5 books for anxious school joiners


Whether it is starting school or back to school the transition into the classroom can be tricky for some, especially after an extended summer break. Routines are disrupted, friendships may have waned over the holidays and the butterflies are starting to gather as the first day looms. 

These books are tried and tested and come highly recommended as a place to start when tackling school anxiety; they are also helpful conversation starters surrounding big feelings. Remember that it's OK for your child not to feel OK about returning to school: validate the emotion, help the child explore it and show them that they are not alone. 

My Monster and Me (Age 3 - 5)

Nadiya Hussain

Written by national treasure Nadiya Hussain, this book on anxiety is written from the heart as Nadiya has suffered with it for most of her life. A short and simple story about a worry monster that follows a boy around until he shares it with his Grandma. A brilliant message about how sharing worries makes them more manageable and a clever way to introduce coping mechanisms to children. A favourite of teachers at circle time! 

The Invisible String (Age 4 - 7)

Patrice Karst

Not only touching on separation anxiety, but also loss, loneliness and grief, this bestseller has brought great comfort to hundreds of thousands of families. It tells of the constant connection between us and our loved ones via an invisible string - no matter what distance. A simple message of unending love, it resonates today more than ever. 

The Colour Monster (Age 2 - 5 years) 

Anna Llenas

A colourful celebration of emotions! A simple and easy introduction to labeling feelings via the colour monster. There is also a ‘The Colour Monster Goes to School’ version, a sequel to the first book, which demystifies potential points of anxiety for children and instead paints the first school days as ones filled with exciting adventures. 

The Worrysaurus (Ages 3-6)

Rachel Bright

An adorable rhyming book about a Worrysaurus who worries about what may go wrong - the more he worries the bigger the worry butterfly gets inside. The metaphors in the story will resonate clearly with little ones who have felt the same physical symptoms of anxiety and this will broaden language around worrying. From the author of another one of our recommendations - The Lion Inside. 

Ruby’s Worry (Ages 3 - 7) 

Tom Percival

Tom Percival’s Big Bright Feeling series explores big feelings in easy to access words and beautiful illustrations. As Ruby’s worry follows her around and she tries to shrug it off it just gets bigger and bigger, but we all know that a problem shared is a problem halved. A sensitive dive into feelings around anxiety with lots of conversation starter opportunities, even with younger children.

The Lion Inside (Ages 1-4)

Rachel Bright

Big people don't get scared - do they? Join a shy little mouse on a journey of confidence, self esteem and self acceptance as he learns how to use his voice. A heartwarming tale that will inspire young hearts and minds to remember ‘You don’t have to be BIG and BRAVE to find your ROAR.’ 

Being able to sit with feelings, name them and reflect on them is a powerful tool to equip children with and these books are an excellent starting point. Start reading over summer to turn first day nerves into first day excitement!

Borrow from your local library or support your local bookshop and purchase at bookshop.org.

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