We all know that uncomfortable feeling of fear, uncertainty and anxiety. This collection of stories highlights many ways to deal with and overcome these overwhelming feelings. Whether it’s moving to a new house, starting a new school, fear of the unknown, hiding from bullies or monsters under the bed, we can all relate to these uncomfortable and unsettling fears. Reading together or sharing a story about fears is a wonderful way to connect and discuss the things that might be troubling you, especially something you can’t see but is vivid in your imagination. Often through reading about another person’s trials and tribulations can be comforting and cathartic, especially for younger children still grappling with their emotions and finding the words to talk about them.
2+: Me and My Fear by Francesca Sanna, is a simple yet powerful picturebook about how fears can grow until you share them with a friend. Alone! by Barry Falls centres on Billy’s love of living alone away from noise and the busy city until a variety of animals decide to move in. Finn’s First Song by Gerry Daly is an undersea adventure about overcoming fears and finding your voice.
5–8: Fearless Mirabelle by Katie Haworth and illustrated by Nila Aye highlights that fear comes in different ways, even if you are an identical twin. Imagine! by Patricia Forde, illustrated by Elīna Braslina is a truly wonderful story with arresting and humorous illustrations that draw you straight in. Brave Molly focuses on reluctant speakers and how fear can make you lose your words.
8–10: Read about Ruby who must overcome her fears in order to protect her family in When the Mountains Roared by Jess Butterworth and Rob Biddulph. Join McTavish the wonderful dog as he finds ways to settle Betty’s fears of moving to a new home and a new school in McTavish on the Move by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by David Shephard. Or learn about Matthew and how he starts to cope with his fears as he begins to solve a mystery in Lisa Thompson’s Goldfish Boy.
10+: Guts by Raina Telgemeier is a funny graphic novel, which shows how fears can impact your body and mind. Stick Boy by Paul Coomey is a humorous and thought-provoking tale about sticking out and the ultimate power of friendship.
For more recommendations, pick up a copy of Books Make Things Better available in libraries and bookshops or available to download on our website. For more, please visit our website: https://childrensbooksireland.ie/
Síne Quinn, a Children’s Books Ireland book doctor, is the managing editor at Cubicle 7 and creative writing facilitator, whose latest title Holy Shocking Saints: The Extraordinary Lives of Twelve Irish Saints is illustrated by Margaret Anne Suggs and published by Veritas.
Finn’s First Song by Gerry Daly, The O’Brien Press, ISBN 9781788491914
From one of the creators of Where Are You Puffling? Gerry Daly is back creating another splash! This time it’s with an amazing under sea journey and a joyful discovery. Finn’s First Song will captive young readers. When Finn gets lost and is scared, an array of sea creatures offer advice and try to help him overcome his fears and find a way to get his parents’ attention. Packed full of bright, charming illustrations of friendly sea creatures and fascinating whale facts, this book is an uplifting story that will be enjoyed by readers of all ages. 3+
Imagine! by Patricia Forde, illustrated by Elīna Braslina, Little Island Books, ISBN 9781912417483
‘So I closed my eyes and imagined as hard as ever could. I’m not afraid of creepy old ghosts now.’ There’s nothing quite like using the power of your imagination to overcome your fears. Super-talented storyteller Patricia Forde is back with another stellar story with a creative and powerful message. From ghosts eating ice-cream cones to vampires in bonnets with soothers, Imagine! is a heart-warming story highlighting an easy and imaginative way to overcome your fears. It’s also a wonderful tale of the love and connection between a young girl and her inspirational grandmother. Elīna Braslina’s incredible illustrations are a riot of colour with lots of drama and fun on every page. 5–7
McTavish on the Move by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by David Shephard, Barrington Stoke, ISBN 9781781128732
‘McTavish listened carefully. As a rescue dog, he knew it was his sworn duty to rescue the Peachey family from danger and harm.’ We could all do with a dog like McTavish! The Peachey family have just moved to a new house. Betty is anxious about starting school as well as trying to settle into their new home. With wry humour and entertaining antics, Rosoff’s story is comforting, wise and warm. McTavish is a true star and saves the day in three other stories. David Shephard’s amusing illustrations capture this dog’s unwavering loyalty. Set in clear, dyslexia friendly text and layout, this story is sure to be a hit. 8–10
Stick Boy by Paul Coomey, Stripes Publishing, ISBN 9781788952309
Moving to a new town is never easy but could just be the solution Stick Boy is looking for to leave his problems behind. But he soon discovers that he still sticks out! This funny, but thoughtful story captures the overwhelming feelings of anxiety, fear and isolation that people, especially children, experience when they are being bullied. Paul Coomey’s exciting tale highlights the power of connection and the empowering feeling of friendship, inclusion and belonging, as well as solving a mystery. An amusing, thought-provoking and successful debut from an Irish writer and illustrator. 10+