The best types of children's books are the ones that have a lesson for the child and the grown-up reading it. Seth Meyers' new book, I'm Not Scared, You're Scared is one of those books. In an exclusive interview with Motherly, he tells us what his own kids think of his book and which character he personally identifies with most (hint: it's the character every parent with an anxiety disorder will also relate to).
The story centers around Bear, who is easily scared—this prevents him from having a lot of friends. But his one good friend, Rabbit, is never scared. So the two of them embark on an adventure together that leads to a scary climax, but ultimately resolves with both Bear and Rabbit bringing out the best in one another. It also shows Bear as he overcomes many of his fears to help his friend, finding his courage at the most important time.
"I think most parents will identify with Bear," Meyers tells Motherly. "Though at my house, I'm the bear and my wife is the rabbit."
As a fellow Bear myself, I related to his struggles with fear and anxiety—around getting hurt, trying new things, and exploring new places. It also happens that I, too, am married to a rabbit. This book is a great reminder that pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones is necessary sometimes, and it also helps parents remember what it's like being a kid and feeling brave far more often than we feel brave now.
"As a kid, you live without fear," Meyers explained. "As we get older, we aren't living with the same fearlessness we did in our childhoods (or our twenties). We learn that fear can be an excellent guide for safety, but fear can also be irrational—and that's OK too."
Meyers and his wife, Alexi Ashe, share three children together—sons Ashe, 5, and Axel, 3, and last fall, they welcomed daughter Adelaide. He dedicates I'm Not Scared, You're Scared to them, which he says is the part that thrills them the most.
"They go around talking about their names being in the book, and basically imply they wrote the book," he said.
Meyers says the book-writing process began at the beginning of the pandemic, when parents everywhere were filled with fear. While his three children may not have written it, they certainly helped with the edits. Because, after all, who could possibly be a better audience for a children's book than actual children? Who will work for free? It's a no-brainer.
"I forced them to help, and they were actually really helpful!" he said. "There were certain parts they told me weren't funny, or could be funnier, and they really helped shape the story."
When I read the book to my six-year-old daughter, she was riveted. She's an avid little reader already, but there are plenty of books that do not capture her attention the entire time. She laughed out loud more than once, thanks to the perfect writing and delightful and, admittedly, pretty funny illustrations by Rob Sayegh, Jr.