This 38 page book addresses anxiety and self confidence with Islamic tips and tools to help kids cope and feel less alone in their struggles. The rhyming text on some pages is flawless, and elsewhere falters and distracts from the text. Similarly, the panda that personifies the “Whispering Worrier” is at times a compliment to the story, and at other times seems to muddle the seriousness being discussed (I don’t understand the ever-present watering can). The book is long and the text small, but overall the message is good and presentation sufficient. Books like this by qualified professionals are incredibly valuable and important. The use of Quran and trust in Allah swt to feel confident and at ease is something we need to share with our young ones early, often, and regularly.
Talaal comes home from school and declares that he feels sick and is not going back to school. His parents can’t seem to find anything wrong and send him to go do his homework. He passes his older sister who is praying and seems so relaxed, when she is done she comes and talks to him. He explains how he felt when the teacher asked them to share and how the fear and nerves felt like his heart was being beat on. She reassures him that she feels the same way at times and that a Whispering Worrier whispers unhelpful thoughts to tear us down.
She suggests countering the negative thoughts with helpful positive ones. She also suggests reciting Qur’an. She then has him practice some ayats. He recites the begining of Surah Ikhlas, and starts to feel better. Talaal excitedly goes to tell his parents what is going on, and the suggestions his sister has given him for coping and overcoming his stresses. They let him know that they too get nervous. His mom, goes a bit off topic and explains various wonders that Allah swt has created and they reassure Talaal that he too is beautifully made. Talaal starts practicing and finds over time, in different situations, he starts to calm his Whispering Worrier.
I like that the advice is rooted in Islamic concepts and that his sister, not an adult, is who coaches him and guides him, making it seem normal and not a punishment. I like that it isn’t an instant fix, but something to work out and be consistent with over time. The end has a note to caregivers and some tips. I think reading the book and having discussions is the first step and inshaAllah if your child or student is struggling that professional help will be sought, so that children don’t have to suffer needlessly.
I read this to a group of early elementary students to try and normalize the topic and encourage them to talk to a parent or teacher if they felt similar to Talaal. Unfortunately, the book had a hard time keeping their attention and I think, in retrospect, it might be a better selection for smaller groups or one-on-one so that discussion and feedback can safely occur.