The Best Books for Sensitive Children

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.

books for sensitive children - child's hands lifted toward rain falling outside

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.

books for sensitive children - a child looking sad with parent kneeling in front and communicating with her

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


Highly Sensitive Children and Sibling Relationships

It is virtually impossible to determine the full effect of sibling relationships on children. You will find much research and data on parent-child relationships, but far less research has been done on sibling relationships and outcomes on children. One study on sibling relations states, “In comparison to the wealth of studies on parent-child relationships, relatively little attention has been devoted to the role of siblings and their impact on one another’s development.”

I believe this difference is, at least partially, due to the fact that the siblings are also children themselves. And children are in the ongoing process of growing, changing, and developing. 

HSP Me and My (Non-HSP) Brother

Growing up, I had several older siblings, but the one right above me in age was the one who likely had the greatest effect on me.

After all, we shared a room and pretty much everything else, even clothing (and often attractions to the cutest schoolgirl).

The thing is, I thought all my older brother’s ideas were the greatest and by the same token I did not have any good ideas of my own … or at least that’s how I felt as a child.

It came to the point that my brother was so irritated at the way I would mimic and copy the things he wanted to do and wanted to be, and even the friendships or relationships he hoped to develop, that he began asking me to clarify my opinion on a situation before he would divulge his opinion.

In short, he was tired of me copying him.

I thought his requirement that I state my opinion before he would divulge his opinion was unnecessary and unfair.

I have more clarity now on the issue. Besides the knowledge I have about …

  • Copying another person being the sincerest form of flattery
  • The fact that we’re all copying someone
  • Very few people are true geniuses that do not mimic someone else whether in art or in writing or in rhetoric

…  the truth was that as a highly sensitive child, I was so deeply empathetic and sensitive to my brother’s feelings and moods and perspectives that I adopted them as my own without realizing it.

Importance of Awareness for Parents of HSCs

This is a very important thing for parents of a highly sensitive child (HSC) to be aware of.

Especially if the parent was not themselves highly sensitive, they might not realize what a strong effect their non-HSP children might be having on their HSP children.

This is not to say that the effect of a non-HSP child on an HSP child is negative.

Hardly. There is much I learned from my sibling relationship with my older brother and I am grateful to him for that, even though much of that learning was rife with tension because of the fact that he did not want me copying him.

I simply urge parents of both non-HSP and HSP children to have awareness.

For instance, one of your children might seem far more decisive than the other, who might seem to have a difficult time making decisions. This is natural.

With your increased awareness about the tendencies of your HSP child, however, you might encourage that child to make independent decisions in a safe environment.

Although they might not realize it, their very thoughts and feelings are often being influenced by the non-HSP child’s attitudes and speech and even their nonverbal cues.

I have both a highly sensitive and a non-highly-sensitive child. Because of my background and upbringing, I have been aware of the need to help my HSP child develop their own interests and perspectives in a safe environment and to explicitly let them know it’s okay for them to have opinions that are different from others.

HSP Children Need Support in Decisions

Sometimes it has been difficult to try to encourage my HSP child to make a decision on something, especially if they know that their decision is different or their perspective is different from that of the other individual.

Sometimes they will refuse to make a choice or state that they want one thing when in reality they want something else … but either consciously or subconsciously they are afraid of going against their sibling’s opinion.

Because the non-HSP child is less sensitive, they are not even attuned to this dynamic.

Again, awareness is important!

It is not that either child is good or bad or what they are doing is right or wrong.

They simply process information differently and thus make decisions differently.

The reason I urge this sensitivity and approach of awareness is that as a child I often felt very conflicted about my own feelings and opinions.

I feel, looking back, that if someone were to have come alongside me and encouraged me that it was okay to make up my mind and that what I thought and felt was valuable, rather than feeling accused and unappreciated for my approach, I might have found it easier to step out in life sooner.

I believe I would have taken a more healthy approach to decisions that I made … rather than (for many years) submitting to the desires of someone else in a variety of unhealthy relationships.

In short, these formative years are foundational in a child learning to grow into a healthy adult with healthy boundaries and positive relationship dynamics.


Some of the most core foundational experiences a child has are those with their siblings.

As such, it is vital that you, as a parent, are aware of these various factors, such as the sensitivity of a child and their natural processing.

It will make a huge difference for both your HSP and non-HSP child and their sibling relationship if you are aware of these things and help guide and support them in these areas.


Photo Credits

Main Photo: Little Girl with Hand on Chin — Image by © LWA-Dann Tardif/zefa/Corbis

Second Photo: Two Girls Under Water — Image by © Zena Holloway/zefa/Corbis