Tackling separation anxiety through picture books: Owl Babies

Reading Nook Reviews – Owl Babies
Curl up and share a book with someone you love


An oldie but a goodie, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson was first published back in 1992. I vaguely remember having my own copy of the book, stuffed between copies of Enid Blyton and Super Ted. A simple, sweet board book primarily for children up to the age of three, it’s surprisingly text-heavy for a book for such young readers in mind, with quite dark illustrations (it is, after all, a book about owls in the middle of the night).

‘Three baby owls, Sarah, Percy and Bill, wake up one night to find that their mother has gone. So they sit on a branch and watch and wait for their mother to return… Clever pop-ups bring this bestselling picture book to life – the owl babies slowly close their eyes and fall asleep, their mother swoops gracefully through the forest, and Sarah, Percy and Bill bounce up and down with joy when their mother comes home.


Designed to reassure children that their mummy will always come home, in theory, it’s a great book for parents trying to get kids to sleep alone, or looking to leave them with relatives or at pre-school for the first time. It had the opposite effect for me. I remember being worried, not reassured, when the book was read to me. Would I wake in the night only to discover I was alone in the house, with no-one there, and no clue as to when Mum may return? Unlike the owl babies, Sarah, Percy and Bill, I had no older siblings to reassure me, to logically think of where my mum may have gone. Much like little Bill, who’s only words (over and over and over) were ‘I want my Mummy!’ I would worry that she may disappear whilst I slept.

Despite what may sound like a fairly negative assessment, I do recommend Owl Babies to parents of children not predisposed to anxiety or worry. Owl Babies can be taken as a reassuring tale, but it’s worth considering if your child (or the child you’re buying it for) is the kind of person who could be more worried than reassured by the overall topic at hand.

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86 thoughts on “Tackling separation anxiety through picture books: Owl Babies

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