Dear American Girl,

There's a series of books I love to read. But the books give me nightmares! Sometimes the stories feel so real that I experience the scary moments right along with the characters. I want to keep reading these books, but I don't want to be a ball of nerves. What can I do?
-Squirming bookworm

Here's your advice:

Every couple of minutes, put the book down and think to yourself, This book is not real. It was written by a person who made everything up. Then resume reading. If you remind yourself these things are not actually happening to you, you can enjoy reading again.
-Caitlin, age 12, Illinois

After you read a portion of the scary book, read a lighthearted or calming book. It might help put your mind at ease.
-Melanie, age 11, California

If the books scare you too much, decide that you're not ready for this series until you're a little older. You can put them away for now or you can try to remind yourself that these are just stories to entertain readers.
-Shameecka, age 10, Georgia

Whenever you finish a chapter, imagine a non-scary ending. Make it as happy as you want to, and maybe you won't feel as scared.
-Kiera, age 13, Hawaii

When I'm afraid of something, I like to think about happy memories, such as scoring the winning goal in a soccer tournament or singing a solo in a school program. Whenever you feel those jitters, try your best to think positive thoughts.
-Sarah, age 11, Mississippi

If the books continue to give you nightmares but you still want to read them, why not read them with a parent? One of you can read out loud, and when you get to a part that scares you, tell your mom or dad. He or she could help you understand the part better so that you won't feel as scared or get nightmares.
-Ariel, age 10, Ohio

It may be hard, but if something you read upsets you, the best thing to do is to put the book down. If you keep reading, you might find it more difficult to do things you used to do all of the time, such as going down to the basement or walking into a dark room. Putting the book away might be hard, but you'll be thankful for the peace of mind.
-Zoe, age 9, Missouri

Just remember that these stories come from an author's imagination. If you start getting scared when you're reading, remind yourself that it's only fiction.
-Mollie, age 13, Texas

If your nerves get to be too much, take a break from reading. You might need some time to relax. Taking deep breaths and calming yourself down might be the cure for those creepy feelings.
-Aylin, age 10, Connecticut

Try to read these books only in the morning or afternoon. If you read them close to bedtime, there's more of a chance that you'll have nightmares.
-Sabrina, age 11, Indiana

When a story feels real, that's the sign of a good book! Try to stick with this series and remind yourself that the events in the books aren't actually taking place in real life.
-Paige, age 12, Washington

If the books are too scary for you, it might help to take a breather from them. Don't read the books for a few months, and then try them again. If they're still too scary, talk it over with a friend or trusted adult.
-Jessica, age 13, Michigan

Ask a librarian to recommend another series of books similar to the ones you've been reading that are a little less scary. Who knows? You might find a new favorite series.
-Calley, age 12, North Carolina

I often experience anxiety, and many books have kept me up at night, too. If I feel really scared, I skip ahead to the end to make sure that everything turns out all right. It might seem as if knowing the outcome would spoil the book, but it prevents hours of worrying for me. And when I'm less nervous, I can focus on enjoying on the book instead.
-Cat, age 13, Florida

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