Many of the children I work with in my practice struggle with anxiety, so when I was asked to review Little Worm—A Story About Worry I jumped at the chance. I often incorporate books in my practice, either by reading them in-session or recommending them for families to use at home. Reading a story about a character they relate to can encourage children to open up and learn new skills far better than simply asking questions or providing instruction.
Little Worm is a story about a young worm whose carefully laid plans are thwarted by rain. When he realizes things are not going as planned, he gets so worried he feels sick. He uses some simple coping strategies to manage his anxiety and makes a new plan, which helps him feel better.
The first thing I did when I received this book was to read it to my almost four-year-old son. He liked it so much he asked me to read it a second time that night, asked for it again the following night, and wanted to use it as his book for the school book exchange so his friends could read it.
Next, I brought the book to work, where I read it with some of my young patients. All of the children were drawn in by the bright, colorful pictures and rhyming prose, and seemed to enjoy the story, and some of them opened up more than usual about their anxious symptoms and concerns after reading this book. The children who opened up the most were ones who could relate to Little Worm more, specifically children who experience physical symptoms in response to anxiety and children who have difficulty dealing with changes of plan.
The publishers suggest that Little Worm is appropriate for children ages 3 to 7. Depending on your child’s maturity level, I would recommend it more for the younger side of this age range. For younger children who complain of feeling sick when they’re worried or those who have trouble handling it when things don’t go the way they expect, this book can be a good conversation starter to discuss their experiences and to introduce some basic coping skills.