11 September 2015

The Huge Bag Of Worries (Book Review For PKs)

I recently saw the Pixar movie Inside Out. It was a great movie exploring how kids can struggle with emotions when they are in a transition time (physically or developmentally) by manifesting major emotions, such as anger, joy, sadness - all depicted in the movie as comical characters in a girl's mind. The challenge for this girl (Riley) comes when she moves home to somewhere totally unfamiliar and isolated from the groups she previously identified with.

This got me thinking about PKs and the challenges they face dealing with this difficult emotions or situations. I was reminded of a great resource I came across when working as a Chaplain in a bushfire-affected school a few years ago which I think could be really helpful for those engaging with Pastor's Kids, and the worries they may have. It is an illustrated children’s book called “The Huge Bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside.
 

The illustrations are excellent, there is symbolism for both kids and adults, and the layout really lends itself to being read out aloud.

The book actually works in a similar way to the Inside Out movie, in that it gives a visible face to an unseen feeling, as another young girl (Jenny) starts to become aware of worries that she has about life and relationships, but does not know what to do with them. Jenny starts to picture a huge bag of these worries shadowing her in all areas of her life, with the bag becoming quite animated in its’ attempts not to let Jenny give it the slip.

In many ways this is as much a story about the way that Jenny deals with her worries, as it is about the attitudes of those who she tries to share with. There is her father, who she sees as having too many worries to be able to deal with one more. Then her mother, who can’t believe she has them because so much is right in her life. And lastly her brother, in denial of his own worries, even though his is clearly illustrated lurking under his bed in the background, so disbelieving of hers.

In the end it is the kindly next-door neighbour who observes, validates, and listens to Jenny’s worries, and slowly unpacks them to bring her some perspective.

I believe there are two great strengths to this book. Firstly, it gives kids who struggle with worries a language and a frame of reference to engage with them and share them with a safe adult. Secondly, it highlights the need for adults to listen carefully to kids, and lovingly guide them towards managing their worries; what worries they can leave with the adult and how to view the rest.


I highly recommend The Huge Bag Of Worries to clergy parents. It has given me some great insights and a way to start sometimes tricky conversations about feelings and understanding them.

The Huge Bag of Worries is very affordable on Book Depository .
- Matt