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19 Picture Books That Will Combat Separation Anxiety in Preschoolers

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Most people will tell you that separation anxiety in preschoolers isn’t common, but even parents with the most independent children may come up against this behavior from time to time.

Many kids begin to experience general separation anxiety around 4 months of age but as they grow, it shifts to be more focused on specific things, such as bedtime or going to school for the first time.

This uncertainty and resistance to new things is completely normal for preschoolers, but it can he tricky to deal with as a parent.

Our experience with my daughter was different than most in that she never really dealt with separation anxiety until she experienced some major life changes at age 3.

Her entire demeanor changed within a few months and we were left scrambling to figure out new and better ways to help her manage those well-deserved big emotions.

The best way we found to help her build foundational coping skills and navigate the turmoil we were all feeling was to read picture books together!

Read on for our favorite books that will help calm separation anxiety in your preschooler.

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I Love You with All My Heart by Jane Chapman

Polo the polar bear learns the meaning of his mother’s love and that it’s possible to love someone with every part of your being. A very sweet story that will be enjoyed by kiddos and parents alike.

What we especially liked about this book is how each of Polo’s friends is loved by their own mother in a different way. A gentle reminder that a mother’s love stretches near and far, together or apart.

Oh, My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt

This is a fantastic book for both mom and kids as it addresses what separation anxiety can feel like on both ends. There is a heart hidden on every page, making this book interactive for littles.

I wish I had known about this book when I went back to work after my daughter was born. It would have been a source of comfort for sure!

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

This well-loved character has helped children all over the world manage life experiences and emotions. Llama Llama isn’t so sure about starting school and being away from Mama Llama for the first time. An excellent read for preschoolers who may be nervous about their first days of school!

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

Such a beautiful story of connection and love! Miss R. asked me several times while reading this if there was an invisible string in real life connecting her to specific people she loves. Developmentally this is a fantastic book for combating separation anxiety in preschoolers because it introduces them to an abstract concept in a way that they can understand.

When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Spinelli

A gentle and calming rhyme about how much mamas look forward to seeing their kids at the end of the day. Another great option for preschoolers because the books is all about process and routine.

Helping kids understand what to expect in new situations and that things will still be the same when they get home is important for relieving some fears around separation.

That’s Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Sometimes the more simple a book, the greater it’s impact. This is one of those books. Reading through this book with a parent is a great way to help your preschooler identify things in their everyday life that remind them of your love. Separation anxiety will disappear after reading this simple yet impactful book!

Meet Me at the Moon by Gianna Marino

Sometimes separation lasts longer than just a day, which can cause even more anxiety for preschoolers. They may not know how to tell time, but they do have a better sense of time passing than younger children and may become fearful that the longer mom or dad is gone maybe they aren’t coming back after all. This book illustrates that eventually separations will end and that they be with you again.

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

A wonderful story to build confidence for the worrier in your life. Wemberly worries about well, everything. When she starts school, she is particularly nervous about all the things that can go wrong. She makes a new friend who helps her to see that it’s ok to worry but we don’t need to let it take away from the fun we can have.

I was definitely a worrier as a kid and I see similar traits in my daughter. We have read this book several times and it’s on my list to buy so we can have it on hand any time she’s having a particularly difficult day.

When I Miss You by Cornelia Maude Spelman

Missing people is inevitable, and this book outlines for children some reasons why they may miss people and some practical ways to lift spirits when apart. Specific coping skills are introduced, including ways a child can help soothe themselves when they are missing someone. The simple writing and cute illustrations make this book very preschool-friendly!

Wherever You’ll Be by Ariella Prince Guttman

Some moms may return to work once their child reaches preschool. This book is perfect as you prepare for that transition. I also like that it sets up the normalcy of experiencing things apart from each other and then coming back together and sharing what happened at the end of the day. This is a fantastic practice for families to feel connected and like they haven’t missed out while being away.

Hand to Hold by JJ Heller

JJ Heller has some fantastic music and a lot of it tugs at my mama heart, so I was thrilled to see that her lullaby “Hand to Hold” had been turned into a picture book! A sweet and gentle reminder of the bond that exists between mothers and their children.
Pro tip – if you want to make yourself sob uncontrollably, read the book while listening to the song.

The Circles All Around Us by Brad and Kristi Montague

Part of separation anxiety for preschoolers is the overwhelm that comes from their growing world. It might be a new sibling, attending school for the first time, or moving. All of these experiences broaden their world and can cause disequilibrium. This book is a great way to open the conversation about changing worlds and that their circles will continue to widen as they grow. Demonstrating that this feeling is normal but manageable is a great step towards overcoming those fears.

Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave by Jessica Hische

This book made the separation anxiety list because it gives children language to build their confidence. Ages 3 – 5 is when children begin to notice how other people react to them.. This can be particularly challenging for kids experiencing separation anxiety. They may feel embarrassment about being sad and scared which only makes the situation worse.

My daughter is particularly sensitive and is starting to feel embarrassment in situations when she is scared. I was so glad I found this book as it has shown her that even if today didn’t go as planned, she can try being brave again tomorrow!

The Worry Box by Suzanne Chiew

While Murray is excited to meet new friends, he also worries a lot about what might go wrong. His sister teaches him how to make his very own Worry Box so he has a place to put his fears. Murray is able to place his fears in the box and focus on the fun instead of worry and even helps a friend manage their worries too.

The Worry Box is one of our all-time favorites and has been featured on the blog in our book lists. We even have a tutorial so you can make your very own Worry Box! This is a great activity to do with your preschooler before they start school because of it’s practical approach to managing anxiety.

The Moon Sees You and Me by Caleb Burroughs

Part of a series, we absolutely LOVE this book. Its simple and sweet illustrations make it applicable to children of any age and remind kids that even when apart love still connects us. I remember as a kid being fascinated by the fact that the same moon could be seen everywhere, and it was a great comfort to me when I was away from family that they were able to look up and see the same thing I was.

A Jar Full of Kisses by Heather Bennett

Another great book about separation with some practical tips for dealing with the abstract concept of love. Being able to read a story like this to your preschooler and then work with them on creating their own jar full of kisses extends the concepts into real life, cementing their importance. I am all about books that have real-life applications and this one is a winner!

Chester the Brave by Audrey Penn

For some kids, the scariest thing they can do is be apart from their parents. It takes true bravery to step outside their comfort zone and do something new. From the best-selling author of “The Kissing Hand” comes another wonderful story for kids about true bravery and how doing hard things makes us stronger.

Chester’s mom recites a mantra that helps Chester feel brave when he is uncertain. I LOVE this because mantras are something we use to help my daughter with emotional regulation and they have also helped me manage anxiety through the years. Sweet, practical, and just an all-around great story, I can’t recommend this book enough for preschoolers who are struggling with separation anxiety!

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman

A sweet letter to children about how far a parent’s love can go. I love the intimate yet whimsical style of Nancy Tillman’s books. The pages are so unique and uplifting. Another example of teaching children that love is an abstract concept but can be found and felt in their everyday world.

No Matter What by Debi Gliori

We stumbled on this book during a random library visit and have checked it out several times since. The silly illustrations provide humor for a difficult concept to explain. If anything, we want out kids to know that our love will never leave them, no matter what, making this a fabulous story for preschoolers who are feeling anxious about separation.


Separation anxiety in preschool often stems from some kind of life event that makes children feel insecure about being away from their loved ones. For little ones, routine and predictability are everything for helping them stay confident and regulated.

These stories share the common theme of teaching that love extends beyond the physical, parents come back, and introduce practical ways to help children cope with their uncomfortable feelings of separation,

It’s important when your child is feeling separation anxiety to show them love, support, and remain firm on boundaries so they will know what to expect.

Reading books like these helped my daughter immensely when she was struggling with really bad separation anxiety and we still have some of them in our regular rotation!

Have you read any of these books before? If so, did you find them helpful for working through separation anxiety with your preschool kiddo? Share with us in the comments or visit Book Mama Life on Facebook!

Happy reading,

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1 thought on “19 Picture Books That Will Combat Separation Anxiety in Preschoolers”

  1. Pingback: How Reading Together Helped My Preschooler Overcome Separation Anxiety - Book Mama Life

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