Isaiah & the Worry Pack by Ruth Goring is not a book written for me. I mean, sort-of by definition it’s not, since it’s a picture book for children. But I’m also not much of a worrier (when the sequel Isaiah & the Apathy Crate comes out it will undoubtedly be a different story). That said, helpful tools for dealing with worry in children are essential, and this short book is going to be a useful one.
In Isaiah & the Worry Pack, Isaiah is having trouble falling asleep as he wrestles with anxiety. His mother helps him think through his anxiety by telling a story that involves, well, a worry pack, a forest full of animals, and an encounter with Jesus where Isaiah’s worries are turned into something wonderful (without being dismissed or marginalized). Time with Jesus transforms Isaiah’s worries into blessings in his story, which enables him to get the sleep he needs in the real world.
Overall, this is a fine book and one that can start some good conversations with children who struggle with anxiety. The note at the end says that this sort of story telling is an essential spiritual discipline–and hey, maybe it is. I can’t speak to that one way or another. I can say that this is the sort of story we don’t want to push too far. Jesus will help us with our worries–His yoke, after all, is easy and his burden light. But that doesn’t always mean that they are gone or that they turn into something good. Sometimes it just means that we can endure through them because of the Gospel. Sometimes in means that we have to rely on the fact that there will come a time in the future when they’re all resolved. Sometimes it means that the things we worry about actually happen and we have to live with it. And sometimes we still can’t get to sleep. In each of these circumstances, Jesus remains faithful and our sins remain paid for and we remain one of God’s children.
That of course gets a bit heavy for a children’s book, but we also want to be sure to be honest especially when helping children with anxiety. So again, Isaiah & and the Worry Pack is a good place to begin having these conversations, but you’ll need to go beyond what this book has to offer.