Children choose their heroes more carefully than we think. From Pokemon to the rapper Eminem, pop-culture icons are not simply commercial pied pipers who practice mass hypnosis on our youth. Indeed, argues the author of this lively and persuasive paean to the power of popular culture, even violent and trashy entertainment gives children something they need, something that can help both boys and girls develop in a healthy way. Drawing on a wealth of true stories, many gleaned from the fascinating workshops he conducts, and basing his claims on extensive research, including interviews with psychologists and educators, Gerard Jones explains why validating our children’s fantasies teaches them to trust their own emotions, helps them build stronger selves, leaves them less at the mercy of the pop-culture industry, and strengthens parent-child bonds. Jones has written for the Spider-Man, Superman, and X-Men comic books and created the Haunted Man series for the Web. He has also explored the cultural meanings of comic books and sitcoms in two well-received books. In Killing Monsters he presents a fresh look at children’s fantasies, the entertainment industry, and violence in the modern imagination. This reassuring book, as entertaining as it is provocative, offers all of us-parents, teachers, policymakers, media critics-new ways to understand the challenges and rewards of explosive material. News From Killing Monsters: Packing a toy gun can be good for your son-or daughter. Contrary to public opinion, research shows that make-believe violence actually helps kids cope with fears. Explosive entertainment should be a family affair. Scary TV shows can have a bad effect when children have no chance to discuss them openly with adults. It’s crucial to trust kids’ desires. What excites them is usually a sign of what they need emotionally. Violent fantasy is one of the best ways for kids to deal with the violence they see in real life.
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