Lions Aren’t Scared of Shots

A Story for Children About Visiting the Doctor

Illustrated by M.S. Weber
32 pages  •  Published 2006 (Magination Press)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Publisher's Summary: Molly is worried. It’s time for her doctor visit and she doesn’t want to go. She likes Dr. Ryan. She just doesn’t like shots! But with the help of her imagination, Molly finds her courageous inner lion right when she needs it the most.For parents, a note by psychologist and author Jane Annunziata offers advice and tips for encouraging their own little lion to feel comfortable and brave with routine checkups, sick visits, shots, and other medical procedures.
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: This book might prevent or reduce children’s fear of the doctor and/or shots by walking children through the typical components of a well-child doctor’s appointment so they feel prepared and by teaching them a visualization strategy to reduce anxiety (and pain) during a vaccination. It’s fairly cute and also quite informative. It’s great for caregivers to read with children prior to a check-up and could be an entry for therapists into a conversation about a child’s fear of shots.
Would a child like it? A child who hates the doctor and getting shots will probably resist this book that is clearly about the doctor and getting shots. It might still help them. A child who is a bit nervous about the doctor might actually enjoy this book and find it a reassuring read prior to a check-up.
Evidence-Based Practices: Visualization
Tone: Silly, reassuring
Story Quality: This book walks a child through the typical components of a well-child visit at a pediatrician’s office, including the nurse taking a child’s height, weight, and blood pressure, and the doctor examining the child’s eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and reflexes. The final piece of the visit is a vaccination shot. The doctor plays a silly game of confusing the little girl with different animals, in order to make the appointment more fun for her. For example, as he examines each part of her body, he says things like, “I didn’t know you were a monkey…Your arms are very strong…I bet you could swing from the highest branches in the jungle.” By the end of the book, the little girl declares herself a lion who is brave and ready to get her shot. For an informational book like this, It’s really quite cute.
Illustrations: The drawings are fine–perhaps a bit dated-looking, but they’re not off-putting.
Representation: Molly is a 5-year-old White girl with a White mom. Her pediatrician, Dr. Ryan is a Black man. The nurse, Nurse Carol is a White woman. There is a White family and a Black family in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Molly does not have any medical or developmental concerns identified by the doctor.
Psychological Practices: This book prepares a child for a well-child check-up by walking them through the different components of the appointment so they’re not surprised or caught off guard in way that could be anxiety-inducing (e.g., by a doctor pushing on their stomach or sticking an instrument in their ear). It specifically addresses fear of shots by providing honest information about the experience and a coping skill (visualization ): “It will feel like a quick sting, and if you imagine you’re a monkey swinging in the jungle or an eagle soaring overhead, you won’t notice it so much.”
Concerns: None.