First, what is introversion?
I bet you know about extroversion already. Extroverts get their energy from being around other people. Introverts get their energy from being alone.
Which is not shyness.
If you want to dive more into understanding your introverted child (or yourself), I highly recommend reading The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D. and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Introverts can be very social; they just need time to recharge their batteries away from others. Introversion is a temperament – not a behavior.
So what is shyness?
Some of these books show stories where people overcome shyness to help someone or make a new friend.
Hopefully, the stories will show that there are many different kinds of kids — and they are not alone!
Books About Shy Kids
Picture Books with Shy Kids, ages 4 – 8
Sometimes Shy by Julie Bliven, illustrated by Dang Khoa Tran
A boy notices how the world can be shy, but no one calls those things shy. Like the sun in the morning, the small smooth waves that go unnoticed in the sea, or the last pieces of cereal in a bowl of milk. Sometimes the boy is called shy. Maybe he is. But after school, he joins his family at the beach and talks and talks.
Too Shy to Say Hi by Shannon Anderson
Shelli notices dog and parrot easily making friends but not her fish who is like her. She wants to make more friends than her animals so she decides to be brave and talk to other kids at school because she really wants a new friend. At school, she encourages herself to try. Then, she smiles and talks with a new friend named Lupita — and they play together at recess. She feels proud of herself afterward and can’t wait to continue trying.
Shy Willow by Cat Min
In this sweet and inspiring story, Willow, a shy bunny who lives in a mailbox, leaves her mailbox to take a boy’s letter to the moon. She tries different approaches which fail but finally gets to the moon using a balloon…and she and the moon give the boy his letter’s wish– a big bright moon for his hardworking mom’s birthday.
Too Shy for Show and Tell by Beth Bracken, illustrated by Jennifer Bell
No one knows that Sam likes trucks, dogs, and chocolate cake because Sam is quiet. When it’s his turn for show and tell, Sam knows just what he wants to bring but he’s scared. Which makes him worry. He watches all the other kids go and gets up the courage to show a picture of his new dog named Chocolate. He doesn’t even throw up or faint! And the kids learn a little more about him.
Tea with Oliver by Mika Song
Bravo, Bucket Head! by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Shy Mousetta doesn’t like meeting new people so she goes to a shy workshop with a bucket on her head where she meets lampshade head and wastebasket head. But before long, foxes arrive in the area and the three kids crash around holding hands–which freaks out the foxes– and they all run away. Not only do the kids save the day but she learns that other kids sometimes feel shy and quiet, also.
Why Are You So Quiet? by Jaclyn Desforges, illustrated by Risa Hugo (PROBABLY INTROVERTED?)
Myra Louise is a quiet girl who loves to listen to the world around her. She learns to appreciate her quiet nature and invents a listening machine. She wishes someone else would listen, too. And one day, someone does.
Hugo by Atinuke, illustrated by Birgitta Sif
Here’s a heartwarming story of kindness about Hugo, a friendly park warden pigeon, who helps a shy girl come out of her shell. She stays inside all the time but Hugo continues to visit her and finally, she opens her window to him and they become friends. One day Hugo gets hurt by a dog, the girl rushes to his side, leaving her apartment, to save him. When she’s nursed Hugo back to health, she joins him outside and the little girl, Aimee, makes more friends.
Wolf Girl by Jo Loring-Fisher
Sophy feels most comfortable in her den, wearing her wolf costume. One day when she’s sad after the other kids at school make fun of her, she meets a real wolf and cub who help her learn to be brave like a wolf and kind to a loud bear. Fortified with new friends, Sophy returns to the real world and school where she remembers the feeling of bravery and kindness and makes human friends, too.
Twig by Aura Parker
Bug school is starting and no one notices the new quiet girl, Heidi, a stick insect, not even the teacher. You’ll feel so sad for Heidi who watches the other kids playing. Why won’t someone play with her? When Heidi is finally discovered, the teacher has a wonderful idea — all the students will knit a square for a scarf. The scarf will help everyone be able to see her. Now she always finds friends in the playground!
Violet Shrink by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Carmen Mok (INTROVERSION)
Violet prefers to be quiet and alone — which is hard for others to understand, including her dad who is always trying to get her to enjoy parties. Finally, Violet sits down with her dad and explains how her stomach hurts and her palms sweat. Together, they come up with an idea that will work for her dad to go to the parties and Violet to go but not participate in the chaos…she wears her purple headphones and brings a book. LOVE IT!!
Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter, illustrated by Birgitta Sif
Cat lovers will appreciate Miss Hazeltine’s love for cats who are afraid of everything; I know I do! Miss Hazeltine opens her house to all shy cats and gently helps them learn about birds, climbing, noises, new friends, pouncing, and brooms. The illustrations are whimsical and charming; the story is wonderful — the cats face their fears to rescue their beloved Miss Hazeltine.
Shy by Deborah Freedman
Shy is a giraffe who loves to read and especially loves books about birds. Shy hears his first songbird and bravely follows the bird to an unknown land but he doesn’t find it. When he returns home, he hears her again and says hello which starts a sweet friendship.
Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! by Alexandra Alessandri, illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda
Ava Gabriela’s shyness makes the words stick in her throat. Mama says, “What you’re ready, your voice will come out and play.” Her large extended family is welcoming and understanding that Ava Gabriel doesn’t speak much, they invite her to join them in preparing for the new year with decorations and food. At night, the family has a wonderful celebration of dancing, food, and fun.
The Invisible Boy by Patrice Barton
Tomas likes to watch birds and people but he’s shy to meet other people, thinking they won’t like him. Until he dresses up like a tiger for Halloween and hopes no one will recognize him. But, they do recognize him and they like him.
Gustavo the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago
Gustavo is a shy ghost which makes it hard to make friends. He uses his love for Day of the Dead to show the other monsters who he is which helps him make friends.
Chapter & Middle-Grade Books with Shy Kids, ages 6 – 12
Ava and Pip by Carol Weston
(ages 6 – 9)
Little Rhino My New Team by Ryan Howard and Krystle Howard
ages 6 – 9
Little Rhino joins a little league baseball team only to discover that the boy who bullies him is on his same team. His wise grandfather and daily lunch at the dinosaur table help Rhino and his shy friend gain new social skills and the confidence to deal with the bully.
Stella Diaz has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez
Loosely based on the author’s own childhood, 3rd grader Stella is very, very quiet in both Spanish and English. She feels separate, just like the word alien that describes her green card status being born in Mexico and moving to Chicago as a baby. A fish research project for school helps Stella find her voice and overcome her fears.
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
(ages 9 – 12)
My 10-year-old found this book SO RELATABLE — just like she struggles with confidence and speaking up, so does the main character, Peppi. This well-done graphic novel tackles the issues of friendships and confidence, among other things. (So glad I’m not in middle school anymore.) We highly recommend this graphic novel.
The Lost Twin by Sophie Cleverly
When shy Ivy’s outgoing sister Scarlet mysteriously dies, Ivy’s forced to not just attend Rookwood boarding school but pretend she is her twin sister. Ivy discovers clues that her sister left hidden all over the campus and learns that something very sinister is going on. I loved the originality and the suspense.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
Worser by Jennifer Ziegler
ages 8 – 12
Worser is floundering after his mom’s stroke left her unable to talk and his exuberant artsy aunt is taking care of them. He still finds solace in words and grammar but it’s not the same without his mom. Worser invites the Literary Club, run by a girl he has a crush on, to meet at the used bookstore. Slowly, he begins to share his love of words with other word-loving kids. As he develops friendly connections with the other group members, he finds that he likes being part of something and having friends. Then, jealousy leads him to a terrible decision that changes everything –but maybe the lessons learned will be what he and others need.
Swag is in the Socks by Kelly J. Baptist
ages 9. -12
12-year-old Xavier hates speaking because of his stutter, he’d much prefer to play video games and hang out in his room at home. But, he wants to join Septer League just like his (incarcerated) father, great uncle, and grandfather. He’s surprised when Great Uncle Frankie Bell’s gift of crazy socks change everything. The socks give Xavier an opportunity to be a leader in a way he never expected. That plus speech therapy and we watch as he blossoms with confidence.
The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
ages 9 – 12
This is a well-written story with an emotional poignancy about poverty and unhealthy relationships. Zoey is trying to stay hidden to survive her life but it’s not easy. She and her siblings are living with their mom’s newest boyfriend in his trailer. She’s required to care for her siblings while her mom works, avoiding making a mess or too much noise. A kind teacher at school persists with a reluctant, non-participative Zoey, encouraging her to try debate club. It’s that activity that eventually gives Zoey the courage and perspective to talk to her mom about everything — from her mom’s boyfriend’s belittling to her own friend getting threatened with a gun. That conversation changes everything for their family for the better…