If you’re the parent of a sensitive child, you know that not everything flies. There are some things that your child has a hard time handling that other children may more easily take in stride. Every child is different. When it comes to reading material, you want to make sure you find the right books for sensitive children so that you won’t expose them to things that might affect them negatively in a lasting way.
Why It’s Hard to Find Books for Sensitive Children
Sometimes it’s difficult to find the right books for sensitive children. This can be a challenge as highly sensitive children aren’t always as interested as other children in books that are merely entertaining. They want something meaningful.
Thankfully, once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll find that books for sensitive children aren’t that hard to find. A hypothesis I have about this is that there are a lot of writers who would probably classify themselves as highly sensitive. Some of these writers are the authors of books that I will list here. And once you’ve read a couple of their books, you will probably start to feel safe and confident that at least most of their books would be okay to read with your highly sensitive child.
Note on this list of books for sensitive children:
Just because the book is okay to read with a sensitive child doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the right book at the right time. This is where your sensitivity and being in tune as a parent is very important.
For example, pretty much any book by Kate DiCamillo is going to be a terrific book. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a beautiful story … but it does involve the death of a character. And not just any character; it is the death of a child. Overall, the book is heartfelt and touching; Kate DiCamillo deals with difficult matters in a sensitive way. But it is not necessarily one that you would want to pick up and read to your child on a day that they’re already feeling overwhelmed or struggling with dark thoughts.
You’ll find that, with these books for sensitive children, certain stories are better for certain age groups as well. While I offer a suggested reading range, keep in mind that each child is a little different—including sensitive children—as far as what they’re ready to read at what age.
Read Books Aloud with your Sensitive Child
Also, I suggest you read aloud these books with your sensitive child rather than having them read them on their own, at least for the first read. Reading aloud with a child is terrific for a number of reasons, not least of which is that it gives them a chance to discuss things if they would like to, with you as their parent or caregiver.
Give Your Sensitive Child Space with Books
At the same time, your reading hour together should be a time of joy and relaxation together—not a place where you’re going to make them repeat the facts of the book back to you. Every story time does not need to be a lesson learning time; they get enough of that in school.
This is especially the case with some of these books for sensitive children. If your young reader just wants the story to settle in their mind without talking about it, try to be in tune with their mood; don’t push for a conversation they’re not ready to have. Make sure you give them that space. Sensitive children, more than most, need time to allow data to filter through their mind, to absorb things. Something is simple as a story can give them a lot of impressions or data that they need to sort out in their mind.
Especially if you are not a highly sensitive parent, take note that highly sensitive children absorb and interpret information in a different way. They might need some extra time and space to reflect on and distill the information that has come into their mind.
Terrific Books for Sensitive Children
I plan to add to this list of books as I encounter more great books for HSP kids.
But here’s the list to start with …
Town Mouse, Country Mouse by Jan Brett
What I love about this book is the way it normalizes a character being sensitive to loud and crowded environments. The country mouse just isn’t cut out for the same level of excitement and sensory input that his town mouse counterpart enjoys. And that’s okay.
If you were a sensitive child growing up, you’re hyper aware of this fact: Our modern western culture caters far more to extroverted personalities than introverted ones. If your child attends school, he or she probably encounters this imbalance on a daily basis. Well-meaning individuals—teachers, relatives, etc.—most likely use phrases like, “You should get out of your shell more,” and “You need to be more friendly and interact with the other children.”
While socialization is important, different children (and adults!) need varying levels of socializing. So, books for sensitive children like Town Mouse, Country Mouse can help your child know that it’s okay to appreciate (and need) different environments to fit one’s personality.
Recommended Age: 4-7
Frederick by Leo Lionni
Love this book! It’s such a terrific read for children because it shows that not everything needs to be “useful.” The actions of the titular character Frederick make it clear that beauty and art are every bit as important as other things in life. If your child is highly sensitive, that means he or she is likely attuned to art and beauty, and will find stories like this one especially meaningful.
Recommended age: 3-7
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
This book for sensitive children is a difficult one to describe. It is a journey …
A journey that follows a very self-centered and proud rabbit who does not know how to love as he encounters one character after another on his path toward learning that very thing.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a death of a child in this book. Although an older reader will see it coming (it is a young girl who is very sick), some young readers may find it unsettling. This is not to say that you shouldn’t read it with your HSP child. There are other books and movies that deal with death in a harsh and unsympathetic way. This book is gentle and meaningful, and every encounter that the main character has is leading him toward a better understanding of what it means to love and be loved.
Recommended age: 6-11
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
This is a sweet story for young readers. A nice one to just sit with your child on your lap and read aloud. It’s cute and sensitive readers will enjoy the friendship of little blue and little yellow, as well as the tension that arises when the two friends get a little too close one day.
Recommended age: 3-6