Roaring Mad Riley
An Anger Management Story for Kids
Written by Allison Szczecinski
Illustrated by Dean Gray
50 pages • Published 2021 (Rockridge Press)
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Publisher's Summary: Join Riley, Parker, and Mr. Rex on this adorably illustrated journey exploring anger management for kids. They’ll find out how to keep calm by breathing deep, counting to 10, shaking it out, and more. After you finish the story there are even a bunch of awesome activities you’ll be able to do with your parents―and the next time you feel angry!
Dr. Annie's Takeaways
Recommended for: Young children who lose their temper when something goes wrong will connect with this book and benefit from the anger-management strategies it teaches. The story normalizes and destigmatizes the feeling of anger, and it teaches several child-friendly skills to safely manage anger. Dinosaur lovers will particularly like this story.
Would a child like it? Many young children will like this book. It portrays a situation that many kids have been in (a classmate accidentally knocks over Riley’s block tower), and it provides hope that they can manage the feelings that come up in situations like this.
Evidence-Based Practices: Emotional Literacy, Diaphragmatic Breathing, Relaxation
Tone: Sweet, reassuring
Story Quality: This story does a nice job of incorporating a lot of useful information into a relatable, decently well-written story. Riley’s classmate Parker accidentally knocks over her block tower, and she gets “roaring mad” and throws a block. Her teacher validates her feelings and teaches her how to manage her anger in a safe way. There’s nothing dark or tongue-in-cheek, or edgy about this book; it’s kind and sweet and very approachable for a young child.
Illustrations: Cute illustrations of dinosaurs in bright, punchy colors and some nice texture (I think the illustrations are digital, but they have a collaged look to them).
Representation: All of the characters are dinosaurs. Kids who know dinosaurs better than I do will be able to identify the different species. Riley is a female dinosaur; Parker and their teacher are male dinosaurs. The story takes place in a classroom with some natural flair (e.g., there’s a volcano visible out the window and plants growing out of the floor.
Psychological Practices: This story teaches children to identify the feeling of anger in their bodies (“She felt her face get very, very hot. She huffed and puffed. She was breathing so fast!”), and it helps children to learn strategies to stay safe when they are feeling this way: taking deep breaths and counting to 10, shaking out their hands and arms, imagining something pleasurable, and problem solving. It also models apologies–Parker apologizes for knocking down Riley’s tower, and she apologizes for throwing a block. After the story, the book shares instructions for several additional anger management strategies to practice with a child, including squeezing and relaxing fists, a deep breathing visualization (smell the soup, cool the soup), and a drawing activity to build awareness of anger in the body.
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