stuff.

  • Lionheart - The Book Snob Mom -

    The illustrations in this book are gorgeously rich and detailed and add reality to this story of imagination and conquering fears. Richard's lion (Lionheart) was reminiscent of Aslan (of The Chronicles of Narnia) to me in his protection and empowerment of the little boy in facing his own fears, which made the story even more powerful and meaningful to me personally.

  • A Little Chicken - Dot is a small chick who’s scared of lots of things: wolves, bears, the occasional lawn ornament. But when an egg rolls out of her mother’s nest, Dot must pluck up her courage to save the day–and her new sibling! Perfect for kids who need some encouragement to face the challenging world, this story proves that sometimes a big hero is just a little chicken.

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Thunder Cake
Written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A loud clap of thunder booms, and rattles the windows of Grandma’s old farmhouse. “This is Thunder Cake baking weather,” calls Grandma, as she and her granddaughter hurry to gather the ingredients around the farm. A real Thunder Cake must reach the oven before the storm arrives. But the list of ingredients is long and not easy to find . . . and the storm is coming closer all the time!

Reaching once again into her rich childhood experience, Patricia Polacco tells the memorable story of how her grandma–her Babushka–helped her overcome her fear of thunder when she was a little girl. Ms. Polacco’s vivid memories of her grandmother’s endearing answer to a child’s fear, accompanied by her bright folk-art illustrations, turn a frightening thunderstorm into an adventure and ultimately . . . a celebration!

Whether the first clap of thunder finds you buried under the bedcovers or happily anticipating the coming storm, Thunder Cake is a story that will bring new meaning and possibility to the excitement of a thunderstorm.

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Chicken Lily
Written by Lori Mortensen & illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Chicken Lily may be a lot of things—a careful colorer, a patient puzzler, and a quiet hide-and-seeker (she never made a peep!)—but brave has never been one of them. That’s why, when a school-wide poetry jam is announced in class, Lily is terrified. Will she sound like a bird brain?

Although Lily’s friends Baabette and Pigsley try to encourage her, Lily feels like a rotten egg. Finally, Lily realizes that she must put her best claw forward and prove that even chickens aren’t chicken all the time.

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What Do You Do with a Problem?
Written by Kobi Yamada & illustrated by Mae Besom
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What do you do with a problem? Especially one that follows you around and doesn’t seem to be going away? Do you worry about it? Ignore it? Do you run and hide from it? This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn’t so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It’s a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it’s here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem and yourself. What are problems for? They challenge us, shape us, push us, and help us to discover just how strong and brave and capable we really are. Even though we don’t always want them, problems have a way of bringing unexpected gifts. So, what will you do with your problem?

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Mary Wears What She Wants
Written & illustrated by Keith Negley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Once upon a time (but not too long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants. Until one day, a young girl named Mary had a bold idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants! Inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants, this fresh, charming picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.

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Too Shy for Show-and-Tell
Written by Beth Bracken & illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Sam is so shy that nobody knows much about him, but when he must stand in front of his class for show-and-tell, he finds the courage to share.

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  • Shark Nate-O - Nate loves sharks. He reads shark books every day, watches sharks on TV, and talks about them nonstop. He even likes to pretend he’s a shark wherever he goes! However, there is one small problem. . . . Nate can’t swim. When his older brother points this out, Nate works hard to overcome his fears and learn how to blow bubbles, use a kickboard, and finally swim without help, as quickly and as gracefully as a shark. Will he be able to beat his brother in a swim tryout and get his bite back? Kids will love this jawsome book complete with vibrant and whimsical art and a list of shark facts in the back!

  • Lottie & Walter - An original, compelling, and visually stunning treatment of a common childhood predicament: overcoming a fear of the water. Lottie goes to swim lessons every Saturday, but she never gets in the water. That’s because she is convinced there is a shark in the pool, a shark that wants to eat her and only her. But then Walter appears. Walter likes singing and reading books and bubble baths, and his favorite food is fish sticks, just like Lottie. When Saturday rolls around again, Lottie is no more ready to jump in the pool than she was before. Or is she? Sometimes it just takes a special friend to find the courage that was inside you all along.

  • Hi, I’m Norman: The Story of American Illustrator Norman Rockwell - “An inviting and admiring introduction to an important American artist.” —Kirkus Reviews From award-winning author Robert Burleigh comes a striking, intimate picture book biography about an American icon—beloved artist Norman Rockwell. Norman Rockwell is best known for capturing the American spirit as a painter and illustrator in the late twentieth century. This beautifully illustrated, first-person narrative explores Rockwell’s life in episodes based on important moments in American history. Norman Rockwell is not only a great American artist, but he also successfully chronicled two generations of American life, making him one of the most beloved and well-known American artists of all time.

  • Madeline Finn and the Library Dog - Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. But she DOES want a gold star from her teacher. But, stars are for good readers. Stars are for understanding words, and for saying them out loud. Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn’t so bad; when Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn’t mind. As it turns out, it’s fun to read when you’re not afraid of making mistakes. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it’s okay to go slow. And to keep trying. With endearing illustrations, Lisa Papp brings an inspiring and comforting book to all new readers who just need a little confidence to overcome their fears.

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Orion and the Dark
Written & illustrated by Emma Yarlett
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This is just an amazing book all around: the illustrations are gorgeous and unique and the story is fantastic as well, with a great message! Orion is afraid of so many things, but especially the dark until The Dark comes to visit him. The cheerful personification of the dark looks absolutely huggable and I love how together they conquer Orion's fear by discovering the truth of each aspect of the dark that terrifies him—knowledge is power.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Orion is very scared of the dark—until Dark decides to pay him a visit!

Orion is scared of a lot of things, but most of all he’s scared of the dark. So one night the Dark decides to take Orion on an adventure. Emma Yarlett’s second picture book combines her incredible storytelling and artwork with die-cut pages that bring the Dark to life.

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Hopper and Wilson
Written & illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
Thoughts from Mom of Boys
I really like this book. As Hopper and Wilson set out on their adventure they are not afraid of anything. Their sight is completely set on the good that could be at the end of the world. I love this optimism. When they come across some trouble they don't hide or shrink, but they look for a solution and try to find one another. I think it gives the reader reason and hope in focusing on the good in the world and not worrying or fearing what may come.
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A playful tale about friendship and home

“What,” Hopper asks his little friend Wilson, “do you think it’s like at the end of the world?” Hopper, the blue elephant, imagines a staircase to the moon, while Wilson, the yellow mouse, hopes for an endless supply of lemonade. So the two sail off in a boat made of paper . . . only to discover they already have everything they could wish for in each other, and at home. Maria van Lieshout’s adorable new picture book tugs at heartstrings, inspires discussion, and reminds us all how good returning home can feel.

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The Doll People
Written by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin & illustrated by Brian Selznick
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
When Annabelle Doll finds out she might have a missing Aunt Doll somewhere in the house, she decides to face everyone's biggest fear: leaving the dollhouse. Not only does Annabelle end up facing her fear, but she rallies together the entire Doll family and inspires them to face their fears on the quest to find their missing family member. They have to face cats, breaking, getting around, humans, among other things, but they show bravery, courage, and dedication in their goal.
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-11

Annabelle Doll is eight years old-she has been for more than a hundred years. Not a lot has happened to her, cooped up in the dollhouse, with the same doll family, day after day, year after year. . . until one day the Funcrafts move in.

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Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats
Written by Alicia Potter & illustrated by Birgitta Sif
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A tale with many tails, perfect for cat lovers everywhere!

Miss Hazeltine is opening a very special school for shy and fearful cats. They come from all over, and Miss Hazeltine gives them lessons in everything, from “Bird Basics” to “How Not to Fear the Broom.”

The most timid of all is Crumb. He cowers in a corner. Miss Hazeltine doesn’t mind. But when she gets in trouble and only Crumb knows where she is, will he find his inner courage and lead a daring rescue?

Filled with adorable illustrations and ideal for fans of Disappearing Desmond and The Invisible Boy, Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats is a story that’s perfect for shy and fearful children as it both helps them face scary situations and accepts them just as they are.

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Giant Dance Party
Written by Betsy Bird & illustrated by Brandon Dorman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Betsy Bird knows all there is to know about kids and books. She is the New York Public Library’s youth collections specialist, she writes a blog hosted by School Library Journal, and has served on the Newbery Medal committee. Now Betsy Bird has written a children’s book of her own, Giant Dance Party. In this rollicking picture book, a group of giants shows up at Lexy’s door wanting dance lessons. After some initial hesitation, Lexy is happy to teach them, and her dance classes end with all her students—as well as Lexy herself—overcoming their fears and putting on a boogying performance. Brandon Dorman, an award-winning artist whose work can be found in The Wizard, and on the covers of Fablehaven and Goosebumps, brings the giants and their dance moves to life with his full-color illustrations.

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  • Somewhere Else - George has absolutely no interest in exploring the world. None at all. He’s far too busy enjoying his home life and baking delicious pastries. Or so he tells all his friends when they invite him along on their wonderful adventures. But when George’s friend Pascal digs a little deeper, the real reason George refuses to travel away from home is finally revealed . . . From the children’s book author of the acclaimed Herman and Rosie comes Gus Gordon’s Somewhere Else.

  • Pablo in the Snow - What is soft, fluffy, and white? Pablo’s wool, of course. But this little lamb soon discovers that there’s something else as well: SNOW! From making trails to sledding with friends, having snowball fights and crafting snowmen, there’s tons of fun to be had in the snow. But winter days grow dark very fast, and Pablo finds himself lost on his way home. Not to worry―Mama and Papa help Pablo get back to the cozy barn so he can talk about his adventures.

  • Lifeboat 12 - In the tradition of The War That Saved My Life and Stella By Starlight, this poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II. With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones—one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada. Life aboard the luxury ship is grand—nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum’s glare. And after five days at sea, the ship’s officers announce that they’re out of danger. They’re wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They’ve been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive? Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.

  • This Is MY Room! - Jojo’s ready for her first night all alone in her very own room, but a menagerie of animals have other ideas in this charming and fun picture book. Jojo can’t wait to spend the night in her very own bed in her very own room. She doesn’t care what her big sister Margaret says, she’s NOT afraid and she WON’T be back to the bedroom they used to share. There’s just one problem though—there are intruders in her new room! A lion, a bear, and a very persistent tiger seem to think this is THEIR room, not Jojo’s. Is Margaret right? Is Jojo not quite ready to spend the night on her own? Or can Jojo find a way to show that trespassing tiger just who’s boss in HER room?

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Brave As Can Be: A Book of Courage
Written by Jo Witek & illustrated by Christine Roussey
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
The illustrations in this book are simultaneously spunky, charming and engaging! The story is a great read aloud and feels very conversational as if one child was telling another child their wisdom gained so far. I love how it addresses so many common childhood fears, while simultaneously providing perspective and some tricks for dealing with them without seeming preachy or condescending.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

From the author and illustrator of the bestselling In My Heart!

The life of a toddler can be full of frightening things: the dark, the neighbor’s dog, and thunderstorms, just to name a few. As children get older, they begin to feel braver around these everyday events, but how do they build this newfound confidence? In this lyrical, insightful picture book, an older sister explains to her younger sister all the things she used to be afraid of, along with some tricks to help, whether it’s a special blanket for bedtime or singing during a storm. Now, big sister assures little sister, the fears that once felt as big as a mountain feel as minuscule as a speck of dust.

This playful portrait of fear and bravery empowers young readers to confront once-scary situations and, with charming illustrations and die-cuts throughout, is also beautifully packaged.

The Growing Hearts series celebrates the milestones of a toddler’s emotional development, from conquering fears and expressing feelings to welcoming a new sibling.

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Ollie's Odyssey
Written by William Joyce
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-11

From the creator of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and The Guardians of Childhood comes a grand adventure of valor, friendship, and a look into the mysterious world of favorite toys.

In the secret realm of toys, there are many mysteries.

There is the Code of the Toys, which is as ancient as childhood.

There’s also the magic of becoming a child’s favorite, the highest honor in the Toy World.

Made by hand by Billy’s mother, Ollie is a special toy, “a toy who will matter.” He becomes Billy’s best friend, confidant, pal, and yes, Billy’s “favorite.”

But there are villains in the Toy World, and Zozo, the clown king, is the most feared. He and his toy henchman (the Creeps) have sworn to steal and imprison favorite toys until they forget their children and become forever lost.

When Ollie is toynapped, Billy must rescue his beloved favorite from Zozo’s subterranean lair in the old Carnival Place, past the park, through the woods, and into the night.

Never has a journey of ten blocks been more epic.

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Marc's Mission
Written by Jocko Willink & illustrated by Jon Bozak
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

New York Times-bestselling author Jocko Willink delivers a second powerful and empowering Way of the Warrior Kid book about finding your inner strength and being the best you can be, even in the face of adversity in Marc’s Mission.

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Mighty Jack and the Goblin King
Written & illustrated by Ben Hatke
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Like a bolt from the blue, Jack’s little sister Maddy is gone—carried into another realm by an ogre. When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive. Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters—as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below. But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king! Ben Hatke, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Zita the Spacegirl, concludes his latest middle-grade fantasy-adventure graphic novel series, Mighty Jack, with the energetic finale to his retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk.

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Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?
Written by Martin Waddell & illustrated by Barbara Firth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

“I don’t like the dark,” said Little Bear. “What dark?” said Big Bear. “The dark all around us,” said Little Bear.

In this tender account of a sleepless night in the bear cave, Big Bear sets out with all his patience and understanding to show Little Bear that the dark is nothing to be afraid of. When all the lanterns in the cave aren’t enough to quell Little Bear’s troubled emotions, Big Bear offers—in a final loving gesture—nothing less than the bright yellow moon and the twinkling stars! More comforting than even the best of lullabies, this bedtime story is destined to become a classic.

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