9 Thoughtful Books for Shy Kids
“Why don’t you speak up more?” “You need to put yourself out there if you want to make more friends.” “It just seems like you’re not interested in people.” These are the kinds of things shy kids hear all the time growing up — I know I certainly did. I was told to “just go and talk to people,” as if this wasn’t a hugely anxiety-inducing, awkward experience which often resulted in me having short, stilted conversations with people that had absolutely no interest in chatting to me. Then there was the horror of oral presentations in school and my fierce determination to avoid anything that involved public speaking or getting up in front of the class. I was a shy, quiet child, and spent a lot of my childhood feeling that this was a problem that needed to be overcome, instead of a natural part of my personality. I wish I had books for shy kids then.
While we still live in an extrovert’s world, introverts seem to be a little more accepted, with society slowly realising that some people are quiet, and that’s okay. There are many great books for shy kids out there, which have quiet protagonists who aren’t portrayed as people who need to turn themselves into loud, spotlight-seeking people in order to succeed in life.
Here are some of the best books for shy kids of all ages.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Patrice Barton
This sweet book for young readers is a great way to show shy and quiet children that there is nothing wrong with their personality, while still acknowledging the difficulties shy kids face at school. It follows Brian, who feels invisible next to his louder, more outgoing classmates. They often forget he’s there. When a new boy Justin arrives at school, Brian finds a friend who accepts him as he is.
Maya’s Voice by Wen-Wen Cheng
Shyness and selective mutism are not necessarily connected, but can often overlap. Maya’s Voice is a cute picture book about a young girl who starts experiencing selective mutism when she goes to school — but with the help of her family and friends, she finds ways to use her voice. Maya’s Voice is a great book for all children, whether they’re experiencing selective mutism or dealing with shyness that makes them feel uncomfortable when speaking.
Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! by Alexandra Alessandri, illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda
This award-winning book explores how shyness can affect children even around family. Ava Gabriela is spending the new year in Colombia with her family, but the new surroundings and the hustle and bustle of her relatives make her feel shy and out-of-place. The story follows Ava Gabriela as she finds ways to enjoy the celebrations without changing her quiet personality.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
This middle grade book follows Amina, a shy girl who is dealing with regular childhood worries, including moving up to a new school, her changing relationship with her best friend who has started hanging out with the popular kids. Her world is rocked further after the local mosque that her family attends is vandalised. While Amina doesn’t like being the centre of attention, she learns how to use her voice to speak up for what is right.
Simon B. Rhymin’ by Dwayne Reed
Simon dreams of being a famous rapper one day, but while he has plenty of ideas for rhymes, he is too shy to perform in real life. However, he’s given a school assignment to do an oral presentation on an issue that affects the local community, and with some help from his friends, Simon finds the courage to rap his assignment for his class.
Annie’s Life in Lists by Kristin Mahoney
In this middle grade story, 5th grader Annie manages her life by making lists — and she has a lot of things to manage, including a move to a new place, starting a new school, and staying in touch with her best friend from back home. Annie is shy and methodical, and learns to deal with her new situation without changing the things that make her herself.
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
Aspiring stand-up comic Yumi is shy at school, but channels her embarrassing experiences into future comedy fodder. After she is mistakenly given a chance to attend comedy camp, Yumi believes she’s on the verge of making her dreams come true, but if the camp finds out that she’s not actually supposed to be attending, she may lose everything.
Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
This teen story will appeal to shy kids who have their own beloved fandoms and online communities. Eliza is the shy girl at school, but she has a secret identity as the creator of a hugely popular webcomic, Monstrous Sea. When she meets Wallace, a boy who loves writing Monstrous Sea fan fiction, Eliza starts becoming more comfortable in the offline world — until she is revealed as Monstrous Sea’s creator.
Quiet Power: Growing Up as an Introvert in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
An accompanying text to Cain’s nonfiction book for adults, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Quiet Power is a helpful read for teenagers and young people who are feeling the pressure to be more extroverted, even if this is against their (perfectly normal!) personalities. Quiet Power reassures young people that they don’t need to change who they are in order to find their place in the world.
If there’s a child in your life whose shyness is giving them anxiety, try 25 Thoughtful Anxiety Books for Kids. Socially anxious teens can find solace in the titles on our list of YA Books About Social Anxiety.