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Stranger Danger Picture Book

Stranger Danger and How to Keep Kids Safe

What Does It Mean to Be Safe? by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Sandra Salsbury [picture book, ages 4-9]

It’s easy to be paranoid as a parent since, if you keep up with the news, danger lurks everywhere. It used to freak me out even before I was a parent, hearing stories repeatedly about bad things that happen all around us. I finally had a revelation from the speaker at my business school graduation (Peter Guber, a media mogul — I was in Los Angeles, after all). Just Turn It Off.

That worked for me. Instead of the Metro section, I read the Magazine and the Travel section. Instead of the local paper, I switched to The Wall Street Journal. As a classmate pointed out, if you read The Wall Street Journal it is as if nothing bad happens in the world.

Now, with three kids, I can’t use avoidance as a personal safety strategy.  We need policies for our children. Luckily my husband is not paranoid, and we’ve adopted a moderate approach to our kids’ safety. Helmets and seat belts are non-negotiable. Permission to cross the street is a license that you earn. We actually call it a Crossing License and it’s good just to cross our street but not a major intersection. It can also be revoked. My kids get special Stranger Danger training at their elementary school which is reinforced at their karate class. And internet safety is an ongoing concern. We know this is something to constantly monitor and keep up with as it is something that morphs rapidly.

Rana DiOrio’s book tackles all these safety issues that kids face growing up in suburbia. She does it in a calm and gentle way, raising the right points but without making it scary. I like how she touches on listening to your inner voice and standing up to bullies. This is the kind of book that reinforces the messages that we parents give. It allows for dialogue should an issue come up, but it can also just be an gentle reminder of how to stay safe. And that’s exactly the message that I want to impart to my kids.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

22 Comments

  1. I really admire parents today with all the challenges they have raising children. Including dangers and how to deal with them. The world is just so complicated. Thanks for sharing how you stay sane – I wouldn’t have thought to use the WSJ for that, but you’re right!

  2. It amazes me how the world has changed, yet a parent’s concern for their child never changes. I agree that worrying about the dangers can overwhelm parents and trying not to obsess while still being mindful is a good thing.

  3. tony

    I love the tip about the WSJ. It is so true these days that children have so much more coming at them from so many directions, and parents need to ber more vigilant than ever. Thanks for sharing this book.

  4. I’m with you — I could force myself to not be afraid for my own safety, but the kids came along and paranoia didn’t seem like a disorder when it came to THEIR safety!

    This book would have helped SO MUCH!

    • To Marian,
      I also love how this book ever so gently points out how to be safe without making anyone (including the parents) paranoid or scared! It’s the perfect balance and message!

  5. For me, the most rewarding result of this book so far is the conversations it catalyzes not only between children and their grownups but also among the grownups. Information is power . . . and safety. Thanks for your perspective, Pragmatic Mom. We appreciate you! ~ Rana DiOrio

    • To Rana,
      Hats off to you on being able to juggle so many balls in the air! Your book is a really useful conversation tool for parents to discuss safety with their children in a safe and comforting way.

  6. Andrea D

    And don’t forget that we grandparents worry too! Rana’s Safe? book helps support all of the adults trying to protect children. Much appreciation for sharing your safety strategies too. Living in a metropolitan area, I especially like your idea about earning a Crossing License!

    • To Andrea D,
      Good point!! Grandparents would love this book too and might want to consider as a gift to their grandkids! Thanks also for the kind words about the Crossing License. Haven’t revoked any lately!

  7. Adriana Palmeira

    Overall, I simply love how this book empowers children to think of their own safety maturely. As a parent, I often forgot how to empower my son to be responsible for his own safety as I am an over protective single mother. I read this book this morning, I simply love its reflective power and I do believe children will take more control of their own safety and actions as this book is truly encouraging children to reflect on “being aware of [their] own limits and honoring them” as it has been written by Rana DiOrio on What Does It Mean To Be Safe. Oh I also love the illustrations. Thanks, thanks!!!!

  8. My kids are grown now. It seems like with each year the world gets scarier. I’m glad to see this book come out. It’s a great help for parents.

    • To Helen,
      I am with you! I’m not sure the world is changing all that much?! But there is a perception that the world is getting scarier. Are people more scary out there or is it the media? I am not sure!

  9. Helena Brantley

    Our girls are a wee-bit young for this new edition in the “What Does it Mean to Be …?” series, but I appreciate early thinking on some of the safety issues raised. And since I am known to almost always give books as gifts to kids (adults too), this one arrives just in time for holiday gift-giving!

    Oh, and thanks for the good advice about not using “avoidance as a personal safety strategy!”

    • To Helena,
      I can see this as a great tool for preschoolers even though the recommended age is elementary school, but as a mother you know your children best! We all should listen to our inner voices! Just like Rana suggests in her book!

  10. Katy

    I have a new appreciation for the WSJ besides the Weekend section! I agree, we need policies for our children…that are enforced! Each generation of parents have their own challenges and need the help and support of everyone…Rana’s book; What Does It Mean To Be Safe? starts that conversation. Another great stop on the blog tour! Thanks!

  11. Jen

    I agree that most news these days tends towards the grim….I know many people who “avoid” it all together just to see it plastered all over the televised news….the world seems a bit topsy turvy these days which makes it all the more essential for the children, who will be handed this legacy, understand what it means to be safe. Thank you, Rana, for facilitating this vital life lesson in such a friendly, caring manner.

    • To Jen,
      I guess grim “realistic” news sells! And that is the media’s job — selling content rather than reporting in a balanced way what is out there in the world. I think books like Rana’s really helps to create conversation with a balance of both safety while feeling safe.

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