Books about Fear

Dec 17, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Book Picks

Fear is a common challenge for parents of preschoolers, as changes in circumstances and environment can cause your child to become unsettled. Children often experience fear of the dark, fear of storms or fear of the unknown. One way to deal with childhood fears is to share a book about a character that faces a similar challenge and talk about what caused their fear and how the character addressed it. This can help to normalize and affirm your child’s own experience as real, and can help you talk together about strategies for dealing with fears in the real world. Each of these books features characters that find good solutions for situations where they feel afraid, or are able to realize that the dreaded ‘insert terrible thing here’ is not so scary after all.

Scaredy SquirrelScaredy Squirrel, by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel is afraid of everything, especially the unknown. As a result, he never leaves his nut tree and his days are predictable and pretty boring. Although Scaredy Squirrel weighs the advantages and disadvantages of leaving the tree by listing the pros and cons, he decides that “all is under control” if he stays put. Just in case, Scaredy Squirrel also has an emergency kit handy to deal with any potential hazards. His exit plan contains 6 steps, the last of which is to “exit tree (if there is absolutely, definitely, truly, no other option).” Everything is turned upside down when one day a killer bee appears, Scaredy Squirrel and falls out of the tree gliding through the air. Surprisingly, Scaredy Squirrel feels adventurous and overjoyed, so he decides to make some drastic changes. This delightful book will have your child giggling about Scaredy Squirrel’s checklists and preparedness, and the laughter may just continue as your child’s fear cure! Visit the Scaredy Squirrel site to see other books in the series, and create your own emergency kit.


The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, by Jill TomlinsonThe Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark

Plop is a baby barn owl who is afraid of the dark. When he tells his mom about the fear, she responds, “I think you’d better find out more about the dark first.” So Plop visits a variety of friends who each him a reason for the importance of the dark. He learns that the dark is fun because Boy Scouts can sing around the campfire, and it’s necessary because otherwise Santa couldn’t come. After several nights of investigation, Plot declares that “the dark is just right” and embraces the fact that he is a night bird. The gorgeous illustrations by Paul Howard capture the range of Plop’s expressions and whimsically glow with the light of a fire, and stars in the night sky. This book is a great example of exploring a fear in order to better understand it, and may invite your child to see her fears in a whole new light.

Thunder cakeThunder Cake, by Patricia Polacco

Grandma finds her granddaughter hiding under the bed in response to the crashing thunder of a coming storm. The very wise Grandma teaches the child how to count the number of seconds between the flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder in order to calculate the distance of the storm. She says its time to make thunder cake, and sends the child on several tasks to gather the ingredients for Thunder Cake.  The duo must gather eggs, milk the cow, and retrieve the chocolate, sugar, and flour from the dry cellar. The child is frightened by each BOOOM-BA-BOOM of the thunder, but grandma stays by her side and reminds her of the task at hand. This distraction pays off in the form of a delicious cake with a special secret ingredient. At the end of the story, grandma tells the girl that she’s very brave, and recounts all the tasks she was able to complete in the midst of her fear. The story ends with grandma’s complete recipe, a perfect way for you to spend a rainy afternoon with your fearful preschooler.

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears, by Emily GravettLittle Mouse's Big Book of Fears

The author begins with this note on the inside cover: “Everyone is scared of something. Living with fear can make even the bravest person feel small.” This book functions as both a dictionary of fears, and a series of journal prompts. It’s my favorite in the list because it invites immediate interaction with the text. Each page features a different fear, from arachnophobia (fear of spiders), to sciaphobia (fear of shadows). Little Mouse has nervously chewed off the edges of several pages, made notes, drawn pictures, and collected documents about each fear. There are postcards, maps, and newspaper articles to fold out and explore. The author invites the reader to overcome his or her own fears through the use of art by drawing, writing or collage. She has even left space on each page for that activity (if you have your own copy of the book), but you can also check out the library’s copy and create a fear journal of your very own.

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