The First Time Series from Child’s Play International, Ltd. is reviewed by Rita Zobayan

My first memory of a dentist visit is of a dark waiting room that led into an office with a Mr. Men mobile over the examination chair and a few flower stickers on the white walls. Many years later, my daughters’ dentist office has multiple flat screen TVs with constantly playing DVDs, books and toys galore, a fish tank, and bright, multi-colored walls. For all the progress in aesthetics, however, a child’s fear of a visit to the dentist still remains.

Illustrated by Jess Stockham, the Child’s Play “First Time” series  of 8 titles ($5.99 each, Childs-play.com, ages 2 to 5) addresses children’s visits to a doctor, dentist, hospital, vet and *more. The easy-to-understand language, depictions of common procedures/situations, and culturally diverse illustrations provide a solid base for a parent to begin explaining what happens at these visits and whom the child will encounter.

Parents of younger children can use the illustrations to point out procedures, e.g., the little mirror goes into your mouth so the dentist can check your teeth. Parents of older children may find the text helpful in addressing a child’s questions and fears. Written from the viewpoint of the child (“I haven’t had a filling before. Will it hurt?”) and from the medical professional (“I’ll put some gel on your gum, so it shouldn’t hurt at all.”), the text provides clear explanations of what happens after the fun and games in the waiting room are over. Each book also features a glossary with definitions for personnel (dental hygienist), instruments (crutches), procedures (taking blood), and conditions (concussion). 

The books also address the more daunting aspects of these visits (an overnight stay at the hospital, an operation and a terminally ill pet).  Again, the simple explanations and matter-of-fact manner allow the parent room to provide more information and reassurance. For example, the Hospital book depicts a child being prepared for an operation. The nurse explains what will happen (“We will give you something to make you sleep. Then we’ll take you for the operation. When you wake up, it will all be over.”), while the mother holds the child’s hand. A parent can use this text to expand further and relate to their child’s situation: “You’ll be sleepy, too and I’ll be with you just like that mommy. When you wake up, I’ll be right there to help you feel better.”

While most children may never enjoy going to the doctor or dentist, the “First Time” series will help them understand what to expect. Of course, the promise of a small treat after a shot doesn’t hurt either.

*NOTE:  In this First Time series, you will find 8 books: Vet, Dentist,  Doctor, Hospital, Big Day Out, Nursery, Sleepover, and Babysitter.

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