Book Review, Non-fiction Books

When I am Anxious: Moses and Other Stories by Debbie Duncan

Emotional wellbeing is absolutely essential. Even when life is calm, we need to make sure our children are growing up healthy – both physically and mentally. Understanding emotions helps them to make sense of the world, cope with changes and build resilience. Right now, in April 2020, we are living in an unprecedented time. Even as adults, there are new fears and worries about things that are beyond our control. Children are experiencing the unknown – no school, no activities, no friends, all sorts of changes they don’t understand. Worries and anxiety are completely normal but difficult to handle.

When I am Anxious by Debbie Duncan has been published at the perfect time. It gives parents/carers and their children a vehicle for exploring feelings of anxiety and strategies for dealing with them from a Christian perspective. As a part of the God Cares series, this chapter book aimed at age 8+ provides opportunities for adults and children to read, think, discuss, share and pray about what is troubling them.

Focussing on the story of Moses, children see that he wasn’t always the hero he is remembered as. He was worried, he thought he wasn’t good enough and, at times, he didn’t want to do the things God asked of him. This well-known story is broken down into sections developing key details about Moses’ journey through life. With facts and explanations to catch the interest of this older group of readers, this new angle helps children to understand that worries are normal and when they get to be too much, there are things we can do.  Links to other stories in the Bible (Gideon, Jesus’ birth, the Sermon on the Mount) help children to develop their understanding and make further connections.

Each chapter is of manageable length with an opportunity to draw, write and reflect on the main points discussed. It allows children to be honest about how they feel and makes simple suggestions about what they can do to feel better, always pointing children back to God and to adults they trust. After the story, there is an exploration of anxiety itself – what might cause it, how it makes us feel and real strategies for dealing with it. The “Talking Points” section provides questions for children to think through on their own or with an adult focussing on the emotions of the people they meet in the story of Moses. This helps children to understand that they are not alone in their feelings and that God has seen it all before. He understands and can help. The suggested prayer and space to write their own allows children to reach out.

The final chapter of the book is for adults. Written by a mental health professional, it provides practical advice for parents, carers and teachers around anxiety in children. This is a thorough and thoughtful addition to the book. My favourite piece of advice is to talk with your child about someone who is brave and the advice they would give about feeling worried. Then imagine that person is on the other end of a walkie talkie. When you’re worried, listen to what they have to say. I talked about this with my son and he came up with a wonderful piece of advice from Yoda. I’m sure we’ll be contacting him by walkie talkie soon! The book ends with current and relevant on-line resources for families who need additional help. The recurring message for children and adults is that we are never alone and we can cope with our worries together.

Other books in this series:

Readers:

God Cares When I am Strong: Friends in the Fire

God Cares When I am Afraid: Jesus Calms the Storm

Chapter Books:

God Cares When I Feel Down: Jonah and Other Stories

Thank you to NetGalley and Lion Hudson Limited for this beautiful book! It will be published in April 2020.

Click on the cover below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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