Slip one or more of these kid's books about anxiety into your reading time as a conversation starter about how to deal with different types of stress.

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Even typically carefree children may be feeling stressed these days. Not only have their routines changed due to social distancing rules, but they’ve been separated from friends and extended family, says Parents advisor Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., a child psychologist. Kids and parents alike are also coping with unprecedented fear and sadness witnessing acts of violence and racism around the United States. But you're not alone, and the right book may help.

Scaredy Squirrel Book Cover, Ruby Finds a Worry Book Cover, and the Huge Bag of Worries Book Cover
Credit: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Photos Courtesy of Kids Can Press, Bloomsbury Children's Books, and Hachette Children's

If you're having trouble finding the words to talk about the stress your family is feeling, consider one of these stories. Whether your child is anxious about germs at the park or uncomfortable talking about big feelings they may be having, reading one of these children's books about anxiety may help them process their emotions.

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Ruby Finds a Worry Book
Credit: Bloomsbury Children's Books

Ruby Finds a Worry written and illustrated by Tom Percival

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Best for: Kids who are reluctant to talk

Ruby’s worry, drawn as a sad yellow blob, prevents her from doing the things she used to love. Then she meets someone who also has a worry (his is blue) and sees her worry shrink as—moral of the story—they open up to each other.

Huge Bag of Worries Book
Credit: Hachette Children's

The Huge Bag of Worries written by Virginia Ironside, illustrated by Frank Rodgers

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Best for: Kids who seem overwhelmed

In this book that helps explain what it feels like to carry around a lot of worries, the main character, Jenny, realizes that there are different ways of dealing with what’s bothering her. A neighbor helps Jenny see that some of her worries don’t even “belong” to her.

Scaredy Squirrel Book
Credit: Kids Can Press

Scaredy Squirrel written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt

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Best for: Kids who are nervous about leaving the house

A squirrel fears leaving his tree because of germs, killer bees, and green Martians—and the sight of just a single bee causes him to get out a giant emergency kit. “This book is a humorous but wise exploration of the fundamental truth that facing our fears is how we overcome them,” says Dr. Kennedy-Moore.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's July 2020 issue as “Kids and Anxiety.” Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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