Last month was Fire Safety Month, so my daughter and I decided to check out a book about fire safety. Naturally, most of the books were checked out, but Margery Cuyler’s Stop, Drop, and Roll was available. It’s a “Jessica Worries Book,” which we didn’t really understand until we checked out the book and realized that the main character, Jessica, just likes to worry about everything.
I don’t know about you, but my child doesn’t need more things to worry over—and seeing other people worry about things is the number one thing that will make her do so! Still, we decided to check out the book and see what kind of information it offered.
Most of it was very helpful information, such as not touching a door that is hot to the touch, or making sure that the smoke detectors have current batteries. Some of it wasn’t really applicable; for example, there is no way we can afford to install a sprinkler system in our house, and I really don’t want my daughter to have to worry about that, either.
The main character is singled out and asked to remember the phrase, “Stop, Drop, and Roll” for a school assembly. She stresses about it and cannot seem to remember the phrase for the life of her, replacing it with several funny phrases that are enjoyable to read aloud, but are not correct in the least. This is ironic since most kids can remember that phrase above all of the rest of the fire safety information they are expected to learn, so perhaps it’s used as a tactic to either help other kids learn or to simply let the kids laugh since they know the “real” answer.
However, I would use the book to focus more on the information that Jessica can’t remember about keeping electric heaters three feet away from things that can burn, or not playing with lighters and matches. There is a lot of important fire safety information in the book that’s pretty much just plowed through, and it would be good to go back to the information routinely and focus on one item at a time, maybe allowing children to act out situations in which they would encounter such things while they absorb it all. Otherwise, the book has more comic relief than helpful material; the main character even refers to the fire safety material as “Blah, blah, blah.”
Once you’ve read the book with your child, if you choose to, you might want to do what the family in the book does and check your smoke detector batteries together, plan an exit route for a fire if you don’t yet have one, and discuss general fire safety. Whether you read the book or not, of course, doing these things is always a good idea!