Reading books with children is a great way to start conversations about topics they might find difficult. Whether you have a shy child or just want to help your confident child develop empathy, reading children’s books about shyness helps children to reflect on big themes like courage, friendship and kindness.
Parents often worry about shy children missing out on friendships and opportunities. The best children’s books about shyness give the clear message that there is nothing wrong with being shy. But that sometimes shyness can get in the way of enjoyable or important things. And that sometimes, we all have to do something a little difficult in order to open the door to a new and wonderful experience.
five six sympathetic children’s books about shyness that tell stories about overcoming social anxieties to achieve something special.
Buster: the Very Shy Dog (by Lisze Bechtold) is a collection of three charming stories with cute illustrations. It’s designed for young readers to read themselves so each story is short with simple language. But it’s also a good book to read out loud to younger children. It’s a light-touch book to make kids think. And, being about a puppy, it’s very indirect and non-threatening. A good general introduction to ideas about shyness and overcoming social anxieties. (3-7yrs)
Halibut Jackson does not like to be the centre of attention. He wears specially camouflaged outfits to blend into the background – so the first pleasure of this book is to try and find him hiding in each of the illustrations! This is the story of how Halibut finds his special talent and learns to be comfortable with being shy. Halibut Jackson (by David Lucas) is a really reassuring read for a socially anxious child that cleverly transforms the fear of standing out into acceptance of being unique. (age 2+)
You can’t beat the Mr Men series when it comes to talking about personality traits and emotions. Little Miss Shy is painfully shy – to the point of absolute social phobia and panic attacks! The real talent of this book is its gentle humour which encourages the reader to laugh at Little Miss Shy and sympathise with her at the same time. Little Miss Shy (by Roger Hargreaves) is a great book for helping children of all ages step outside their social fears and get a little distance on them. (all ages)
Maya’s Voice (by Wen-Wen Cheng) is a story about a girl who finds it hard to speak when she starts school. If your child suffers from selective mutism (or just finds it hard to speak in certain situations), this wonderfully gentle book is a great way to reach out to them and help them see that it is possible to find your voice when the time is right. Also good for children who have a friend who finds it hard to speak out. (ages 3-7)
Shybug (by Kevin Ann Planchet) deals specifically with the problem of overcoming shyness in order to make friends. It tells a simple story about how two girls manage to reach out to each other despite their differences and fears and become friends. There are some tips at the end for parents on helping shy children to make friends. Gentle, accessible story with pretty illustrations. (age 3+)
*New for Autumn 2019, The Orangutan Who Sang by Jay Vincent is a richly illustrated rhyming paperback all about an orangutan who gets very nervous and tongue-tied. This is a lovely story to read if you have a 4-7 year-old who is shy or who just gets very nervous when they have to speak up in class or assembly.
You’ll find lots more useful recommendations in:
- Best books to help teach children social skills
- Books for raising confident girls
- Starting School Books
- Books for talking to children about emotions
- Books to help children cope with change
- Books for helping children manage friendship problems
This is not a sponsored post, I wrote it in response to questions I am frequently asked during my parenting seminars and clinics. However, it does contain affiliate links which means if you click through from this post and make a purchase, I receive a small fee. I received a free review copy of ‘The Orangutan Who Sang’. For more info, see my Disclosure Notice.
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©Anita Cleare 2017