Approachable picture books teach kids to stay safe

safetybooksFor Arizona kids, “summer” is just another word for “more.”

More heat, sunshine, sunscreen and ice cream; more hours to fill with friends and family, and with play, screen, swim and sleep time.

More popsicles, board games, backyard adventures and bike rides.

Maybe even more time to read, daydream and watch the stars come out.

Yes, summer means more — mostly fun things, but also more opportunities for being overstimulated in unfamiliar surroundings, or bored in over-familiar ones, either of which can invite minor league improvisations and judgment lapses, which can lead to major league accidents.

Safety training, especially for 3- to 7-year-olds just beginning to venture into the wide world, is critically necessary, as all parents know.

But how best to get kids to pay attention long enough for a summer refresher that is taken seriously without being terrifying?

One answer is to share humorous picture books about safety.

The Canadian author-illustrator team of Jean E. Pendziwol and Martine Gourbault have produced a series of funny, rhymed books that tackle bullies, and fire, water and stranger danger in clever, non-threatening ways.

In “No Dragons For Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons),” a girl invites a friendly dragon to a tea party. His accidental sneeze sets the room ablaze. Embarrassed and scared, dragon wants to hide, but his well-trained hostess saves the day.

Dragon returns to visit the beach with his friend and her dad and learns much-needed lessons in water safety in “A Treasure at Sea for Dragon and Me: Water Safety for Kids (and Dragons).”

In “Once Upon a Dragon: Stranger Safety for Kids (and Dragons),” Dragon and his friend visit fairy tale land, where he gets turned into several famous story characters who keep getting taken in by bad guys. His friend is wise to their tricks, however, and she keeps them safe.

Our spunky girl stands up to a bully in shining armor who’s teasing Dragon in “The Tale of Sir Dragon: Dealing with Bullies for Kids (and Dragons),” and takes her complaint to the king, who holds a royal council to find solutions.