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I Used to Be Afraid
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I Used to Be Afraid

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  382 ratings  ·  93 reviews
There are a lot of things to be afraid of in this world: spiders, the dark, being alone. In this simple, beautifully-crafted picture book, acclaimed author/illustrator Laura Vaccaro Seeger shows that what seems scary at first, can become magical. It all depends on perspective. Using die-cuts, learn that a scary spider can actually produce an intricate and gorgeous web and ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Roaring Brook Press (first published September 15th 2015)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  382 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Fear doesn't shut you down; it wakes you up”
― Veronica Roth, Divergent

A girl notes down the things she's afraid of. Certainly a good choice for the toddlers.
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Explore things that are frightening in this picture book and then see that you can turn it all around and not be frightened any more. Spiders are creepy but also very cool. Shadows can be scary, but you can also create shadow puppets. The dark is frightening, but change your perspective and you can see the stars. One after another, this book takes a fear and then looks at it in a fresh way. From moving to a new home to being alone, each fear is shown and then re-examined. This is a good book to ...more
Antoinette Scully
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
A random library find for me, this simplistic book of affirmations gives children a chance to see their worries can be resolved. Each set of pages is “I use to be afraid of ___, but not anymore.” Good to give your young ones some confidence if they have some mild anxieties. My rating is based on how much my kids likes it.
Maggi Rohde
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I hope saying "not anymore" to these fears is empowering instead of discouraging. The big brother being the only scary thing left is kind of annoying. These are minor complaints, though, and I think this would be a great book to have on the shelf of any toddler or young child.
Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I love how the author doesn't make the character find human friends. It's okay for kids to not want to play with other people and to just read books sometimes.
Stacie Thomas
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brief Summary:
The narrator of this book conquers her fears by seeing the beneficial side of the things that she is afraid of. She expresses her fear of spiders, the dark, being alone, shadows, mistakes, and change and uses those fears to become a stronger and more open minded individual. This short picture book uses the creative placement of holes in the pages to encourage young readers to not only shed light, but a new view on things that may seem frightening at first.

Major Themes:
Major Themes
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 0-k, ps-readalouds
In this simple book, a school-aged girl talks about the different things that she used to be afraid of but is no longer after reframing them (spiders, the dark, being alone). The last scary thing, her big brother, does not follow the pattern in two different ways, ending on a playful note. The illustrations, reminiscent of Eric Carle, include a cutout on each page that suggests a reframing. Lots to talk about with this book; a perfect interactive read-aloud.
Rebecca Bland
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Clever is the word that I would use to describe this book. In a creative way, the book explores how our fears can turn into beautiful things and have beautiful outcomes when we embrace them and we aren't afraid anymore.
I loved the illustrations in this picture book. The colorful pages takes the reader through each fear that the little girl conquers. Such a wonderful way to talk about the things that make us afraid and how we can get a little braver with each fear we conquer.
A book that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm usually quite dubious of books with die cuts, but LVS does a great job with them in this book.
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fear requests
Recommended to June by:
I am doing a feelings story time and I think this might work since I get younger children 2's and 3s. Bright bold pictures with cutouts usually keep their interest.
A child (white skin, brown hair) reflects on things that they used to be afraid of, but which they have since reframed and are no longer frightened by. Cut-outs in the pages make the transition from the fearful past to the reframed present visually pleasing. A high note is that when the main character says they used to be afraid of being alone, the reframing of this fear isn't that the child is next seen playing with friends, but is instead seen reading contentedly on their own. A low point is t ...more
Jo Oehrlein
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
In her trademark style that includes cutouts from one page to the next, this shows a child and the things they used to be afraid of, but now can appreciate.

It includes spiders, the dark, shadows, making a mistake, being alone, and more. The one thing she admits to still being afraid of occasionally? Her big brother.

Maybe a good read for a perfectionist, to talk about not being afraid of mistakes.
Molly Cluff (Library!)
I love the cut-outs that hint at the next page. This would probably fun for a storytime around October (some more advanced concepts in there like "change" and "loneliness", so maybe more for Preschool than Toddlers)
Nadia L. Hohn
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting die-cut design in the illustrations. This is a book that I think 1-3 year olds will enjoy with an adult reader. I am fairly new to knowing the conventions of early picture books, admittedly.
Rachael Scott
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it
This book covers a lot of fears that children face but it doesn't really address how the main character overcame their fears. Just, "I used to be afraid of ___, but not anymore." It's a good book but I wish there were a little bit more. The pictures are amazing!
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The cutouts go page to page which is easy to follow along. Shows progress in lessening fear response which can be hopeful for kids
Donna Mork
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Little girl says she used to be afraid of: the dark, change, being alone, but not anymore. She is over all her fears, except...her brother.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile
Facing fears
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
A little girl faces down common childhood (and adult!) fears, and pronounces she is not afraid anymore. Theme of facing your fears, looking at situations differently, and making the best of things.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-books
Super cute! Love the message that readers need not fear being alone.
Mackenzie Virginia
5 stars for Illustrations
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
SEL, inferring, writing craft, mentor text “I used to...”
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
The story is good and the illustrations are Fabulous! The cover image is hauntingly realistic in evoking the feeling of fear...
A little one discovers that they are afraid of many things, until they can see these things from a different perspective.
Viviane Elbee
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is a good book for preschoolers because it’s a quick read (not too many words) and the main character is relatable. The cut-outs in the pages are fun too.
Lynn  Davidson
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
A little girl used to be afraid of many things, but not anymore because she found reasons to not be afraid. Nicely illustrated.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Genre: Contemporary Realistic
Grade: 1-3
I love how she turned her fears into something cool and not so scary anymore. I also love the use of die-cuts.
Amber Garner
Sep 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a book geared for young ages. One thing i really enjoyed about this book is that one page would say what she was afraid of then when you turn the page she will over come her fear and say she isn't afraid of it anymore.
Hillary Dillon
What are you afraid of? In this picture by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, a young girl lists things that she is afraid and how she became unafraid of them.
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Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a New York Times best-selling author and illustrator and the recipient of a 2008 Caldecott Honor, Theodor Seuss Geisel Honors for both 2009 and 2008, a 2007 New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award, and the 2007 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book. Her books include First the Egg, The Hidden Alphabet, and Dog and Bear, among others.

Raised on Long Island, N

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