The Huge Bag of Worries

Written by Matt

I was reminded recently of a great resource I came across when working as a chaplain in
a bushfire-affected school a few years ago. This easy-to-read book could be helpful for
those engaging with younger clergy kids (PKs) and the worries that they may have during their ministry journey.

The Huge Bag of Worries is an illustrated children’s book written by Virginia Ironside. The pictures are excellent, there's symbolism for both kids and adults, and the layout really
lends itself to being read out aloud.

The book is similar to the Inside Out movie (read more) in that it gives a visible face to
an unseen feeling, as a young girl, Jenny, starts to become aware of worries that she has
about life and relationships, but doesn't know what to do with them. Jenny starts to picture
a huge bag of these worries shadowing her, with the Bag becoming quite animated in its’ attempts not to let Jenny give it the slip. We follow Jenny as she tries to find ways to deal
with her worries - and how other people try to help her when she shares her feelings with them.

There's her Dad, who she sees as having too many worries to be able to deal with hers as well, her Mum, who can’t believe she has worries because so much is right in her life, and
her brother (who's in denial of his own worries even though they're clearly illustrated as
hiding under his bed!) who is simply disbelieving that Jennys’ worries exist. In the end, it's
the kindly next-door neighbour who observes, validates, and listens to Jenny’s worries, and helps her unpack them and bring some perspective to the Bag.

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 worries and share them with an understanding adult. Secondly, it highlights the need for adults to listen carefully to kids,
and lovingly guide them towards managing their worries, including what worries they can leave with an adult and how to view the rest.

The Huge Bag of Worries reminded me of the great privilege of sitting down and listening to what matters to kids, and I've found it to be a great resource as I minister to younger kids. I'd highly recommend this book for clergy kids aged 4-8 years of age.

To purchase a copy of this book, click here.