I'm Not Afraid

story by Kathryn England , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Creates a role-play where students pretend not to be scared but their actions reveal their true feelings.

Display a photo of a spider and role-play acting as if you are afraid of spiders while saying you are not. For example, keep glancing back at the photo while biting your nails and slowly edging away saying, “No, no, I’m not scared of spiders at all.”

Discuss inferences students make about your role-play, ensuring they conclude that while you were saying that you are not afraid of spiders it is clear that you are. Discuss potential reasons why you may have done this. Sample answers include: because you were embarrassed to be afraid of spiders or that you didn’t want to admit to fear to yourself.

Tell students that often characters act in a way that reveals more about them than the words they say. Inform students that looking for the ‘hidden’ meaning behind what characters say is called ‘subtext’. Display the article Subtext Facts for Kids on Kiddle for more information on subtext.

Read the text. Discuss things the character, Tom, says he is not afraid of. Draw students attention to lines such as:

I’m not afraid of the dark. No way. Not me. Ghostly ghouls, spooky spirits and menacing monsters don’t bother me.

Zombies? Am I afraid of zombies? You’ve got to be kidding.

I saw a vampire the other night. I was giving Rex his dinner on the back porch. Was I scared? Not even a little bit.

Discuss Tom’s actions, emphasising how they differ from what he says. Draw students’ attention to lines such as:

So on nights when there’s a full moon, I stay inside. Simple as that. Not that I’m scared, mind you. Anyway, I’m not allowed out after dark.

I could go and have a look tonight. If I saw one, I would just push him right back into his grave and bury him before he could climb out again. No problem. But like I said, I’m not allowed out after dark.

Emphasise how Tom uses the excuse of not being allowed out at night to explain why he doesn’t confront zombies and vampires.

Remind students of the role-play reacting to a spider from earlier. Collaboratively compose sentences to describe what was acted in the role-play. Tell students you’ll be including actions and behaviours that reveal the subtext behind what is said. A sample answer is provided below:

I’m not afraid of spiders, no way. If I see one or even a photo of one I wouldn’t want to stand next to it. I might even back away a little. But that’s just because I don’t like being too close to photos. And did I mention that I bite my nails? Sometimes it happens when I see spiders but that doesn’t mean I’m scared.

Discuss students’ fears. Instruct them to compose a brief role-play where their actions differ from what they say. Tell students to take turns role-playing each other’s fears. Display a list of fears students may like to use if they prefer not to share something personal. For example:




Once students have role-played each other’s fears instruct them to write a brief paragraph outlining what is explicitly said and actions and behaviour that reveals subtext from their role-play.