Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Publisher's Summary: Little Bear is a worrier. He worries about everything! But with Mama Bear’s help, he soon learns his worries are not so big after all. Through this engaging and beautifully illustrated story, children will learn that everyday worries and fears can be overcome. It just takes a willingness to share with a helpful listener, and an understanding that making mistakes is how we learn.
Dr. Annie's Takeaways
Recommended for: Best for children you suspect have lots of worries that are bringing them down (perhaps they’re also having tummy aches and nightmares) but who aren’t sharing their worries with anyone. Also great for a parent who needs a reminder that being a good listener when a child is sharing worries is invaluable (and that saying “Don’t worry!” isn’t helpful). This book leads well into an activity of a child drawing out their own worries.
Would a child like it? A child who feels similar to Little Bear at the beginning of the book (i.e., sad and scared and weighed down by worries) will connect with Little Bear and perhaps feel reassured by the promise that sharing worries will help them to shrink. It’s a loving book about a worrier; there isn’t a whisper of criticism or making fun of Little Bear.
Evidence-Based Practices: Emotional Processing
Tone: Somber, loving, reassuring
Story Quality: This story is simple and accessible to young children, but for its simplicity, it manages to be both emotionally resonant and therapeutically useful. It’s dark at the beginning, as a somber reflection of how impacted Little Bear is by all of his worries. By the end of the story, Little Bear’s worries have shrunk almost to nothing, which is both reassuring and perhaps a bit unrealistic.
Illustrations: Beautiful drawings that bring out a lot of emotion in the story. Little Bear looks so sad in the first half of the book. I just want to give him a hug!
Representation: Little Bear is a male bear, and he has a mama bear and papa bear. A grandmother, grandfather, and aunt make appearances. He has a male bunny teacher and classmates and teammates who are different animals. The animals are dressed in human clothing and live in a human world (e.g., he goes to school, plays on a soccer team, sleeps in a bed).
Psychological Practices: This book helps worriers to describe how big their worries are (using outstretched arms), and it encourages sharing of worries through talking with a trusted adult, drawing, and writing. It shows that even if worries come true (e.g., making a mistake at school), it probably won’t be as bad as predicted (in this story, the teacher says, “Good job, you’re nearly there”). It includes a reminder to caregivers “telling LIttle Bear not to worry didn’t make any difference at all” and that being a good listener is the most important thing.
Watch a Read-Aloud: YouTube (not affiliated with Dr. Annie's Bookshelf)