The Paw Elementary series is truly something special. I was introduced by chance by entering a photo contest of my dog Buster to be a guest character. Not until after did I really know what the books were about and I think the message is so important. Being a huge mental health advocate and having plenty of years under my belt dealing with crippling anxiety and fear, this series really spoke to me.
The series is geared toward kids’ fearful firsts; the dentist, haircut, and the latest swimming. While there are many books out there about overcoming your fears, what this series does is take you back to the beginning. It takes you back to the first fears you experience, which is something very unique to the message. And in my opinion, tackling fears on the earlier on in life the better. We are so absorbent as young children, taking in the world around us, and understanding what it’s all about. This is the time these concepts need to be introduced. A young child who develops confidence in themselves is going to grow into an adult with more confidence.
Having read the books myself, I think what Katie Melko has created is really wonderful. There simply needs to be more of this out there for children! Learning that it’s ok to be afraid and then facing and overcoming those fears is a very empowering message. It is teaching both acceptance and self-confidence. Also, since it is a series, it shows that fear is going to show up for all kinds of new experiences, it is an ongoing thing we work on. Having the characters be dogs and cats also makes fear a universal experience while creating a whole new fun world of the Paw Elementary community.
What I feel is especially important is the recognition of overcoming a fear. It is one thing to do it, but another when it is actually brought to your awareness. It makes us not take for granted those moments where we overcame something truly scary for us. So, when it’s celebrated it helps us develop an appreciation for ourselves and our experiences.
I am looking forward to introducing this series into my life through our read to a dog program. Reading these stories with our kids can help spark a conversation of what their fears are and how they overcome them. Our reading program is designed to help struggling readers overcome their fear of reading aloud, so while they read these stories they are actually living the message this series represents!
~Christina and Buster