Reader Q&A with Matthew Syed


The challenges of the past year have made it clear how important self-belief, resilience and confidence are to young people's mental health.

Matthew Syed's books are all about easing anxiety, thinking positively and achieving your goals. His latest book Dare To Be You is all about what makes you different and how you can conquer your self-doubt and follow your own path. 

The new interactive Dare To Be You Journal is full of hacks, challenges and activities to help kids create their own plan to be themselves, think differently and boost happiness: you can read an extract here.

We love the fun illustrations, personal insights and simple exercises for reducing anxiety.

One of our reviewers, Imogen aged 8, had the chance to ask Matthew some questions about his writing, his latest book and what he plans next. Read on for the full Q&A.

Reader Q&A with Matthew Syed
Toppsta Reviewer, Imogen, Aged 8

1) How old were you when you started writing books?

I started writing when I retired from playing Table Tennis. I was about 29. I started writing articles for newspapers and sending them in. It took me a long time before anyone was willing to publish something that I had written! But I loved writing so I kept on trying. 

2) Why did you write the 'Dare to Be You' books?

More than anything I want children to have confidence in themselves and to feel comfortable following a path that might be a little bit different to those around them. Every single person has so much potential, it is just about finding your passion and not being afraid to give it your all. 

3) In the book you write about 'Kid Doubt', how did you learn about it?

Kid Doubt is based on the voice in my own head that has often held me back or made me feel like I am not quite good enough. I came to realise that everyone has a voice like this, their own Kid Doubt. 

4) Have you written any fiction books?

Not yet. But I love reading fiction books and maybe it would be a great challenge to try and write one of my own. 

5) What are you planning on writing about next?

I am really interested in the history of world (just a small topic!!) at the moment. So maybe I will write my next book about that. 

6) What is your favourite book you have written and why? 

Wow. That is a really tough question. I worked really hard on all of them and I hope they all enjoyable in their own way. I am proud of Black Box Thinking and the work I did to help the NHS after it was published. And if You Are Awesome or Dare To Be You make even one child a tiny bit more confident then that would make my day. 

7) I have started writing my own stories. Do you have any advice on how to become an author? 

Yes. Don't expect that your first go will be perfect. Mine definitely wasn't. The more you write the better you get. And I find it is always best to just make a start. Get something down on paper. You can always change it and make it better later. 

8) Do you still love table tennis?

Yes. I do. Although I don't play that often anymore. I play a lot of tennis now which I love too. 

9) Do you prefer reading fiction or non-fiction books? 

I read a lot of non-fiction books for my research and my work. I even taught myself to speed read so I can read as much as possible as quickly as possible. I read fiction to relax, and I love that. 

10) If you weren't an author what would you be instead?

Now that's a tricky one too. I might still be hobbling around a table tennis table!

Reader Q&A with Matthew Syed

Check out some of our readers' reviews of the journal:

"I really liked this book, it really helped me understand the way im feeling, and how i can look at things differently. some parts of it made me laugh too!!"
JJ, Aged 10

"It encourages you to think positively and get rid of doom and doubt. It also helps you be confident enough to be different and not follow everyone else."
Nourishedrohan, Aged 10

"It's a good way for me to focus my thoughts. I like the design and how it's set out"
Rpk, Aged 10

"I like the way the author makes you think about how you feel and why. The tasks were helpful and help you feel more confident."
istayte, Aged 8

"A great tool for teaching about resilience and mental health."

Reader Q&A with Matthew Syed
Book pages Placeholder Book

The Dare to Be You Journal

Boys and girls everywhere have been finding their awesome and daring to be themselves thanks to bestselling author Matthew Syed . Now he's created an interactive journal full of life hacks, challenges and activities to give kids the confidence to come up with their own plan of action to be themselves, live happy and think differently.

Whether thinking about what's truly important to you, seeing your differences as ultimately your greatest strengths , working out how to speak up for yourself or keeping anxiety at bay with breathing exercises, readers will love the brilliant activities in the Dare to Be You Journal. This is the perfect toolkit for anyone who wants to discover their own unique qualities and fearlessly step into the world.


First published


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