Recommended Age Range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Publisher's Summary: In Anh’s Anger, five-year-old Anh becomes enraged when his grandfather asks him to stop playing and come to the dinner table. The grandfather helps Anh fully experience all stages of anger by suggesting that he go to his room and, “sit with his anger.” …He comes to know his anger in the first person as his anger comes to life in full color and personality…Anh’s Anger teaches children that it is okay to feel angry, and shows the technique, often used by child therapists, of externalizing the emotion…The author’s intention is to help parents understand that there is an alternative to “time out’s” as a means of helping children to express themselves when feeling angry, while providing children with a mechanism for internal dialogue during a “time out” or when “sitting” with their anger.
Dr. Annie's Takeaways
Recommended for: This is a really lovely story about a boy and his grandfather that presents anger as a child’s friend who needs to be taken care of (danced with, relaxed with), rather than an enemy who needs to be controlled or conquered. For therapists, this book’s approach aligns well with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) .
Would a child like it? It’s a sweet, very non-judgmental take on anger management, which many children would connect with and appreciate.
Tone: Reassuring, warm
Story Quality: This story has a lot of heart and kindness, and the relationship between Anh and his grandfather is refreshingly nurturing.
Illustrations: Interesting, intricate illustrations that look like a mix of paint and collage. Anh’s anger is a red, fuzzy creature with horns and a long tongue. Like anger, it’s a bit scary-looking at first, but with Anh’s care, it gets smaller and friendlier-looking.
Representation: Anh is an Asian (perhaps Vietnamese based on his name) boy who lives with his Asian grandfather. His grandfather makes a comment about growing up without blocks, but rather with “frogs, a lily pond, and a sun that wouldn’t set.”
Psychological Practices: This story presents the idea that anger is a feeling that a child can spend time with and take care of, rather than fight or control (as is often the language used with anger management). This approach fits well with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) –it is a story about accepting one’s anger and learning to breathe with it rather than against it. The story begins with Anh’s grandfather calling him to dinner before he’s finished building his tower, followed by his tower accidentally getting knocked over. Anh yells, “I hate you” at his grandfather, and his grandfather calmly tells him to go to his room and spend some time with his anger. When he gets to his room, there’s a red fuzzy creature there who introduces itself as anger. Anger encourages Anh to dance with it around his room and drum on the ground, and then once they are tired, they sit quietly and take deep breaths. Anger explains that it’s Anh’s friend and that they can enjoy spending time together. As Anh continues to breathe, the anger disappears. Anh then apologizes to his grandfather, and his grandfather cuddles him, thanks him for his apology, and praises him for “[taking] good care” of his anger.
Watch a Read-Aloud: YouTube (not affiliated with Dr. Annie's Bookshelf)