Vaccines are an important part of protecting ourselves and the community around us from contagious infections. But since vaccines are given with a needle, kids often wonder, “What’s in that syringe?” “Will the shot hurt?” “How does it protect me?” Here come books to the rescue! Whether your child is getting their first shot or their tenth, reading books about vaccines can help them emotionally, cognitively, and physically. Here are 10 great children’s books about vaccines that you can read as a family.
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Prepare your child for the next vaccine
Set aside time to read, talk, and brainstorm together. Kid-friendly books give us words to support our children’s questions. They may feel comforted and inspired to learn about how characters in books share similar experiences.
Children’s Books About Vaccines and Getting Shots
These picture books are a great starting point for introducing vaccines and some of the diseases they prevent.
Vaccines: Learn about the Science of Immunity and How Vaccines Keep Us Healthy!
- Authors / Illustrators: Cara Florance PhD, Jon Florance MD
Don’t be fooled by the cute “Baby Medical School” label! This board book uses real scientific terms about vaccines and the immune system. While it’s sturdy enough to read to babies, it’s also a great human body book for toddlers and big kids! Cartoon illustrations lighten the mood and simplify the complex topic of immunology for young learners.
The Secret Life of Viruses: Incredible Science Facts about Germs, Vaccines, and What You Can Do to Stay Healthy
- Author / Illustrator: Mariona Tolosa Sisteré
In this vibrant picture book, kids learn that viruses are everywhere. Through cartoon illustrations and conversational sentences, the book explains what viruses are, how they spread, how vaccines work, why pandemics happen (such as COVID-19), and more.
Itchy, Itchy, Chicken Pox!
- Author: Grace MacCarone
- Illustrator: Betsy Lewin
Published in 1992, just a few years before the chicken pox vaccine became available, this book takes a lighthearted approach to uncomfortable chicken pox symptoms. Kids can learn what the disease was like before it became rare thanks to vaccines. The rhythmic sentences are engaging and also simple enough for children to practice reading if they’re ready.
Picture Books For Kids Who Are Afraid of Shots
If your child is worried about getting vaccines, these stories can help with identifying and processing emotions. The characters in the stories could inspire your child to overcome their fear.
Sofia and the Shot
- Author: Sarah Wilson PNP
- Illustrator: QBN Studios
In this fictional tale, Sofia is a 5-year-old girl who has a dream about running away from the doctor’s office, only to find herself on an adventure with her pet cat, Mr. Whiskers. Mr. Whiskers takes her on a journey to teach her about the history and purpose of vaccines and is very reassuring. When Sofia wakes up, she understand the importance of getting vaccinated, and she feels ready to get the shot!
Brave Henry Gets Shots
- Author: Lindsey Lewis
- Illustrator: Carol Echols
Written by a mother of a child with a chronic medical illness, this simple yet effective book is relatable to the way children think. Although the story is geared for children needing frequent injections, such as for diabetes, hormones, or chemotherapy, it can also be helpful for children who are fearful of annual vaccines.
When a Shot Meant a Lot: A Story for Kids About the COVID-19 Vaccine
- Author: B.B. Knolls PhD
- Illustrator: Ray Anne Shea
Through playful rhyme, this picture book reflects on life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thoughtful questions cover topics like missing loved ones to common childhood worries about getting shots, which can prompt further discussion at home.
Children’s Books About Doctors and Vaccines in History
Why were vaccines invented? These history-inspired picture books give a peek at the life of Dr. Jonas Salk and other important public health health scientists.
The Polio Pioneer: Dr. Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine
- Author: Linda Elovitz Marshal
- Illustrator: Lisa Anchin
Paired with beautiful, realistic illustrations, this picture book takes us back in time to World War II when Dr. Salk was devastated to see people unable to walk. He became very passionate about wanting to help prevent other people from polio complications. Thanks to his polio vaccine invention and widespread immunization, the disease has been eradicated from most parts of the world.
Thank you, Dr. Salk! The Scientist Who Beat Polio and Healed the World
- Author: Dean Robbins
- Illustrator: Mike Dutton
Here’s another story about Dr. Jonas Salk and his motivation to work hard and figure out how to prevent the devastating polio infection. Paired with cartoonish illustrations, the book celebrates the hard-working hero plus the community that rallies behind him.
Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor
- Author: Kate Messner
- Illustrator: Alexandra Bye
This picture book explores the life of Dr. Anthony Fauci, starting from his childhood. When he was a young boy, he helped his father deliver prescriptions on his bicycle. His family encouraged him to ask questions, have an open mind, and work hard. Eventually, Dr. Fauci went to medical school and worked for several presidents through major public health challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. The book concludes with information on how vaccines work plus tips from Dr. Fauci.
A Shot in the Arm! Big Ideas that Changed the World
- Author / Illustrator: Don Brown
This graphic novel about vaccines is geared for older children in elementary school and middle school. With lively comic-style images and dialogue, kids can learn about the history of vaccinations against smallpox, measles, polio, rabies, cholera, influenza, and COVID-19. Leaders such as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Louis Pasteur, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, and Edward Jenner are also featured.