Everyone has nightmares sometimes, and they can be really scary! These books teach children that nightmares aren’t real, and they encourage children to remind themselves of this when they wake up from a scary dream. They help children to make some sense of nightmares and to practice re-writing a dream with a happy ending. If a child is having nightmares related to a particularly frightening incident (i.e., a trauma), they will likely need trauma-specific support (e.g., trauma-informed treatment with a therapist). If a child is having lots of nightmares, this may be due to underlying anxiety, which a child could learn to manage during the day so that their brain is better able to relax at night.
Age range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Recommended for: This vintage Berenstain Bears book explains what nightmares are to children–that they are not real and that they are often a jumbled up collection of things the child was thinking about or feeling throughout the day. This explanation could be really useful to a child who has been having nightmares. It demystifies a nightmare and although it won’t prevent a bad dream, it could help a child to calm down more quickly once they are awake and to fall back asleep more quickly.

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: 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: Best for children you suspect have lots of worries that are bringing them down (perhaps they’re also having tummy aches and nightmares) but who aren’t sharing their worries with anyone. Also great for a parent who needs a reminder that being a good listener when a child is sharing worries is invaluable (and that saying “Don’t worry!” isn’t helpful). This book leads well into an activity of a child drawing out their own worries.