Middle-grade books about anxiety are becoming more and more important, thanks to the anxious times we're living in. More people (parents, teachers, and children) struggle with clinical anxiety. While many manage their symptoms with therapy and medication, it doesn't hurt to see their stories reflected in the books they read. In the past, I made a list of middle-grade books about mental illness which included some of the books on this list. For today's list though, I'm focusing on the best middle-grade books about anxiety disorders.
Guts is based on Telegmeier's experience with anxiety as a tween. After a case of the stomach flu in their family, Raina becomes terrified of vomit and vomiting. Her anxiety manifests physically as a stomachache which further exacerbates her fear of vomiting and intensifies her anxiety. Her parents take her to see a doctor who after multiple tests assures them that Raina is "healthy as a horse." Unsure what to do next, they take her to see a therapist.
Kat Greene lives in New York City with her mom and attends an unconventional middle-school (where no one gets disciplined). Since her parents' divorce and her mom's job loss, Kat's mom has been cleaning and washing her hands a bit too often. Her hands are red and chapped, and she has to wipe down cans at the grocery store before she can buy them -- no matter how long it takes.
In Center of Gravity, Tessa has become more anxious after losing her mother to breast cancer. This middle-grade novel is set in 1985, which I guess would make it historical fiction. To soothe her anxiety, Tessa cuts pictures of missing kids out of milk cartons. For her, it is crucial that every next milk carton bear the face of a child not already in her collection. So, at lunch, she has to take time sifting through milk cartons to find a new face.
Pablo is used to moving around and feeling unmoored. His mama has been packing up and moving every few months since she and his father got separated. Now, they're in the Philippines where mama is working with an animal sanctuary Pablo is struggling to cope with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Things take a somewhat positive turn when "Chiqui," an orphaned Filipino girl with a cleft lip is thrust upon mama.