Deeply Rooted in Bibliotherapy for Anxiety


By: Karen Salisbury, CSW

I love children’s books! If a young client comes in to my office, they know that at some time during the session, we will be sharing a book. Many of them run immediately to the bookcase to make their own selection. I’ve even been known to occasionally read a children’s book to a teen or an adult.

Sometimes, books are just the right catalyst for a great conversation. They provide a non-threatening way to learn and be introspective. I feel so strongly about the modality of “bibliotherapy” that I’ve decided to share some of my favorites with you over a few months. Let’s start with helps for anxiety:

For perfectionism and anxiety tendencies, my all time favorite is “The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes,” by Mark Pett with illustrations by Gary Rubinstein. (This can be found on YouTube). This book is about a girl named Beatrice Bottomwell who never made mistakes. She was a novelty in her community due to her perfect performances. But this came with some drawbacks. No one really ever knew her name; they just knew her by reputation. Another disadvantage was that Beatrice was afraid to try new things, as she was worried she would make a mistake. One day Beatrice made an “almost mistake.” From that moment on, she couldn’t stop worrying about making a mistake. Eventually, Beatrice did make a mistake. Read it for yourself and see what happened, how she handled it, and what changed in her life as a result.

Another favorite is “Beautiful Oops,” by Barney Saltzberg. (Also found on YouTube). This book talks about ways to turn “mistakes” into something beautiful and is good training for us all to learn how to re-frame unfortunate situations or circumstances into something more meaningful. The words “Beautiful Oops” really stick in the mind of a child. I can’t begin to tell you how many times, even weeks after reading this book, children make a mistake in the art room or play room and exclaim, “That was a beautiful oops.” Read this book!

A workbook for children I recommend is, “What To Do When You Worry Too Much,” by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D., illustrated by Bonnie Matthews. This workbook is designed for children ages 6-12. It’s fun, interactive pages will take your child through cognitive behavioral techniques aimed at reducing anxiety. It is packed with easy-to-understand concepts and coping skills. Other books by this author include: “What To Do When You Dread Your Bed,” “What To Do When Mistakes Make You Quake,” and “What To Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck,” to name a few.
Finally, Lisa M. Schab, LCSW put together a workbook for teens called, “The Anxiety Workbook for Teens.” Among other things, it helps the reader to recognize what anxiety might feel like to them personally, what their triggers and patterns are, common thinking errors, and teaches coping skills for a reduction of symptoms.

There you have it, my personal favorites for books dealing with anxiety. There are many books on the topic. Utilize these or find the ones that appeal to you. Happy reading!