Bookbug Detective: Picture Books to Help Separation Anxiety

The Bookbug Detective is here to help you with any questions you have about books, reading, songs and rhymes for your little one. Thank you to everyone who has sent in their questions so far. The Detective has selected a question to answer below. If you'd like some book recommendations or advice, send the Bookbug Detective an email or post your question in the comments below.

I’m going back to work after a few years off and my son is going to nursery. I was wondering if you had any book recommendations that deal with separation anxiety to help him cope with the change?

Starting school or nursery can be very a very difficult time for children (and parents!). Some children can cope like a duck in water and others really struggle. And it can be so hard for the parents to see their children upset like this.

But as you suggest, where there is a difficult situation, there is almost always a book to help and this is no exception. I’ve listed some examples below of books that deal with separation anxiety in general:

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson – this absolute classic follows the story of three little owls and what happens when their mother leaves them to get them some dinner. A really lovely story that should reassure children. This book will also appear in our new Bookbug Explorer Bag for 3 year olds.
A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton – poor little owl drops off his perch and can’t find his mummy. But with some help from his friends, it’s not too long before he finds her. Gorgeous artwork from the amazing Chris Haughton.
Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler - Can butterfly help little monkey find his mum? Yes, finally, but only after a lot of trial and error as butterfly misunderstands monkey’s descriptions and leads him to all sorts of unsuitable animals.
Little Lost Cowboy by Simon Puttock and Caroline Church – a really sweet story with nice repetition.
Hug by Jez Alborough – Bobo the monkey is alone and looking for a hug. Will he find one?

And here are some picture books that deal with starting nursery in particular:

Peppa Pig: George’s First Day at Playgroup – whether you like Peppa Pig or not, most children love her! So this colourful story might be a good way in to discussing the issue.
Going to Nursery by Laurence & Catherine Anholt – Anna is off to nursery for the first time but she soon makes a friend.
Maisy Goes to Nursery by Lucy Cousins – this one’s nice because it shows how fun nursery can be. A great way to enthuse kids about the idea of going to nursery.
Lucy and Tom go to School by Shirley Hughes – sometimes the oldies are the best and this lovely story follows Lucy as she starts school and Tom as he starts nursery.


Sharing a bedtime story and cuddles with your son at the end of the day will also offer him a sense of reassurance and familiarity. You'll find plenty of bedtime story recommendations on our website.


Good luck to you both of you!