It’s called bibliotherapy and it refers to the use of books to help cope with traumatic events. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris as well as ongoing terrorism scares in Brussels and cities across the world, and as scenes and stories continue to appear in the media landscape, parents may turn to books to help their kids make sense of tragedy.
Books can help moderate tension and facilitate a bridge between a touchy topic and kids’ fears and concerns. Parents who are unsure of how to address a subject with children, or who draw blanks in response to kids’ pointed questions, may also find comfort in using a book as a starting place to enter into a difficult conversation. Experts recommend engaging children in age-appropriate discussions and using resources suitable to kids’ levels of understanding. Books are tremendous resources for framing a conversation in terms comfortable for kids.
Here are a few recommendations:
Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace by James Proimos. For kids who are wondering what they can do in the wake of a tragic world event, this story offers suggestions.
On that Day: A Story of Hope for Children by Andrea Patel. Bad things happen, and this book turns that fact into a question of what comes next.
The Survivor Tree: Inspired by a True Story by Cheryl Somers Aubin. A tale of hope and life after tragedy.
The Invisible String by Patricia Karst. A story about how we are all connected brings comfort for kids who may feel anxiety about being separated from families after a traumatic event.
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. Talking about emotions can be challenging, but this book offers a great way to discuss feelings with kids.
Amy Friedman is President and CEO of Book Trust, a national nonprofit literacy organization founded in Fort Collins, Colorado and based in Denver, Colorado. This letter first appeared in the Coloradoan on November 25, 2015.