Learning to Overcome the Shame Game


By Kristin Maher
Illustrated by Robert Dunn


Release Date August 22, 2019

In The Awfulizer: Learning to Overcome the Shame Game, author Kristin Maher gives shame a name and face, showing just how real and big it can be for children; how it keeps them feeling isolated and alone, and makes them question their self-worth.

About the Book

“I feel like there’s a monster in my head. And all he does is say awful things to me. He tells me all the things I am doing wrong and how I am wrong, and it makes me sad and scared.”

Shame is a powerful emotion for children, and when they get sucked into the Shame Game and start believing lies about themselves—that they don’t just MAKE mistakes, but they ARE a mistake—their world can become a dark place.

James’ life changes the day he meets The Awfulizer, a strange monster with a giant nose and breath that smells like pickles. The Awfulizer follows James everywhere he goes and reminds him of all the things he has done wrong.

When James finally tells his parents all about The Awfulizer, they help him understand that talking about his feelings gives him a super power. It turns him into The Awesomizer! And James realizes that even though The Awfulizer might be big and persistent, up against the Awesomizer, he will always lose.

Click on images below for samples of the book


National Center for Youth Issues

Bulk Orders

Please call us toll-free at 866-318-6294.
For 30-49 copies, receive 10% off.
For 50 or more copies, receive 15% off.


Want to dive deeper?

Check out the The Awfulizer Resource Bundle that allows you to take the explore the lessons taught in the picture book further. The downloadable Resource Bundle includes:

  • Posters inspired by the book
  • Encouragement Stickers Template
  • The Awfulizer Worksheet
  • What Does Your Awfulizer Look Like? Coloring Prompt
  • You Can Always Stand Up to Shame Coloring Prompt
  • Coloring Pages from the book
  • The Shame Game

Praise for The Awfulizer

The Awfulizer is a wonderful story to help children understand shame. Mistakes are just a part of growing up, but they don’t define us. And they certainly shouldn’t make us feel bad or wrong. As a school counselor, I work with many students who fall victim to The Awfulizer, and this is the perfect story to help them realize their inner awesomeness and the power to tackle the shame monster. I highly recommend this book to all parents, caregivers, teachers, and counselors who work with children.

Carol Miller, MS School Counselor
Social Media and Blogger @themiddleschoolcounselor
2014 NY State School Counselor of the Year

As a mom and teacher, I always try to send the message to my children and students that each day is a fresh start, especially on days that do not seem to go their way! This book embodies the powerful message of letting mistakes go and allowing each day to be a fresh start. I want my children and students to know that we all make mistakes and mistakes do not define who we are, or our worth. This book is the perfect way to spark discussions and drive home these important messages for our children.

Jeanine Schneider, Teacher
Social Media and Blogger @thinkgrowgiggle

The Awfulizer tells the story of that negative voice inside our heads which reminds us of our mistakes and shortcomings. As a teacher, I believe this book has an important message that children (and adults) need to hear! Not only is the book a great starting point for a meaningful discussion, but it also includes helpful strategies for parents and teachers.

Jenn Larson, Teacher
Social Media and Blogger @theteachernextdoor
2013-2014 Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women

About the Author

KRISTIN MAHER is an advocate, writer, and speaker on topics dealing with negative emotions. Being on the client side of therapy gave Maher tools for learning to regain control over negative emotions, which led her to write her first book. Aimed at young children, Maher teaches language and strategies for managing shame at its earliest stages. A major catalyst for writing the book was seeing the early signs of shame in her own children. She knew from her own experiences that having the right tools at the right time can prevent future struggles with shame and other limiting emotions. Maher has expanded her focus into a platform she now shares around the country through podcast, her website, and speaking engagements. She lives in Nashville with her husband Matt and their three children.