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Are these books too scary?

(23 Posts)
ilikenoodles Thu 06-Feb-14 12:56:11

Just a quick one,

Over the last few month my DS (year 1) has come home with a few books that I find to be a little inappropriate for his age....or am I just being precious? Please be honest, i don't mind!!!

One book was about a naughty boy who kept getting into trouble at home and when he did, his mother told him that this "monster thingy" would come and take him away if he did it the boy kept on doing naughy things....the book was largely about superstition (which I found differcult to explain to him) any hoo, at the end of the book, the "monster thingy" did indeed come and take him away, and that was it!! horrid!

Yesterdays book was about a girl no one wanted to play with cos they thought she was a witch and that if you said her name 3 times you would die!....the girl was pushed, kicked, smacked....nice!

My precious little angel : ) an august born boy who is really (even for his age) emotionally imature and over worries about everything anyway so they are defo not for him. I have left comments in him reading diary just saying that he found the subject upsetting and so on - should I have a little word? Would you be bothered at all?

Sorry it actually turned out quite long!

ContinentalKat Thu 06-Feb-14 13:01:11

These books do sound scary.
Dd read a book about haunted houses in Y1, had lots of nightmares afterwards. I had a chat with her teacher, apparently I wasn't the first parent to complain and the book was eventually taken out of the library.

ilikenoodles Thu 06-Feb-14 13:16:39

Thanks Continental. With last nights book about the girl being called a witch, we did obviously discuss her feelings of being left out and treated so badly but I could see how worried he was about the whole thing. I don't really think I need a book like that to approach the subject of bullying tbh. How do I expain to a 5 year old why the children thought they would die if they said her name 3 times? (this line was a key part of the story and featured on most pages). I might just mention something.

nicename Thu 06-Feb-14 13:17:21

The first book sounded like 'not Now, Bernard!' with bells on!

I've just scan-read one before I gave it to DS. All lovely and great until I got to the bit about infanticide, child suicide and murdering of the elderly. DS would never sleep with the lights off again.

DeWe Thu 06-Feb-14 13:21:38

Depends on your dc though.
Dd1 happily ready Harry Potter at 6yo, went onto Roman Mysteries, Alex Rider then Cherub stories.
Dd2 won't touch any of those even now at 10yo because she "knows" they're too scary. She was too scared to finish (or even more often start) many books that I wouldn't even register were possibly scary.
Ds (6yo) would love the books you're describing. He would think they were very exciting. He loved War horse (very interested in WW1 and 2) last year. However he's scared the wind might below him away at present and needs to hold a hand when outdoors.

Dd1 and ds can detact stories and reality. Dd2 has a lot of imagination and struggles with that.

ilikenoodles Thu 06-Feb-14 13:24:01

shock nicename!

He still watches mickeymouse club house and reads can't you sleep little bear at home - he is five after all. I don't think it'd bother some kids in his class, but then maybe it would.....I will screen them from now on. I had never read Jermima Puddleduck before until a year ago....thats the worst!!! How very sad! sad

ilikenoodles Thu 06-Feb-14 13:29:12

I see what your saying DeWe, although I do think there is a big difference between a fantasy book which you would expect to have lots of creepy things in and a book that for all the world looks like a normal book about "real" children in school or at home with their families that then have a fairly disturbing ending or miserable, sad content. It does absolutely depend on the child though, your right. He's quite sensitive I guess.

Adikia Thu 06-Feb-14 13:29:20

Yes they do sound a bit scary, although the first one made me think of Not Now Bernard which was my favourite book in year 1. DD(5) would probably find them really interesting but she's a horrible child like that and begs my 9 year old to tell her ghost stories. I would talk to the teacher and just say you don't think they are suitable for your child.

nicename Thu 06-Feb-14 13:32:49

I find that quite a lot of books have really scary themes that you can't just gloss over.

ilikenoodles Thu 06-Feb-14 13:35:38

Ok thanks adikia...the book was about a boy called John I think. As you say, your dd would like it and there is no reason the teacher would IME know my DS wouldn't so I don't wanna go in and complain or anything like that, I would have loved that sort of thing at his age I reckon too. I have left comments sayin he doesn't like the book and was frightened but we still get them sent home so I'll just mention it to the teacher in person.

ilikenoodles Thu 06-Feb-14 13:47:11

me too nicename, They're learning about hansel and gretal at school at the moment, It's not the witch that I find distressing but how do you get past the part the parents chose to abandon their children in the woods to starve instead of doing without themselves!...yeesh. Is it me?

PastSellByDate Thu 06-Feb-14 13:58:55

Hi ilikenoodles

I fear that some children's books are scary and that's part of the attraction.

If your child doesn't like his school book choice, just write in the homework diary that DS found this book too scary so we read X instead.

To be honest Where the Wild Things Are - a story I adored as a kid - terrified DD1 at age 4 - she worried she might wake up on an Island with monsters. She also found the monsters scary - when I didn't at all. (No problem at all with the Gruffalo by the way).

I think you just have to accept that some kids don't like being scared and others do. Some kids just know it's just a story - and others, perhaps because they have a vivid imagination, really believe the story or actively think about it.

My advice is check the reading age of the book - just type reading age TITLE on any search engine. Common sense media will often review books and let you know good & bad points:

see review for Where the Wild Things Are here:

Roald Dahl's The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) has also been considered scary (by DD2 this time): common sense media review here:

Of course there's absolutely no saving a poor Mum (your's truly) who get's so upset at the end of Charlotte's Web that her two DDs (then ages 6 & 8) have to finish the book for her, because she's crying so much, soppy old thing).


ilikenoodles Thu 06-Feb-14 14:07:02

Thanks that's really helpful!....Just had a quick look on and it looks helpful. I might just do as you say and read something else instead and put the comment in his book.

tbh i don't mind him being sensitive at all. I mean, if you can't be sensitive at five when can you be?


(poor Jermima Puddleduck just wanted to be a mum sad)

PastSellByDate Thu 06-Feb-14 14:14:45

Ah yes the Jemima Puddle duck incident. DD2 (age 3) had eyes the size of dinner plates when she got that the fox was planning to eat Jemima and make an omelette of her eggs. She was very upset that the fox had eaten all the eggs.

Don't even look at the original Grimm fairy tales - Cinderella's step sisters chop off their toes to fit into the glass slipper. Gruesome.

But I think that's part of the point - if it was all happy and lovely, they'd probably be really boring. Most children's stories (even Disney flicks) have a dark side.

And then your kids get old enough to discover Dr. Who and laugh at their old Mum hiding under the blanket.

ilikenoodles Thu 06-Feb-14 14:15:48

Maybe it bothers me because I don't feel capable of explaining these issues with him in a way he can understand.

nicename Thu 06-Feb-14 14:25:38

Doesn't the prince get his eyes pricked out with thorns on Sleeping Beauty?

There's something more 'acceptable' in ye olde fairy tales, that is just sinister in modern books. Sadly DS ready above his age and a lot of books are just grim (no pun intended).

I do skim through books now...
Murders, infanticide, suicide...nope
Kids dealing with terminal disease...nope
Kidnapping and alien abduction...nope

BirthdayMuppet Thu 06-Feb-14 14:39:18

That's precisely the point though, childrens fairy tales and stories are full of dark things - because it's a 'safe' way of introducing them to certain concepts before they have to experience them, it acts as a slow build up. Every child is different as to when that introduction should take place of course, but 'dark' books are very important as they grow up over the years.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 06-Feb-14 14:46:08

My Yr 1 DD would find that too scary. She found Chicken Licken too scary and we had to stop reading. Also finds some of the non-fiction pretty frightening, eg pictures of alligators and crocodiles attacking their prey. I realise that this is real life but is too upsetting for many 5 year olds.

I think it's especially a problem if their reading skills are above their real age when their emotional maturity is at (or even below) their real age. She finds Peter Rabbit on CBeebies too scary too. My DS, who is not yet 4, is much less worried about scary content then DD.

I do usually just write something like "Only read to p. 8 as DD was upset by content" if she's too scared.

nicename Thu 06-Feb-14 14:48:14

But when the story set in a place and time far away (kings, queens and wizards etc), it isn't as scary for kids - they are removed from the 'reality'.

The book I read was set in the future, but very recognisable, and it described a child watching his father injecting poison into the brain of a newborn baby - who was deemed 'unsuitable' for the community. The disabled, 'fretful' babies, one of a pair of identical twins... were murdered, as were the elderly. It was grim, I tell you!

ilikenoodles Thu 06-Feb-14 18:27:20

Gosh that sounds awful nicename! I do definately think that if books are set in fairytale type places it isn't as bad and books like snow white wouldn't be too scary for my ds, but these books are about normal kids and if it were a tv program with the same theme/content I would not allow him to watch it so I will be checking his books first and then not reading them if I don't think it's suitable. I know kids have to be introduced to certain things eventually but I do think 5 is too young for most.

Ghoul with a dragon tattoo, your right about the reading level thing and he is a good reader and thats part of the problem were book choice is concerned but I manage at home ok and I am sure they have must have more friendly books at school too - he was sent home with a lovely one called jungle shorts. he's definately not mature enough emotionally for scary books yet.

mrz Thu 06-Feb-14 18:46:57

Do you mind if I ask what books these were?

columngollum Thu 06-Feb-14 19:13:26

I think our teachers check the books for content first.

nicename Thu 06-Feb-14 19:27:56

The book I read was 'The Giver'. I forget the author.

On reflection, the themes were interesting - a future where society is ordered and emotion and colour has been extinguished.

People are 'released' - which everyone assumes is the equivalent to your cat 'going to live on a farm', but in fact 3-strike criminals, elderly, infirm, etc - anyone who doesn't measure up, are all killed in secret.

Everyone is allocated a job when they are 12 at a special 'age' ceremony - everyone essentially has the same birthday - by the Council. To be a 'birth mother' is seem as the lowest of the low. You have 3 babies in 3 years, then get sent to do hard labour until you enter the house of the old. You never marry or have children - children are also allocated (you have to apply for them) and you get two only, a boy and a girl.

The boy in the story gets allocated the job of 'receiver' which means that all the emotions and memories of the commune are passed into him for 'keeping' - so only he understands/feels pain, fear, love, joy, etc. Of course it does not end all that well.

For a much older child/young adult it is probably very thought provoking (how far should society go to be 'perfect'). Definately for an older reader.

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