Children Dream about Sleep Monsters and Superheroes

Sleep Monsters and Superheroes: Empowering Children through Creative Dreamplay
Clare R. Johnson and Jean M. Campbell, Editors
ABC-CLIO, LLC 2016, $48.00 paper ISBN-13: 9781440842665,
$47.85 ebook: ISBN-10: 1440842663
Reviewed by Drs. Susanne van Doorn
Edited by Christian Gerike M.A.


children dream
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Children Dream, parents panic

Children dream. In their dreams they are creative, they are scared, they cope with the challenges the world imposes on them. Usually when children wake up crying, in terror, parents panic. With all the information in this book, that will never happen to you again.

Dr. Clare Johnson, author, Lucid Dreaming expert, board member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) and Jean Campbell M.A. author, former IASD president and founder of the online group Worldpeacebridge, got together to create a book about children’s dreams. And magic started to happen.

children dream


Jean Campbell, at the 2016 Psiber Dreaming Conference (a conference about the “psi” element in dreaming), tells how this book came about:

“We talked about how nice it would be to have a book that talked about working with children with their dreams. Clare and I said to each other, “why not see if we can find a publisher for such a book?” And the most amazing thing happened. When we wrote to the acquisitions editor at Praeger, the immediate reply (within five minutes of the request) was “YES!!) Now, I have worked on and off in the publishing industry for years, and I know very well that no publisher does that.”.


Children dream: history of dream books

When I heard about a new children- dream book being written, I thought: it is about time! The first really good book about the dreams of children I ever read was a Dutch translation of Jung’s Kindertraume: Children’s Dreams: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936-1940. In 2012, Kelly Bulkeley and Patricia Bulkley, both contributors to this book, wrote Children’s Dreams: Understanding the Most Memorable Dreams and Nightmares of Childhood. The Jungian approach is still valid after more than seventy years.

The focus of Sleep Monsters and Super Heroes is on dream play: “Led into dreamplay by a supportive adult, children can become “superheroes” in their dreams, and this empowerment carries over into their waking lives” (page 9). Each of the 17 contributors shares a vision. The book is filled with an interesting array of visions from artists, scientists, lucid dreamers, parents, teachers. They all share methods, insights they have acquired, and techniques you can apply.

Sleep Monsters and Super Heroes, Empowering your Children through Creative Dreamplay, is divided into four parts:

  1. Creativity and Healing;
  2. Inner and Outer Worlds;
  3. Extreme Dreams;
  4. Extraordinary Dreams.

    children dream

    Even though I would like to quote every author that contributed to this book, the blog would become too long. I did some cherry picking, even though it was very hard, and only picked one chapter per part.

Creativity and Healing.

Patricia Garfield, in her chapter “Superkid and Other Joyful Dreams: Creative Dreaming with Young Children”says: “Researchers tell us that people who have a sense of accomplishment in life are those who set goals just a little beyond the level they are sure to attain”.

children dreamArt found bright

As parents, we can assist our children in setting realistic goals; we can glimpse these inner goals through the window of our children’s dreams” (page 11). So dreams do not only give parents a glimpse of the soul of their children, but are also a useful tool in setting goals.

Inner and Outer Worlds

In the chapter “The Impact of Digital Technology on Children’s Dreams” Jayne Gackenbach explains how dreams have changed due to our increasing dependence on technology and games. And dreams do not always change for the worse. Young people that game supposedly have more access towards obtaining the ability to engage in lucid dreams. At the 2016 Conference of the IASD, one of the keynote speeches: Playing the Dream by Frank Bosman was about this subject.

children dream


“Gamers are more likely to consider the “nightmare” as fun and perceive it like playing a combat-centric game. Gamers see a drastic change in their threat perception and reaction, and events or experiences that may paralyze others in dreams are instead an empowering challenge to overcome. In other words, heavy gamers experience dream events that bolster their confidence rather than create negative emotions” (page 122).

So gaming isn’t all bad for your children/boyfriend/spouse/fiancee. Negative emotions will probably be handled better, because the gamer is working with it all day and night.

Extreme dreams

In the chapter “Weirdness in the Night: Terrors and Disorders in Children’s Sleep” Ryan Hurd gives more information about parasomnias: sleepwalking, sleep paralysis and sleep terrors.

“Sleepwalking erupts out of deep sleep, when delta waves predominate the sleeping brain in the first half of the night. Sleep walking and other arousal disorders usually surface within an hour or two after the child goes to sleep. The sleepwalker rouses and moves about for a few minutes with open but distant eyes. Children can perform complex behavior as well, although their movements may be clumsy and not well defined. When confronted, a sleepwalker may simply navigate around the obstacle without acknowledgement or respond foggily at best”.

children dream

Any parent who has experienced his child sleepwalking knows it can be a very strange experience to see your child aware, but in another state of being. Ryan not only gives expert advice backed up by research, he is been through all of this himself when he was a child.

Extraordinary Dreams

In the chapter “Dream Magicians: Empower Children through Lucid Dreaming” Clare Johnson reminds us of how common lucid dreams are for children.
“One 2006 study by Qinmei, Qinggong, and Jie shows that most four-to-six-year-olds believe that there may be a way of controlling the action in their dreams, while knowing that this is a dream” (page 289).



children dream
Art cartoon wizard:


“Being a dream magician can be as simple as thinking a clear, guiding thought in a lucid dream, or it can involve more complex actions such as reciting mantras and spells, creating new dream scenes, or using magical props such as an invisibility cloak or a wishing ring” (page 290).


To buy or not to buy, that is the question. Here are some pro’s and cons.


  • This book provides you with a wealth of information and techniques about helping children to dive into the world of dreams.
  • There are contributions from researchers, teachers, and parents.
  • The book is easy to read.
  • Not every author focused on dreamplay, but this could also be added to the con’s of this book.


  • 48 dollars is rather expensive, even though it is value for money: more than 350 pages of information about dreams from different angles.
  • Not every author focused on dreamplay, but this could also be added to the pro’s of this book.

If you want to sleep well and remember more dreams, here is a FREE eBook
for you with ten easy tips to quickly increase your dream memory.

Ready for more free Mindfunda content on ‘Sleep‘?
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