God, I Feel Scared: Bringing Big Emotions to a Bigger God – Michelle Nietert, Tama Fortner, and Nomar Perez

God, I Feel Scared: Bringing Big Emotions to a Bigger God by Michelle Nietert, Nomar Perez, Tama Fortner
Also by this author: Christmas Is Coming!, God Made You to Be You
Series: God, I Feel #2
Published by Zonderkidz on October 3, 2023
Genres: Children's
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Kids have big feelings, but none of their feelings are too big for God. In this picture book from licensed counselor Michelle Nietert and Tama Fortner, young readers will explore what it means to feel scared and discover how to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

Scared is a feeling that can be hard to face, but if we listen to it, we can learn things about ourselves. In God, I Feel Scared, children will discover that it’s okay to be scared and that God is with us in all things, including fear. With simple, accessible text, scared becomes an emotion that kids don’t need to avoid and instead something they can use to better understand themselves and grow closer to God. The bright, emotive art by Nomar Perez will draw kids in, and a note in the back provides tips and techniques parents and caregivers can use to help young children process their feelings in a beneficial way.

God, I Feel Scared teaches kids ages 4 to 8 how to:

Identify the feeling of fear and recognize things that can make them feel scared
See signs of fear in others
Develop techniques to manage fear
Embrace fear and new experiences without letting it overwhelm them
Talk to God about their feelings

God, I Feel Scared is perfect for:

Helping young kids develop positive ways to manage and name their feelings
Children dealing with changing emotions, new experiences, or anxiety
Family read-aloud time
Supporting good communication and mental health habits at an early age

Check out the other picture book in the God, I Feel series—God, I Feel Sad.

Even though fear and anxiety are common issues for children to struggle with, many children’s books about fear feel somewhat dismissive, making it sound like you can fix all of your problems through a mindset change. This book is refreshingly different, because it provides hope without downplaying children’s experiences.

Throughout God, I Feel Scared, counselor Michelle Nietert and writer Tama Fortner explain the concept of fear in a matter-of-fact and caring way, explaining to children what fear might feel like, how they might experience it in their bodies, and what they might feel and say when they are feeling scared. The book emphasizes that even though fear can be an unpleasant emotion, it is also a gift from God, because fear is a warning signal that can help keep us safe.

The illustrations from Nomar Perez are bright and colorful, showing children with diverse skin tones who are dealing with fear in different settings and in different ways. Some illustrations also include close-ups of children’s faces, helping kids recognize various ways that someone might look when they feel fearful.

Towards the end of the book, Nietert introduces coping skills that children can use when they feel fearful. She encourages kids to talk to an adult and talk to God, and she suggests thought patterns and activities that kids might find helpful when they need to put a problem into perspective or distract themselves for a while. She also notes that in some cases, it is best to do the thing that you are afraid of.

I appreciate this, but I have a grammar stickler critique here, because after the author tells kids what it means to be brave, she says, “With every fear you face, your brave gets bigger and stronger.” Why is that phrasing necessary? If the author had used the word “bravery,” this sentence would flow more smoothly, and it could also enhance children’s vocabulary and lay the groundwork for their understanding of English grammar. This wouldn’t bother me if it was in dialogue, reflecting how a character thinks and speaks, but this is the author’s voice in an informational book. Why not use the correct word form?

At the end of the book, there is a one-page note for parents that shares guidance about how  to help kids deal with their fears. The suggestions are practical and helpful, and include the caveat that if a child’s fear persist and none of the coping skills are making a significant difference, then you should consider reaching out for professional help.

God, I Feel Scared: Bringing Big Emotions to a Bigger God is a great book for Christian parents, teachers, and counselors to use with kids. This book validates children’s experiences of fear through a Christian lens, shares helpful information and coping tools, and is appropriate for a wide range of circumstances, whether a child is just dealing with ordinary childhood fears, has an anxiety disorder, or is facing frightening life circumstances. I appreciate this book’s gentleness, wisdom, and versatility, and would recommend it.