Is pre-K too young to learn about serial killers?

Cover of "Cujo (Signet)"

Cover of Cujo (Signet)

There was recently a hubbub among the parents of graduates of a Park Slope pre-school. As the little pitsels started Kindergarten it seemed a few of them were choosing to instead hide under the covers in fear. You see, a book on their pre-school curriculum that was actually meant to prepare them for the first day of big kid school instead scared the beejesus out of the four- and five-year-olds in the class.

What was the book?

The Teacher from the Black Lagoon, a Scholastic book originally published in 1989 and recommended on Amazon for children ages four to eight.

I wonder, have we changed so much since 1989 that what was a fun romp through Kindergarten is now something that makes our kids curl up in the fetal position? Is this another case of helicopter parenting and the destructive results? As soon as I learned to read, Hans Christian Anderson was a constant companion. I returned again and again to the tragic tales of The Little Match Girl and The Tin Soldier. By sixth grade I was borrowing a dog-eared and heavily underlined copy of Cujo from a classmate.  I don’t think it warped me unless you consider the fact that when my husband and children leave the house it takes me a minute to oppress the vivid imaginings about what could possibly on happen on their way to school and/or midtown Manhattan. Hmmm, maybe a little warp.

So I picked up a copy of the offending kid book and read it (while hiding it from my own pre-schooler, as I don’t need to have her cowering when it’s her turn to enter the halls of primary school) and it was scary. The teacher murdered or tortured the kids one by one in very creative and vile ways. Of course the little boy woke up to realize it was a dream and his real teacher was a super nice blonde woman with nary a chainsaw in site.

I don’t think I’ll be pulling this out until at least 3rd grade – a few years after I probably would have wanted to get my hands on it as a child. Maybe that makes me a helicopter parent, I’m not sure. I think at times my natural inclination to protect my child from things I was not extends past the Druncle at the family reunion into the every day. And personally, I recommend you take a look at this book – that’s also popping up on the Halloween end cap at Barnes & Noble – before you use it as an introduction to the first day of school for the kiddos lest you have them more petrified than prepped.

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