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Conquering and Creating Fears

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On the same day I happened to acquire two books about conquering fears: Dick Gackenbach’s Harry and the Terrible Whatzit and Betty Paraskevas and Michael Paraskevas’ Maggie and the Ferocious Beast. The Big Scare. My daughter loves new (new as in new or borrowed or used) books so we read them both that evening. I hadn’t read them before. Now before I go on, I have to tell you that I do not usually check how age appropriate books are (The Big Scare, 2-6 — so age appropriate, and Whatzit doesn’t say on the book, but on amazon 5 and up) and I am not even sure what this means for little kids. If my daughter wants to read something with a lot of text, we try it. She doesn’t tend to pick up books that don’t have pictures (so most books she is interested in are aimed at her) and she doesn’t have the patience to sit through long books. I hadn’t encountered a book where I thought, hmmm maybe I shouldn’t have read that to her, it doesn’t seem appropriate. I didn’t think that while I was reading Whatzit and The Big Scare, but my daughter did not sleep well that night. After months of sleeping through the night without problems, she woke up twice, screaming. Maybe it wasn’t due to the books, but I am suspicious. The Big Scare goes through a whole list of fears (with pictures) to show that there is nothing to be afraid of because the fears discussed are fears of things that don’t exist. Harry and the Terrible Whatzit has Harry defeating a monster (the Whatzit) by not fearing it. The lesson of both stories is you can defeat fear by not being afraid. They are both (in very different ways) fun books (the Whatzit is awesome), but I fear my daughter was just introduced to a series of things that she could be afraid of (basements, closets, etc.). We don’t have a basement, so she didn’t know you could be afraid of it and that monsters could be living in it! The fears that are “conquered” in the books are very real. I remember being afraid of these things. Okay, honestly, I may still be afraid of dark basements and creaky closets. I am not sure the books helped me out either. So this may not be a matter of being age appropriate or not, but of overactive imaginations and a lack of rationality. Hopefully my daughter and I will be able to enjoy them without aftereffects in the future, but for now we are going to put the books away. And maybe read them one at a time, not one after another. 

One response »

  1. That monster-thing in the first picture is really scary, actually.


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