What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid’s Guide to Accepting Imperfection

Claire A.B. Freeland, Ph.D. & Jacqueline B. Toner, Ph.D., Authors
Janet McDonnell, Illustrator
Magination Press, September 2015
Suitable for Ages 6-12 years
Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/2JMvoOn

When I was a student, I worried about tests—a lot. Ironic, then, that I would spend 20 plus years in school facing the very things I feared: tests, exams, and all forms of academic evaluation. Obviously, I managed (sometimes barely), but things would have been a whole lot easier if this book had existed years ago when even a pop quiz made me quake.

What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake is an excellent resource for children and pre-teens who struggle with evaluation and the possibility of failure. The eighth book in the popular What-to-Do Guides for Kids® series from Magination Press introduces an explorer theme which is pitch perfect in delivery. Adorable illustrations by Janet McDonnell enhance the adventure as children in pith helmets explore thoughts and feelings with maps, knapsacks and binoculars. Authors Freeland and Toner make the point—and they make it well—that mistakes are inevitable when exploring new ground.

The characters explain distorted thinking, explaining unhelpful thoughts (e.g. “I missed the goal. I’m a terrible athlete) and the antidote, challenge thoughts (e.g., “I missed the goal. That was a tough shot.). The theme expands to examine distortions of various kinds like black-and-white thinking, self-critical thoughts, and catastrophizing. Different kinds of mistakes are also discussed—from careless to accidental—allowing readers to expand their perspective.

The beauty of this book lies in its concrete examples, with just enough repetition to help make the ideas stick. The guide is also interactive (another plus) allowing readers to explore their understanding in ways that are encouraging versus threatening.

Knowing how to think about thoughts is helpful. But knowing that unhelpful thoughts can be changed—and knowing exactly how to change them—is transformative. I still can’t find all six insects hidden in Chapter 2, but I’m okay with that. I’ll settle for five. And that, my friends, is progress.