Q&A with Matthew Syed about his two books for children
What prompted you to write You Are Awesome and Dare To Be You in the first instance?
Dare To Be You and You Are Awesome are such important books for me. I want children to believe in themselves and have the confidence to follow their own path to success, whatever that might look like for them. Irrespective of background, every child has potential but sometimes I think that they can struggle to know what is possible. I wanted to write something, grounded in science and research, and (hopefully) humour, that children (and adults) could read, enjoy and use to grow in confidence.
What has process of writing them been like?
The process of writing these books has been a joy. I have spent a lot of time reminiscing about the things that happened to me when I was younger. Some were hilarious, some were dangerous and some just plain mind boggling. Recognising what I have learnt from all of these experiences and weaving them together with the themes of resilience, confidence and overcoming self-doubt to create a roadmap for building confidence has been amazing. But what has really made me proud is the feedback that I’ve had from children and parents who have read the books. When someone tells me the books have given their child the confidence to try something new or has helped in making their child a little less anxious it makes me really happy.
Could you summarise for us what the latest book is about?
My new book is called Dare To Be You: Defy Self Doubt, Follow You Own Path and Be Confidently You. It is about coping with change and being able to see your differences as the strengths that they are. It is about building the confidence to follow the path that is right for you and nobody else. It is about banishing self-doubt while being kind to yourself and everyone else around you. Oh….and it’s a bit about my life story too.
Many readers of your business books may not be aware of your books for children. What might be useful for your adult readership to know about them?
The themes are in fact very similar though written very differently. I genuinely believe that growth mindset, cognitive diversity and the ability to see failure as learning opportunities have a huge impact on one’s ability to achieve their potential. And that it’s vital to instil this kind of outlook and attitudes in our children to give them every chance of having happy and fulfilling lives and relationships. Our world is changing at pace and, like us all, they will likely face all kinds of challenges throughout their lives. My aim with the books is to help children understand that they can overcome fear and needn’t avoid failure, and to equip them with some techniques from an early age that can help them throughout their lives.