illustration of a worried girl with words swirling around her head

Artwork © 2019 by Raina Telgemeier, from the book GUTS published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

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It Takes Guts

Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels are known around the world. Here’s how she became a famous author—and why she decided to write about her own life. 

Joseph Fanvu Photography

    Raina Telgemeier has loved to draw since she was a kid. She’s also always struggled with anxiety. Anxiety is a medical condition that makes a person feel very worried or afraid. More than 4 million kids in the U.S. have anxiety.

    When Raina grew up, she became a graphic novelist. That means she creates books that tell stories through words and pictures. She decided to base her books on her own life experiences—even her experience with anxiety. We talked to her about how sharing her struggles has made her feel less alone.

When did you start drawing to tell stories?

    In first grade, one of my assignments was to keep a diary. I would put both words and pictures in mine. I’ve been telling stories through art ever since. 

How did you find your drawing style?

    It’s kind of a mash-up of different things that I liked. If you put all the comics I love into a blender, you would get my style.

Was it ever scary to write books about your own life and experiences?

    I’ve always written and drawn about my own experiences, so putting those stories in a book felt very familiar. Then I realized that a lot of people would be reading them, and that was a little scary! 

What does anxiety feel like for you?

    It feels like my worries take over my brain. My stomach hurts. My head hurts. My heart races. It’s like I can’t stop thinking about the thing I’m worried about.

How do you make your anxiety go away?

    I can’t really make it go away. But I’ve learned to live with it. I can make it quieter by talking to it. I pretend my anxiety is a person and try to make it see that things aren’t so scary. 

What advice do you have for kids who have anxiety?

    Find people to talk about it with. They could be your friends, your family, your teacher, or a therapist. When you feel scared, you might feel alone. Talking to people helps you know that you’re not alone. 

Artwork © 2019 by Raina Telgemeier, from the book GUTS published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Her Life in Cartoons  
Raina Telgemeier’s book Guts is about her childhood. Raina has always had anxiety—that’s a medical condition that makes a person feel very worried or afraid. Guts tells the story of how Raina learned to deal with anxiety.

ACTIVITY: 
Mini Skills Workout

Raina says that writing books about her life felt familiar. Think of another word that means familiar and write it on a separate sheet of paper. 

When did Raina begin using art to tell stories? 

Find a sentence in which Raina explains how talking to others can help you deal with anxiety and feeling alone. Write it on a separate sheet of paper.

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