Scary Stories: When the Horror Is Real

What if your child’s assigned reading for the summer includes stories that are frightening but are – or could be – real, such as The Diary of Anne Frank or To Kill A Mockingbird? How can you help your child cope?

Read novels with your child, and talk about what you are reading. Consider buying two paperback copies of a novel, so you and your child each have your own.

Trust yourself in these discussions. You know your child and understand the intensity of a particular issue for him better than anyone else.

Emphasize the strengths of the characters. Discuss the courage of Anne Frank or Atticus Finch in your talks with your child. Point out their optimism and the positive aspects of who they were.

See these stories as providing an understanding of ourselves and how we fit into society. Avoid placing blame, and try to go beyond the fear of what happened in a particular situation to the cause of that fear.

Make a practice of talking about books. If you discuss books with your child on a regular basis before the first book of real impact comes along, you will both be used to talking about stories and their impact on you.

Remember that there’s a hierarchical structure for serious issues. In dealing with children and war, you don’t have to start with The Diary of Anne Frank. There are plenty of picture books that will introduce this topic in a gentler, more age-appropriate way.

Return to: Scary Stories: Are they Good for your Child?

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Judy Molland is the education editor for United Parenting Publications.