Fear of the Dark

Many children are at least a little afraid of the dark. These books encourage children to see the dark as peaceful and friendly, and they can motivate a child to practice spending time in the dark through exposures and fun darkness games.
Age range: 1st grade through 5th grade.
Recommended for: This workbook is a must-read for any child and their caregiver who are looking for relief from phobia(s). It’s an interactive book that teaches children gold-standard cognitive-behavioral strategies to reduce their fears, and it’s applicable to any and all phobias, including fears related to animals (e.g., dogs, spiders, bees, sharks), nature (e.g., heights, thunderstorms), injuries (e.g., blood, shots), small spaces (e.g., airplanes, elevators), and/or anything else (e.g., clowns, balloons, vomiting).
Age range: Ideal for 1st through 5th grade, but much of the workbook is applicable to kids a bit younger with some extra parental support.
Recommended for: This interactive workbook is a good fit for any child experiencing sleep challenges. It’s appropriate for kids who resist going to sleep, who are struggling to sleep on their own, who have difficulty falling asleep, and those who wake up frequently during the night. It teaches pre-bed relaxation skills, helps a child develop a good bedtime routine, and addresses fear of the dark, nightmares, and scary thoughts that often arise at bedtime. This workbook uses a metaphor of a child being a sleep magician, and it teaches kids fun slight-of-hand magic tricks in each chapter.
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: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book is a really fun read for a child who has a fear of monsters under the bed or in the closet, but who knows (at least on some level) that monsters aren’t real. It helps a child to shift their view on monsters from dangerous to silly and innocuous. It’s also just a very adorable book.

The Dark

Written by Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book helps a child to shift their relationship with the dark from foe to friend. It is best for a slightly older child who will tolerate or even enjoy the book’s creepiness (e.g., kids who like ghost stories) and who will understand the ending–it’s a bit subtle. It’s a great story.

Orion and the Dark

Written and illustrated by Emma Yarlett
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: Therapists can use this book as an introduction to exposure therapy to address a fear of the dark. Caregivers and children can read this book together and talk about how Dark can be a friend. I might follow up a read of this book with a fun, dark-themed activity like making shadow puppets.
Evidence-Based Practices: Exposure
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Evidence-Based Practices: Mindfulness, Exposure