“Isolation Blues” Bibliotherapy & Book Lists (for kids of all ages)

“Stories are comfort-food. Stories are inside jokes. . . They bond us together even when life is hard. When we pull a child onto our lap and break open the pages of a book, we’re taking them by the hand and walking them into a quiet garden in the center of a noisy, polluted city. We are enveloped by the respite, for just a few moments. We are grateful for one another’s company in the garden. And we rise out of the heat of a hard day and seek something better for each other.” The Read-Aloud Family, Sarah Mackenzie


blues16Huge Harold, Bill Peet

On a normal day, in a normal season, parenting is hard. Even in good times, our children experience the regular challenges and struggles of childhood (and adulthood for that matter); feelings of frustration, overwhelm, inadequacy, insecurity, jealousy, anxiety, and maybe occasional fear. Keeping up with our children’s physical and emotional needs is an incredibly demanding and exhausting job even under normal circumstances. But now, the giants we regularly confront with our kids may look even bigger, scarier, or at least. . . more hairy. Almost all of us, either for ourselves or through our children, are experiencing heightened uncertainty, loneliness, anxiety, fear, and may even be struggling with depression. The “Isolation Blues” are proving to be an additional pandemic to the globe. You may be struggling to care for yourself, let alone meet the increased emotional support that your children or other family members need. Perhaps you are simply exhausted, creatively-drained, or just confused about how to help your family cope with the “Isolation Blues.” For all of the above, I offer to you the simple and profound powers of BIBLIOTHERAPY.

“It is on days like these when the power of reading aloud really shines. It requires so very little of me other than sitting down and reading words on a page. The book does the work for me.” The Read-Aloud Family, Sarah Mackenzie


blues13Where the Wild Thing Are, Maurice Sendak

Rather than randomly selecting a book to read to your child, bibliotherapy involves a somewhat more intentional approach. Before you prescribe a particular book to your child, start by taking a moment to contemplate his or her “symptoms” and the current emotional climate for your child (and perhaps your family as a whole). How is your child or your family experiencing the “Isolation Blues”? What is he or she missing out on the most right now? What is it about this strange season that is most adversely affecting  your child? Is she missing her friends and feeling lonely? Is he hopelessly bored and missing his after-school sports? Is she suffering from cabin fever and desperately needing to experience the outdoors? Is he terrified of this pandemic and anxious about the future? Give your child through books—through story, through fantasy, through virtual experience— what you can’t currently give in reality. That is what bibliotherapy is all about.

Below are “book prescriptions” for different manifestations of the “Isolation Blues”. I’ve also included a few sample titles/mini book lists by age for each “prescription”, just to help you get started.

For LONELINESS: prescribe books of FRIENDSHIP

biblio8House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne

  • Under 3
    • Bear Snores On, Karma Wilson
    • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen
  • Ages 3-6 (Picture Books + *Read-Aloud Chapter Books*)
    • Big Dog, Little Dog, P.D. Eastmann
    • Duck on a Bike, David Shannon
    • *Little Bear’s Visit*, Else Homelund Minarik
    • *Winnie-the-Pooh* and *The House at Pooh Corner*, A.A. Milne
  • Ages 7-10 (Picture Books + *Chapter Books & Read-Alouds*)
    • Library Lion, Michelle Knudsen
    • Carla’s Sandwich, Debbie Herman
    • *The Boxcar Children*, Gertrude Chandler Warner
    • *Mary Poppins*, P.L. Travers
    • *Beverly Cleary Books*
    • *Matilda*, Roald Dahl
    • *Tom Sawyer*, Mark Twain
  • Ages 11 and up (Chapter Books)
    • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
    • Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
    • Cheaper by the Dozen, Frank B. Gilbreth Junior

For CABIN-FEVER: prescribe books about NATURE, TRAVEL, & ADVENTURE

peace4The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White

  • Under 3
    • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
    • I am a Bunny, Ole Risom
    • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen
  • Ages 3-6 (Picture Books + *Read-Aloud Chapter Books*)
    • Eric Carle Books
    • Blueberries for Sal, Robert Mccloskey (bears & berries, Maine)
    • Make Way for Ducklings, Robert Mccloskey (ducks, Boston, Massachusetts)
    • *The Mouse and the Motorcycle* (mountain towns, California)
    • *Stuart Little, E.B. White* (mouse, New York City)
  • Ages 7-10 (Picture Books + *Chapter Books & Read-Alouds*)
    • Dianna Hutts Aston Books (An Egg is Quiet, A Butterfly is Patient, A Beetle is Shy, etc.)
    • One Morning in Maine & Time of Wonder by Robert Mccloskey (islands & beach, Maine)
    • Hattie and the Wild Waves, Barbara Cooney (Brooklyn, NY)
    • Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney (oceans, world travel, Maine)
    • Bird, Butterfly, Eel, & A Good Day’s Fishing, James Prosek
    • Everglades, Jean Craighead George (Everglades National Park, Florida)
    • James Herriot’s Animal Stories (farms, animals, England)
    • Brian Floca Books (Locomotive, Moonshot, Lightship)
    • Bugopedia & Dinopedia, National Geographic Kids
    • *The Trumpet of the Swan*, E.B. White (Canada, Montana, Boston MA)
    • *The Incredible Journey*, Sheila Burnford (mountains, California)
    • *Heidi*, Johanna Spyri (Germany)
    • *The Jungle Book*, Rudyard Kipling (jungle, India)
  • Ages 11 and up (Chapter Books)
    • The Adventures of TinTin, Georges Remi (Belgium)
    • Holling Clancy Holling books
    • By the Great Horn Spoon, Sid Fleischmann
    • My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George (mountains, New York)
    • Call of the Wild, Jack London (Yukon Canada & Alaska)
    • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin (China)
    • A Single Shard, Linda Sue Park (Korea)


biblio6The Boxcar Children, Gertrude Chandler Warner

  • Under 3
    • Bim, Bim, Bop! Linda Sue Park
    • We Help Mommy & We Help Daddy, Eloise Wilkin/Little Golden Books
    • Pancakes, Pancakes, Eric Carle
  • Ages 3-6 (Picture Books + *Read-Aloud Chapter Books*)
    • Oxcart Man, Donald Hall (farm, Virginia)
    • My First Little House books, Laura Ingalls Wilder, adapted to picture books for littles (practical-life skills for littles)
    • *Little House in the Big Woods*, Laura Ingalls Wilder (woods, practical-life skills, Wisconsin)
  • Ages 7-10 (Picture Books + *Chapter Books*)
    • How a House is Built, & Tool Book, Gail Gibbons
    • From Seed to Plant, & Farming, Gail Gibbons
    • *Caddie Woodlawn*, Carol Ryrie Brink (prairie, practical-life skills, adventure, Kansas)
    • *Little House on the Prairie*, Laura Ingalls Wilder (prairie farming, practical-life skills, adventure, Kansas)
    • *On the Banks of Plum Creek*, Laura Ingalls Wilder (prairie farming, practical-life skills, Missouri)
  • Ages 11 and up (Chapter Books)
    • Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder (farm, upstate New York)
    • Call of the Wild, Jack London
    • My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George

For ANXIETY and FEAR: prescribe books about HEROES and BRAVERY

blues20Chester the Worldly Pig, Bill Peet

“Our modern kids don’t often have opportunities to be particularly brave, much less perform heroic acts as children. But a child who has been there with Rudi as he struggles to the top of the Citadel in Banner in the Sky; has defied odds to prove up her late uncle’s claim all on her own with Hattie Big Sky; has romped through the Ozarks with Billy, Old Dan, and Little Ann in Where the Red Fern Grows—that child has lived vicariously through the pages of a book. A child who has heard these stories will have been given practice that will prepare her in a way ordinary childhood could not possibly offer. . . Fiction and nonfiction stories provide children of all ages an opportunity to experience what it feels like to be overwhelmed, struggle, fight, overcome, and emerge a hero.” –The Read-Aloud Family, Sarah Mackenzie

  • Under 3
    • Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes
  • Ages 3-6 (Picture Books + *Read-Aloud Chapter Books*)
    • Fairytales (Jerry Pinkney’s and Paul Galdone’s are excellent choices)
    • The Little Red Caboose, Golden Book
    • The Little Engine that Could, Watty Piper
    • Bill Peet Books
    • *My Father’s Dragon*, Ruth Stiles Gannet
  • Ages 7-10 (Picture Books + *Chapter Books & Read-Alouds*)
    • more Fairytales (especially Hans Christian Anderson & Brothers Grimm)
    • Bill Peet Books
    • Burt Dow Deep Water Man, Robert Mccloskey
    • *How to Train Your Dragon*, Cressida Cowell
    • *Tom Sawyer*, Mark Twain
    • *The Chronicles of Narnia*, C.S. Lewis
  • Ages 11 and up (Chapter Books)
    • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Holes, Louis Sachar
    • The Hobbit, Tolkien

For truly BLUE DAYS: prescribe books that ignite LAUGHTER

biblio7Big Dog, Little Dog, P.D. Eastmann

  • Under 3
    • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Eileen Cristelow
    • Sandra Boynton books
    • Harry the Dirty Dog, Gene Zion
    • Cookie’s Week, Tomie De’paola
  • Ages 3-6 (Picture Books)
    • The Monster at the End of the this Book, Jon Stone
    • Dr. Seuss books
    • Big Dog, Little Dog, P.D. Eastmann
    • Curious George books, H.A. Rey
    • Duck on a Bike, & Too Many Toys, David Shannon
    • The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash, Trinka Hakes Noble
    • Strega Nona, Tomie De’paola
  • Ages 7-10 (Picture Books + *Chapter Books & Read-Alouds*)
    • Bill Peet books
    • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst
    • Amelia Bedelia, Peggy Parish
    • *Beezus & Ramona*, Beverly Cleary
    • *Gooseberry Park*, Cynthia Rylant
    • *The Best Christmas Pageant Ever* and others by Barbara Robinson
    • ALSO: see my comic books section in my previous post; DAY 1: Book It!
  • Ages 11 and up (Chapter Books)
    • Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
    • Cheaper by the Dozen, Frank B. Gilbreth Junior

For HOPELESSNESS: prescribe any book with a HAPPY ENDING

*All of the above titles, with the special addition of: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leafblues7The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf


“By the time our children leave our homes, we don’t want them to wonder whether their lives matter. We want them to know that they do. If we tell them enough stories, they will have encountered hard questions and practiced living through so many trials, hardships, and unexpected situations that, God willing, they will have what they need to become the heroes of their own stories.”  The Read-Aloud Family, Sarah Mackenzie

biblioCharlotte’s Web, E.B. White

The powerful quote above may ring true. . . at least under normal circumstances. The current climate, however, is perhaps providing us with a heavy enough dose of trials, hardships, and unexpected situations. Therefore, in my opinion, and especially if your child is struggling with the “Isolation Blues” or suffering from “Pandemic Panic”, now is NOT the time to say goodbye to Charlotte, see the red fern grow, or explore the bridge to Terabithia.


  • are mostly dark
  • have an apocalyptical setting
  • are too frightening or provide too-close-to-home content (such as severe illness/pandemic)
  • involve death
  • have sad endings


“There is simply no substitute for story. When it comes to imparting truth to our kids, nagging lectures from an adult simply can’t compare with a story whose time has come. A story meets a child where he is. It sparks an authentic desire within him to do better, try harder, and love more. It allows each of our kids a vicarious experience, giving them the precious gift of practice. Stories reach us where nothing else can and quicken the heartbeat of the hero within us.” The Read-Aloud Family, Sarah Mackenzie

Thank you for following our “Sheltering in PEACE” journey. For more posts about supporting your kids through the “Isolation Blues”, click here: Sheltering in PEACE; caring for kids with the “Isolation Blues” Archive

biblio1The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White

Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

7 Replies to ““Isolation Blues” Bibliotherapy & Book Lists (for kids of all ages)”

  1. Book Prescriptions for an ailing child! Love it, we need an adult list too! I think for older kids and adults, Charlottes Web should stay on the list if for no other reason than the reader learns (for good or for ill) that words have power and can turn people’s heads and make them re-think everything!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: