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Books that reduce worries

I’m just coming to the end of the new book I’m writing – No Worries – How to beat teenage anxiety, to be published late next summer. I love that stage of being nearly at the end of a book and feeling very confident (which doesn’t always happen!) that it’s come out pretty much as well as I’d hoped. The imperfections will be ironed out by me and my brilliant editor, Alice. But this is also the stage where I want to put together a ‘further resources’ list.

I’d love your help. School librarians, now is your chance to show what you know! And anyone else who has that appreciation and knowledge of modern children’s literature. If you don’t but you know a woman or man who does, please forward this to them!

What I’m (probably) NOT looking for

I say ‘probably’ because I don’t want to exclude anything exceptional but I do have enough (probably). So, probably not:

  • General mental health websites – I probably have enough and I feel it’s best just to focus on a few absolutely key ones.
  • Resources that are only suitable for adults – this book will be read by adults but it’s mostly for young people.
  • Resources that are aimed primarily at much younger children – say, younger than 10.
  • Other non-fiction books – I’m writing the best one! I have included an anxiety workbook, as that’s very different.

What I AM looking for:

  • Novels or poetry books that fit these criteria:
    • Suitable for either 10-13 or 12-16 or 15+
    • UPLIFTING and safe – I personally love dark, edgy fiction but this is not what I’m looking for. For this situation, I want books which a worried reader can read safely. That doesn’t mean there’s no suspense, just no awful things that might increase anxiety. I think it’s ok if the awful thing has already happened – for example, many stories begin with parents having died.
    • Featuring a character who is anxious – either about something specific or just an anxious person – so that a reader can see themselves reflected
    • BUT, since readers who are anxious about something do sometimes want to read about that thing, I’m not excluding triggering topics: they just need to be handled with extreme sensitivity and warmth. Perhaps the ‘difficult’ aspect is only a part of the story, is not too scary, and the main drama comes from something else.
  • Exceptional websites about a specific aspect of anxiety (such as social anxiety, phobias, time scarcity), suitable for young people to read (even if not specifically written for them)

What I’ve found is that publishers do a lot of wonderful books about ‘worry’ for younger children (see below) but not so much for a much greater demographic: worried teenagers. So I’m looking for gentle, reassuring, uplifting materials. Think comforting bath instead of skydiving!

Think: what book would you give as a present to an anxious young relative, a book for them to enjoy, rather than explicitly to teach them something.

Reading without worries

If you have any ideas, please put them in the comments below. I can’t promise to include everything but I will try. And I will be grateful for your ideas. Thank you!


School librarians in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, look out for a giveaway of Ten Ways to Build a Brilliant Brain on Twitter next week! (Scottish schools have already had this and five lucky schools won books.)

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3 Responses

  1. Here are some I’ve been sent on Facebook. I don’t mind where you send them to me – I’ll put them here!
    o Smash Your Worries, Bella! by Kelly McKain and Jenny Latham – 8-10
    o Three Girls by Katie Clapham – 11-16
    o Electrigirl series by Jo Cotterill and Cathy Brett – 8-11

    I also add Danny Chung Does Not DO Maths by Maisie Chan and her Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu – 9-12

  2. The Blackthorn Branch by Elen Caldecott is suitable for 10- 13 year-olds. My book-worm eleven-year-olds enjoyed it enormously, as did I. The main character is very worried about her brother and the story revolves around her efforts to help him. It was written during Lockdown and this comes across very clearly. It has a happy ending. Yay.

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