This refers to the practice of picturing something in as much detail as possible, often including other sensory details in addition to visuals (e.g., sounds, smells). It is used as an aspect of exposure therapy (see above), sports/performance psychology, and relaxation. When we visualize something, our brains are activated in ways that are surprisingly similar to when we actually experience something.

Tiger Vs. Nightmare

Written and illustrated by Emily Tetri
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: Written in comic book style, this book teaches children that they can stand up to a nightmare and dispel it by reminding themselves that the nightmare isn’t real. It’s best for a kid who enjoys some action, as the scenes depicting Tiger and her friend Monster battling the nightmare are a bit scary.
Age range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Recommended for: This comforting bedtime story helps a child to visualize a connection between themselves and their caregiver as they drift off to sleep. It’s a book filled with vibrant imagery about magical, colorful dreams that ends with a little cub being brave and conquering his fear of the dark. Any child with a caregiver who knits will particularly enjoy this book.
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade
Recommended for: This book is best for children with performance anxiety. Pilar is a ballet dancer, but children with anxiety about other types of performances (e.g., musical performances, theater, class presentations, sports) would also likely benefit from reading this story. It normalizes performance anxiety, which is an important intervention (i.e., there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling anxious about a performance), and it teaches strategies of breathing, visualization, and talking with a loved one.
Age range: Preschool through Kindergarten.
Recommended for: Young children with separation anxiety will likely benefit from reading this book with a caregiver or therapist. It introduces the idea that practicing separations will help the anxiety, not make it worse, and that caregivers aren’t being mean if they don’t accommodate their child’s separation anxiety. It easily leads into a conversation about how a child can cope with separations and how they and their caregivers can start practicing small separations to build up to bigger ones (i.e., graded exposures).
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book is an excellent read before, during, or after a vacation to help a child prepare for/ cope with/ or process a trip not going exactly as planned. Mr. Fish is initially frustrated by all of the disappointments, but then he realizes that the hiccups came with new opportunities and adventure (e.g., a detour takes him to a beautiful view). This book could be used more generally as a way to talk about things not going as planned and how a child can cope with this and be more open to disappointments and detours leading to new opportunities.
Age range: Preschool through Kindergarten.
Recommended for: This book is a lovely read for caregivers and their children who have recently developed some separation anxiety or who are anxious about an anticipated separation (e.g., a first day of school). It won’t be enough to fully address significant separation anxiety, but it provides a sweet visualization to help children cope with missing a loved one.

Hector’s Favorite Place

Written and illustrated by Jo Rooks
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Evidence-Based Practices: Exposure, Visualization
Age range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Recommended for: This book might prevent or reduce children’s fear of the doctor and/or shots by walking children through the typical components of a well-child doctor’s appointment so they feel prepared and by teaching them a visualization strategy to reduce anxiety (and pain) during a vaccination. It’s fairly cute and also quite informative. It’s great for caregivers to read with children prior to a check-up and could be an entry for therapists into a conversation about a child’s fear of shots.