I Am (Not) Scared

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
I Am (Not) Scared Book Poster Image
Two scaredy bears who face their fears are relatably funny.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

Identifies common fears people may have -- of spiders, snakes, and roller coasters.

Positive messages

Everyone is scared of things. You can admit your fears to a friend. Maybe they're scared, too! You can try something even if you feel fear, and maybe you'll end up liking it.

Positive role models & representations

Both bears have fears they admit to and talk about. They decide to go on the roller coaster even though it scares them. They realize that there's comfort in being "scared together." In the end, by trying something they're afraid of, they realize they're no longer scared.

Violence & scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Am (Not) Scared by husband-and-wife team Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant brings back the fuzzy bear friends they introduced in You Are (Not) Small and That’s (Not) Mine. In this one, two bears who are considering going on a wild, scary roller coaster admit their fears to each other, go on the coaster despite their fears, and end up having a good time. The book can open up conversation about fears and how to face them. Because the text is simple dialogue, and the art is fun and cartoony, the book is works well for the very young.

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What's the story?

In I AM (NOT) SCARED a big orange bear and a little purple bear are considering going on a roller coaster. They accuse each other of being scared, but each admit that they're afraid of other things, such as snakes and hairy spiders. When the roller coaster car rolls up -- with a snake inside! -- the two bears get on, hug each other, and agree to be "scared together.” As the coaster takes off and it's a wild ride, the bears shout, "I AM SCARED!" But then they want to ride again, and this time they shout "WE ARE SCARED!" with thrilled smiles on their faces.

Is it any good?

This fun and funny young book has fuzzy, endearing bears who may be afraid of snakes and wild roller coasters but in the end aren't afraid of admitting and facing their fears. Because I Am (Not) Scared has warm, relatable characters, the message -- that it's OK to be afraid and good to face fears -- goes down easily. There's humor in both text and art. The coaster is called "Loop of Doom," and the two friends scare themselves and each other by listing all the things they're afraid of. A tub of hairy spiders! A pan of fried ants! Their expressions are exaggerated and funny, defusing readers' fears.

Might there sometimes be occasions when it's prudent for kids to respect their fear and listen to it? This book doesn't address that, but that could be part of the family discussions this book can help to spark.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the bears' fears in I Am (Not) Scared. What are the bears afraid of? What are some things you're afraid of?

  • When you're afraid of something, how do you face your fears? What helps you feel braver?

  • Are there times when you're afraid of something for a good reason? What can you do if someone pressures you to do something you're not comfortable with or you don't think is safe?

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