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My almost 4 year old son has recently shown an interest in Greek mythology. He likes the mythical creatures, heroes, etc. I purchased a book for us to read together (we always read a story before bedtime) which he enthusiastically chooses each night.

When I purchased the book online, I was aware that it is intended for older children, but I wasn't able to preview much of the content. As anyone familiar with these myths will know, they are often quite violent and many of the lessons they teach us are beyond the comprehension of a young child, but I wasn't sure how the book would handle the subject matter. As it turns out, while illustrated in a cartoonish way, there are many depictions of violence and gore (monster slaying and the like). I tend not to worry much about age appropriateness, assuming he seems comfortable and it's his choice, and I haven't really noticed this having much of an effect on him (besides an increase in monster related questions).

All that to say, I'm wondering what the potential downsides (or upsides even) to this approach are? Are there any serious risks in allowing and enabling him to explore this sort of thing at such a young age? (I found this to be an interesting read in favor of exposing children to violence, though it's not clear at what age/level of maturity)

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Some personal opinions (based on experiences with my own children):

  • Material is not so much "age-appropriate" as "child-appropriate". Each child has different things they handle well or not so well.
  • The same child may enjoy a Tyrannosaurus going on a rampage, yet have nightmares over a kitten getting hurt.
  • I feel that with material the child is exposed to in your presence and with your participation, it's perfectly OK to experiment a bit in finding out what they can handle.
  • The important part is to observe the child closely while exposing them to the material (as you appear to be doing), and be prepared to switch material immediately if they don't appear to be comfortable with it. Part of this is also to double check later whether they reacted badly overnight etc.

And Greek mythology, in particular, can be a quite edifying read. I was an avid reader of these myths at a rather young age myself, and enjoy them to this day.

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  • thank you for sharing, this is very much how I think about it. nice to hear from someone else – aw04 Jan 23 at 20:53
  • Hi! Thanks for sharing your ideas. Can you back up your opinions, though, with specifics from your experiences? Thanks! – Joe Jan 23 at 21:58

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