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ERIC Number: EJ852629
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 36
ISSN: ISSN-1946-7109
Picture Books: Can They Help Caregivers Create an "Illusion of Safety" for Children in Unsafe Times?
McNamee, Abigail; Mercurio, Mia Lynn
Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education, v4 n2 Fall 2006
The authors believe that children need to feel safe--they need the illusion of safety--so that they can develop in a healthy way. But it is an "illusion" because in reality safety is never guaranteed for anyone. At times, traumatic events disrupt the safe environments that people have created. Janoff-Buhlman (1992) describes the "shattering of illusions"--one of them being the illusion of safety--that takes place when people experience trauma. Children sometimes experience traumatic events first-hand, but they can also experience trauma vicariously as well. When children become vicariously aware of war, large-scale violence, and terrorism, their illusion of safety may become bruised. The bruising may take the form of worrying about whether the adults in their life, whom they have assumed to be powerful enough to guarantee their safety, may not be able to keep them safe. When that happens, the illusion of safety needs to be reestablished. Adults can help to reestablish this illusory sense of safety using children's literature about violence--a rather new genre, within which some picture books have become available. It is essential, however, that when adults use children's literature focused on violent topics, they do so with an understanding of children's dominant age-related fears, behaviors, and needs and connect these to those fears, behaviors, and needs that may be created by traumatic events. This article focuses on how adult readers can assess children's picture books and use them to engender an illusion of safety, reestablished by caring adults.
University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. 3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A