I recently discovered the book, Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream! by Martha Heineman Peiper and illustrated by Jo Gershman, which is a book about how a child (actually, the character is a kangaroo!) learns how to understand the cause of his bad dreams that often have him running to his parents’ room in the middle of the night.
The nightmares depicted aren’t scary in a dark and stormy night kind of way…they are more upsetting situations for a child (i.e. not getting dessert for 3 days, being locked out of the house, growing so big he couldn’t get a hug from daddy, being left by a friend). None of the illustrations have monsters and won’t scare your child…
The parents teach Joey (the kangaroo) that “dreams are stories we tell ourselves for a reason. We just have to understand the reason.” After each bad dream, they ask him if something upsetting happened to him that day and he begins the process of understanding his bad dream.
I really liked how the parents helped Joey understand the cause of each bad dream instead of just saying, “it was just a dream…go back to sleep” or trying to explain that he’s safe in the house. Having the knowledge about why he was having the dream empowered him to think about it more logically and be able to fall back asleep. By the third bad dream, Joey figured out what had caused the bad dream after running into his parents’ room and by the fourth (and last) dream, he is able to stay in his bed, rationalize what had caused the dream, and fall asleep all by himself.
The next morning, he shares his success with his parents who praise him for doing such a good job (and staying in his bed).
If your child has bad dreams, this is an excellent resource to have in your child’s book collection. The illustrations are wonderful, the story is engaging, your child will learn how to understand his dreams better AND you will learn how to respond to your child in a loving and constructive way the next time he comes into your room in the middle of the night.
This is one of the few children’s books on the market written for children about their bad dreams, and Dr. Pieper has hit a home run with this one! Her book has won numerous awards, including 2012 Independent Publisher Book Award (awarded Bronze in the National Category of Children’s Picture Books), Mom’s Choice Award (Highest Gold Award in Children’s Picture Books) and has a Parent-Tested, Parent-Approved Seal of Approval .
I would recommend this book for five year olds and up.