Mar 152024
It’s Okay NOT to be Okay – a book for little and big humans!
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pc: Pooja Natesh

Book Title: It’s Okay NOT to be Okay
Author: Sarah Allen
Illustrator:  Sonal Gupta
Publisher: Wonder House Books
Type: Board Book
Pages: 32 pages
Age Group: 2.5-5 years

At kbc, we are big on big emotions! We ran a contest powered by Wonder House Books and our members participated in huge numbers! Everyone loved the book but the biggest insight was that it was not just for our toddlers. The book served as a perfect reminder for parents, to take it easy and be kinder to themselves.

We curated some of the reviews and reactions as shared in our kbc facebook group for you!

Prachi, who says she was “blown away” by the book has shared a detailed review with inside pages in the kbc facebook group here. Excerpts from her review:

“A book that is appropriate for everyone from a toddler to an adult has to be a must book for every book shelf! Yes, I said toddlers too! The book depicts several emotions (mainly the ‘not okay’ ones) and they are being emoted by animals. Now, that’s where the toddler’s interest comes in.

The book not only gives scenarios of the situations where you might feel ‘not okay’. It also talks about what you can do in such situations in the gentlest ways.

Both my children (6 yo and 3 yo) could relate to the book and narrated incidents where they had one of those feelings and we discussed what we could do in such situations. All based on the book.

Not just for children, the book resonates with adults as well by reiterating again and again that these emotions (the negative ones?) are valid too and not only should we acknowledge those for ourselves but let our children experience them too. After all, it’s only natural to feel all types of emotions.

My older one is not so good with sharing her negative emotions. She tries to hide the feelings that hurt her or upset her. Those hidden feelings then turn into anger later so, this book is helping me tell her that all those feelings are absolutely valid and she has the right to feel them.

Ohh, and my younger one has become pretty vocal about being cross (with his arms crossed like the rhino) ever since we read this book. 😀

Sarah Allen has done an amazing job with this book by making it so relatable. And I would say again, this book is a must for every bookshelf.”

Quoting Pooja Natesh (who has shared some inside pages here in the group):

As part of growing up, children experience all sorts of emotions – fear, disappointment, sadness, anxiety, anger, joy, hope and so on. Learning to manage feelings and emotions is the most critical step to maintaining good mental health. This book is a great way for parents to introduce and help their child learn how to manage emotions.

I particularly liked the storyline sequence. It covers different feelings (being happy, sad, angry, feeling lost) first and then moves on to emotions (emotions are our body reactions based on certain events) such as anger, frustration (on being stuck, inability to do some activity); feeling hurt, upset, mad; being let down; feeling scared, etc. I appreciated how the author has not only compiled all possibilities of emotions but also explained how to manage those, effectively. The suggestions provided in the book to deal with such emotions are practical and comprehensive. The illustrations are spectacular – Ananya (my 6 yo daughter) loved the different expressions portrayed on the animals.

Mental health crisis is among the most pressing, yet under-expressed issues impacting both adults and children alike. Good mental health helps children develop socially, emotionally, mentally and physically.

pc: pooja natesh

In Asha’s words:

“This is a brilliant book for toddlers & pre-schoolers to understand what big emotions are all about and that it’s totally fine not to feel happy or 100% all the time. Simple situations and the feelings triggered by them that little kids can relate to have been shared using animal characters. Rhyming text, and the magic line, It’s okay NOT to be okay gets repeated every now and then to reinforce the fact that we don’t always have to be in a delightful mood.”

It’s okay to feel cross or MAD
When someone does something hurtful or bad.

An excerpt from Kimeera’s review:

“This book has had glowing reviews in kbc, and I agree with every word. It not only tells that it’s ok to feel all kinds of feelings, but also says what you can do to handle them well. It is powerful, not just in what it imparts, but also in how – the pictures show animals feeling sad, angry, frustrated, scared,… And even more heart touching – animals dealing with their feelings. You can’t help but melt!

As with every children’s book we get, I read this one first by myself. I liked it instantly for its content and illustrations, but it is long (32 pages), is deep, and has a lot to say, so I wondered whether A would sit through the whole book at one go. I even planned to break it into two parts if he gave any indication of restlessness, because I didn’t want him to lose interest! But author Sarah Allen seems to know what she’s doing, because not only did A not lose interest (even with all the explanations and parallels-drawing I kept doing because I couldn’t resist 🙈), but he kept going back to the book multiple times.

There are a couple of books whose titles we keep repeating like mantras and this is one of those. So if you’re looking for a feelings book, this is a good one.”

Achu and her son Avi, loved this book as well. Quoting Achu:

“Feelings for a child and a grown up are equally complex to identify and regulate. There are many books that help children navigate through their emotions but I felt so happy to come across a book which is not only apt for Avi but for me too. We both are learning It’s okay not be okay and after reading this book that has become our mantra now.

This book talks about naming each emotion or feeling, whether these emotions that we experience every day are good or bad and ways to help us cope with them. Avi could easily resonate with the feelings mentioned in this book like the Buffalo who feels frustrated for not being able to do something – Avi too had felt that way when he could not complete his 100 piece puzzle for the first time. Or when he first joined swimming classes – like the fish, he too felt scared.

The illustrations of his favourite animals were eye-catching. My favourite lines from the book:

“To have someone near you,
Not saying a word,
Just being there for you,
Letting you be heard”

Abha says, “Every day is not the same. When you are down, don’t be out. A book that has some wonderful illustrations to remind you and your childoos it’s okay. Little S was busy spotting her favourite animals as we read through the book. I am sure we will keep coming back to it to remind each other that it’s okay not to be okay.

ETA: Little S wants us to read this book at least 4-5 times before going off to sleep including the book summary at the back 🙈 Her favourite page is with three ants that says when angry STOMP IT AWAY.

Every time I read it, I know this is a must have for every parent as they will need to remind their childoo that not all days are the same.”

Quoting Richa: “My first thought was that this book is apt children and adults alike as we grown ups sometimes think that we have it all together and it’s not okay to cry or get angry. It’s a lovely book with apt illustrations that will make it easy for children to identify the emotions correctly and be able to express them too. A must have for all young children and parents!”

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