The Worry Box

Written by Suzanne Chiew
Illustrated by Sean Julian
32 pages  •  Published 2019 (Little Tiger Press)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through kindergarten.
Publisher's Summary: Murray Bear has lots of worries. What if the waterfall he’s visiting is too loud? What if he’s not very good at climbing? And what if all his friends laugh at him? With the help of his sister, Milly, Murray makes a special box in which to keep all his worries. But can the worry box really help?
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: This story teaches the worry management strategy of creating a worry box (i.e., writing down one’s worries and putting them in a box) through a sweet and reassuring story of a bear with a lot of worries who visits a waterfall with his older sister and makes a new friend. Worry boxes can help children build awareness of their worry thoughts. They can also help to contain worry time to certain designated moments (e.g., a therapy session, after school) when the child’s worries can be discussed with a trusted adult.
Would a child like it? It has a soothing bedtime story-like quality to it that a nervous child would enjoy. A child with a lot of worries might also enjoy how Murray learns the new worry-management strategy from his sister and is then able to teach it to a new friend.
Evidence-Based Practices: Cognitive Restructuring
Tone: sweet, even-tempered, a bit sentimental
Story Quality: It definitely reads like a book for young kids, which is, in fact, its target audience. There are no big surprises and everyone is friends in the end, but it introduces a good tool for coping with worries and shows that a child is not alone in having worries. It’s sweet enough and well-written enough to make a bit of psychoeducation palatable and perhaps reassuring.
Illustrations: Sweet, nature-centric illustrations featuring cute animals. There’s a great sideways double-wide page of a tall tree with baby owls.
Representation: Murray is a male bear with a bear sister (besides these labels the animals are not further gendered). They meet up with two bunny friends. The animals live in a naturey area with some anthropomorphic elements (they have backpacks, craft supplies, and stone houses).
Psychological Practices: Murray’s sister teaches him how to make a worry box to put his worries in; it helps him manage his worries about a loud waterfall and a new friend. He then teaches the strategy to his friend who has her own worries. This activity is a therapist favorite. The idea is for a child to write down their worries and put them in a box they’ve decorated. I like to have children decorate their box with things that make them feel comfortable and safe. Writing down worries rather than trying to push them away can make worries feel smaller, as anyone who enjoys journaling will attest. Some children prefer to keep their worries private, but many like to designate a certain time of day, or perhaps a therapy session, to pull out some of the worries and share them with a trusted adult. This activity helps the child to contain their worry time to specific designated times so that it doesn’t take over. As Murray’s sister says, they don’t make her worries go away, but “when my worries are in the box, they don’t stop me from having fun.”

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