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Nadiya Hussain Teaches Kids About Anxiety in Book 'My Monster and Me'

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Known for her win on “The Great British Bake Off” and now her cooking shows, Nadiya Hussain has gifted the children’s picture book scene with “My Monster and Me” — the book you wish you’d had sooner to explain anxiety and worry to kids.

“My Monster and Me” follows a little boy and his sometimes larger-than-life yellow monster as a stand-in for anxiety and worry. Hussain, an accomplished author in addition to her cooking and baking expertise, got the idea for the story after realizing she was never able to find a book that explained anxiety to children.

“I’ve always looked on the shelves to help me to get the kids to understand different aspects of real life,” Hussain told The Mighty. “Never, ever have I seen a book about anxiety or feeling worried in children who [live] with anxiety or explaining what worrying means.”

Hussain has shared she lives with panic disorder and anxiety. She leaned on how she explained her anxiety to her young kids to write “My Monster and Me.” She landed on the yellow monster (brought to life by illustrator Ella Bailey), who at the end of the day is more cute than scary.

“It’s hard to explain worrying and anxiety to children, but you explain it in a tangible way through a monster, kids understand it better,” Hussain said.

It was also important for her to be realistic about how kids might experience their worry monster — and to know it’s just a regular part of life.

“I wanted to be real honest about my own journey and my own experience with my monster because I’ve always sought to get rid of the monster,” Hussain said, adding:

I came to an understanding with myself that rather than trying to fight to erase it maybe there are moments in my life where it is bigger … and other times, it’s so small that I can put it into my pocket. … To be able to explain it that way makes kids understand that you can be anxious and it’s completely acceptable to be worried. 

“My Monster and Me” debuted in the U.K. in 2019 and will be released in the United States on March 2. You can preorder a copy of the book here.

Header images via Penguin Young Readers and Instagram

Originally published: February 26, 2021
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