Inside: Book review and follow-up activities for My Monster and Me, a book about childhood worries. Includes links to other books and a colouring sheet.
Today I’m excited to share a wonderful new picture book about dealing with childhood worries.
The author, Nadiya Hussain, draws upon her childhood panic attacks to write this reassuring and comforting book.
Title: My Monster and Me
Author: Nadiya Hussain
Illustrator: Ella Bailey
Theme: Childhood Worries
This is my monster. And this is me. I’ve always known my monster. It’s always been there. It knows ALL about me.
The story opens with a giant smiling monster and a nameless little boy. The boy explains that his monster has always been with him. He can see it, he can hear it growl, and as time moves on the monster becomes bossier and increasingly bothersome. When he tries to tell his parents about it, the monster cleverly hides itself. The monster, of course, is a metaphor for anxiety and worry.
One day, when the monster is being especially obnoxious and follows him all the way to his Gran’s house, he breaks down in tears and explains the situation to his Gran.
Gran is a GOOD listener.
At this point the boy notices his monster getting smaller and smaller. He finally feels some relief as he realizes that he has some control over the monster.
The next day the boy surprisingly feels compassionate towards his monster, now that it’s so little and helpful looking. He treats the monster kindly and puts it gently into his pocket. The monster likes being in the pocket, and now that the boy has learned to tell his monster to behave, life is lot easier.
Why I Like This Book:
I could really relate to this story since I went through a period when I was about 9 years old where I suffered from serious anxiety, to the point where it was difficult for me to go to school or to a friend’s house. I have no doubt that many children will also be able to connect with this text.
I like the way Ms. Hussain treats a serious situation with lightness and honesty. More importantly, I love how she doesn’t have the boy scare the monster away, or call it names, or be mean to it in any way. Because whatever he does to the monster he’s doing to himself. Instead, it’s completely the opposite. The boy learns to accept his monster, be kind to it, and to exert control over it when he needs to. I love this compassionate and loving approach to the monster problem.
I should point out that the illustrations also add to the feeling of warmth and comfort. They’re simple but full of expression with lots of warm yellows and pinks.
I think this book is absolutely perfect for a parent, teacher or counsellor who is looking for a way to help a child deal with worry or anxiety.
- Talk about the book. What do you think the monster is? Why is it living with the boy? Why does it follow him everywhere and won’t leave him alone? How does the monster make the boy feel? Why does the monster get smaller while the boy talks to his Gran about it? Why does the boy put the monster in his pocket? How does the boy feel at the end of the story? How does this compare to the start of the story?
- Ask if anyone understands or can relate to the boy’s monster. Not everyone will want to share and that’s just fine.
- If you’re reading this book in school start a list on a chart called “Monster Feelings”. Name some big, hard-to-handle emotions and write them on the chart. Some feelings that might come up are anger, worry, panic, frustration, guilt, fear. Draw a little face beside each word that comes up so that you have a visual. The idea is to normalize these feelings so that children understand everyone has them to some degree.
- Discuss some ways to deal with big emotions. Some ideas are a) talk about them with an adult you trust, b) talk to yourself, e.g., “It’s okay that I’m having this big feeling right now. I’ll just breath deeply until it settles down.” c) remember that it’s normal to feel the big feelings. Everyone does.
- Another way to deal with big feelings is to draw pictures about them. Encourage the children to give their drawing a name and to talk about it. But don’t force anything — just give them the option.
- Be sure to read this article called Anxiety 101 by Anxiety Canada.
- If you’d like to teach your class how to regulate their emotions then be sure to check out The Zones of Regulation (click on the pic to see it on Amazon):
MORE BOOKS ABOUT EMOTIONS AND MINDFULNESS (these are all previous book reviews I’ve done with lots of ideas and activities):
I also made a colouring sheet of the monster. Hopefully your kids will enjoy it.
Ms. Hussain is also a winner of The Great British Baking Show. She’s written lots of cook books as well as Bake me a Story Celebration for kids.
Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!