Worries, Anxiety, and Fear

Fear underlies SO many of the issues, difficulties, challenges, concerns and behaviors that I see kids (and adults!) about and work with them to manage. They dance the What-If two step (What if this and what if that?), wracked with worry which, in turn, adds to their anxiety. So I've combed the literature for a few gems that I use to help open up the discussion and take a practical look at what we're afraid of and what we can do about it.  
Check out You've Got Dragons by Kathryn Cave.

I cannot tell you how excited I was when I found this book, in part because I totally LOVE Something Else, one of this author's other titles! But this hot metaphor for something that scares us is so catchy and clever that kids connect instantly to the boy and his dragons.  And guess what?  It acts like truth syrum because after we read it, students can fairly easily tell me what their dragons are and draw them out in detail. Then I can help them capture the dragons and put them in a safe place until they're ready to let go. And who among us doesn't have at least one fire-breathing dragon lying around? You've GOT to get this book!

Another go-to book I use to tackle this top is Is A Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz because it takes a rather humorous look at the way worries, anxieties, and fear can follow us around and lurk in places where we least expect them. Your students will undoubtedly enjoy looking for the worry on every page.

The counselor in me appreciates the built-in strategies for dealing with the worry and ultimately sending it packing.

My third pick is What Was I Scared Of? by Dr. Seuss. In this classic, the little Sneetch is scared out of his pants by . . . a pair of pants, of course!  It's a hilarious look at the real but often times absurd nature of our worries and fears. I use this one with the older students because, much like Dragons, it's a higher-level metaphor.

Finally, an oldie but goodies that I actually used my senior year  in high school (I said it was OLD!) for State Forensics Storytelling competition:  
Harry and the Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach.

In this treasure, Harry has an unfounded fear of the unknown in the basement based on what he knows: "It was dark, and it was damp, and it smelled."  I found humor and substance in this book when I was a teenager and I stand by it now as one of my favorite books with a 
conquer-your-fears-before-they-conquer-you theme. The ending is priceless because Harry actually gives the Whatzit a tip about where to go next because Sheldon Parker's "afraid of everything."  Too cute!

As always, if a child's worry, anxiety or fear is extreme and keeps him or her from successfully navigating through normal daily routines, please consult with a certified counselor or a play therapist.


  1. Super book recommendations. I'm going to pin them. Thanks!
    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers

  2. I always enjoy hearing what books you're using to help kids be at their best. Thanks again.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  3. Barbara, Thank you for always sharing such great resources, ideas, and encouragement! You give us such wonderful ways to help shape our students into the wonderful kids with character they are trying to be!


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