It is normal for children to feel worried or anxious when faced with new or challenging circumstances but if that feeling of anxiety regularly interferes with their day to day life then they might be suffering from anxiety.
One small change you can make is to switch their bedtime reading to a book which is specifically written for the anxious child. Here I have listed the 5 best books for children with anxiety which may help calm the anxious child’s mind before bed.
1. The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig
Matt Haig has written his way through his own mental health struggles in his best selling books ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ and ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’. The Truth Pixie is his first illustrated book and is a book confronting anxiety using the metaphor of a pixie.
“Bedtime is a time when children’s heads are full of fears, and those don’t go away by just ignoring them. They go away by talking about them, externalising them and dealing with them.”Matt Haig
2. The Lion Inside by Rachael Bright
‘The Lion Inside’ is a bright picture book, perfect for reading aloud to the younger child. It challenges the idea that people who seem strong and capable (the lion) are not hiding their own worries and insecurities and that those who seem meek and fearful (the mouse) aren’t capable of having their own courageous lion hiding inside.
3. What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner
This book isn’t so much of a bedtime story as it is a means to use activities to guide your child’s understanding of their anxiety. ‘What to do when you worry too much’ is more for older children who are able to write and/or illustrate their worries and is written by a Psychologist who will help you understand your child’s thought process.
4.Under the Love Umbrella by Allison Colpoys & Davina Bell
This could potentially help a child suffering from separation anxiety. ‘Under the Love Umbrella’ explores how everyone’s experience of a ‘love umbrella’ may be different but that love is ever present.
5. Is a Worry Worrying You? By Ferida Wolff
‘Is a Worry Worrying you?‘ Is a humorous picture book which uses imagination to encourage children to use problem-solving to settle their worried minds.
When we read regularly to children we are teaching them that they can access any country, time or place via their imaginations anytime they need to. When our children are using their imaginations for positive and creative purposes then they are less likely to allow their minds to wander to things that they find fearful and anxiety provoking. No-one says it better than the Truth Pixie author, Matt Haig, who said the following in an article for The Guardian:
“Imagination is the flipside of anxiety. Obviously if you’re anxious, you’re imagining stuff all the time. You need to fill that imaginative space with positive, fun, nourishing stuff and books can give you that. Through fiction, you can escape into a world that isn’t your life, but can help you to deal with it. And that applies as much to a seven-year-old as it does to a 70-year-old.”Matt Haig
Do you have any other suggestions for good reads for anxious minds? We’d love to hear them!