Sunday, December 16, 2012

Resources For Helping Children Deal With Tragedy

The shootings at Sunny Hook Elementary School has shocked not only the community it served but the country as well. Who hasn't heard the horror stories and shed a few tears over the lost lives of the innocent children and the faculty members who gave their lives in trying to protect them? This act of violence has changed this nation greatly and the consequences of the change are yet to be seen. Whenever a tragedy like this occurs, parents and educators look for answers on how to explain the unexplainable to the children in their lives. The hardest part of finding the answers is looking for the right material that isn't preachy but not too practical that it ignores the emotions and struggles of the reader. There are few books that find that balance and here are a review of some to the titles. As with any book, it is strongly suggested that parent and child read together. Especially when many questions will be raised by the child. When I Feel Scared by Cornelia Maude Speilman touches on the range of emotions children feel when they are insecure. This book is perfect for the younger child in its simplicity and soothing suggestions of what to do to cope with the feelings. It also is a good reminder for children that it is okay to feel scared sometimes. For older children a simple book like Speilman is obviously not going to help them. Nationally known commentators Rabii Mark Gellman and Monsignor Thomas Hartman have written a book which helps children deal with the headlines in our media-centric world in a positive, sensitive, and sometime humorous way. Bad Stuff In The News: A guide to Handling the Headlines deals with the many different story lines such as terrorist attacks, senseless violence as well as other topics that may be unsettling for children. What is also very helpful in this book is the discussion of simple acts of comfort that help in the process of healing. Quite frankly, this should be the go to book for educators, librarians and parents who deal with children on a day to day basis. Eve Bunting has written eloquently on many topics that are sensitive and hard to explain. In The Memory String Bunting tells the story of a little girl who has a string of buttons, each button is a connection to someone she has lost in her family. While the story is one of personal loss its message of dealing with grief and finding hope to carry on is right on target. This story may inspire readers to find their own way to "honor" the memories of the innocent children and heroes that died on December 14 2012. These are just a few books that can help adults help children in tragic situations when answers are not easily found. Each title mentioned here are available at a local library or bookstore. The main important ingredient to helping children deal with loss is a good dose of hugs, reassurance and love. Children can never receive too much love. Also as adults, it is hard to remember that its okay not to have all the answers. If a tough question from a child comes your way, be honest and say "I don't know." Children will appreciate the honesty. At the posting of this blog a complete list of books to help parents, educators and children is being produced. For a complete list of books please contact
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