Helping Children Cope with Tragic Events

“We’re going over in a safe area,” she told the 5-year-olds. Then, she opened a book and started to read.”  ~Kindergarten Teacher, Sandy Hook Elementary School

This is what we have to offer you today in the aftermath of the inexplicable. Come. Open a book. Start to read. Hold them close and revisit old friends together; Curious George, The Cat in the Hat, Arthur, The Little Engine That Could.

Or stay at home and do the same. Find the books in the bookcase with the dog-eared pages and the tell-tale bite marks on the spine; the ones you can probably recite without looking at the pages. Choose the one with the coffee ring on the cover for having been on the bedside table every night.

Favorite stories are steadfast old friends to count on in times of trouble.

It is clear from the resources we have gathered below that one of the best things we can all do is simply reassure children that many people – their family, their teachers, their neighbors, the people at day care or church or the library love and care about them and are looking out for their safety.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered. 
”Yes, Piglet?” 
”Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Professional Advice about Helping Children Cope with Violence and Tragic Events:

Dad and Children Reading Photo While favorite stories are comforting and familiar, you may find that it would be helpful to read a book together that helps your child understand feeling afraid or anxious; or answers questions he or she might have about death. Below are several children’s books that address separation anxiety, fear and grief. These are just a small sampling to show you the kinds of books that are available. Also listed are some parenting books about helping a child cope with anxiety. Click on any book jacket to go directly to the online catalog to make a request with your IndyPL Library Card, or visit any of our branch locations. IndyPL librarians would be happy to help you find books like these. NOTE: The first two titles, Owl Babies and The Kissing Hand, you can watch right now online – no waiting. Both are about learning to cope with separation anxiety.

Video Storytime:

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Watch Right Now: Owl Babies – Three baby owls panic when they awaken one night and find their mother gone, worrying about what has happened to her and becoming frightened by all the scary things that surround them in the dark. Print, Downloadable eBook, en español
KissingHand
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Watch Right Now: The Kissing Hand – When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him. Print, Downloadable eBook, en español

Books:

Chapter Books for Older Readers

Invisible String The Invisible String – When Liza and Jeremy run to their mother during a scary storm, she comforts them by telling them about the Invisible String, which connects people who love each other no matter where they are and means that they are never alone. Print
Boats for Papa Boats for Papa – Buckley and his mother cope with the loss of their father/husband by sending small wooden boats, built by Buckley, off into the ocean. Print
Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories – After his mother explains why his classmate is not returning to school, she teaches Chester Raccoon how to make a memory. Print, Downloadable eBook
City Dog Country Frog City Dog, Country Frog – In spring, when City Dog runs free in the country for the first time, he spots Country Frog sitting on a rock, waiting for a friend. “You’ll do,” Frog says, and together they play Country Frog games. In summer, they meet again and play City Dog games. Through the seasons, whenever City Dog visits the country he runs straight for Country Frog’s rock. In winter, things change for City Dog and Country Frog. Come spring, friendship blooms again, a little different this time. Print
The Giving Tree The Giving Tree – A young boy grows to manhood and old age experiencing the love and generosity of a tree which gives to him without thought of return. Print, Downloadable eBook
Grandpa Green Grandpa Green – A child explores the ordinary life of his extraordinary great-grandfather, as expressed in his topiary garden. Explores aging, memory, and the bonds of family history and love. Print
Grandpas Soup Grandpa’s Soup – After the death of his wife, an old man gradually realizes that making the soup she used to cook and sharing it with friends eases his loneliness. Print
Healing Days Healing Days – A guide for kids who have experienced trauma. Print
The Hugging Tree The Hugging Tree – Told in rhyming text, a little tree clings tenaciously to a granite cliff, determined to live, tended by a little boy, and ultimately loved by the people in the community. Print
I Miss You I Miss You – Explores the difficult issue of death for young children. Feelings and questions about this sensitive subject are looked at in a simple but realistic way. Written by a psychotherapist and counselor this book helps children to understand their loss and to come to terms with their feelings. Print, Downloadable eBook
Jenny is Scared Jenny is Scared – When Jenny and her brother are frightened by events in the world, their parents help them talk about their fears and feel better. Print
The Kiss Box The Kiss Box
– As they prepare for a short separation, Mama Bear and Little Bear find a way to reassure each other while they are apart. Print
Love Hugs & Hope Love, Hugs & Hope – Helps children identify feelings that overwhelm them with anxiety and despair. Explains that sometimes bad things happen and good people are hurt. Children feel fear, sadness, and anger. The book teaches that there are ways of dealing with these emotions and helps children reaffirm fundamental truths about the world. Print
Love Waves Love Waves – While they are at work a mother and father send powerful “love waves” to their child at home, offering reassurance and comfort in their absence. Print
Mommy In My Pocket Mommy in My Pocket – A little girl gets anxious about separation from her mommy when she goes to school. Print
Nana Upstairs Nana Downstairs Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs – Four-year-old Tommy enjoys his relationship with both his grandmother and great-grandmother, but eventually learns to face their inevitable death. Print
On That Day On That Day: a Book of Hope for Children – This book tells children that although terrible things happen, there is still hope that the world can be a better place. Print
Remembering Crystal Remembering Crystal – Zelda is a young duck that lives in the garden. Her friend Crystal is a turtle who is growing old. The two do many things together. One day Crystal is not in the garden. But friendship never dies. Print
Remembering Mrs Rossi Remembering Mrs. Rossi – Although she loves her father, their home in New York City, and third-grade teacher Miss Meadows, Annie misses her mother who died recently. Print, Downloadable eBook
The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm – When little Mica is frightened by a storm, her father tells her the story of a rhino who was feeling lost and alone, until he learns that with the love of family and friends, there will always be help during tough times. Downloadable eBook
Sad Isn't Bad Sad Isn’t Bad – a good grief guidebook for kids dealing with loss. Downloadable eBook
Snowflakes Fall Snowflakes Fall – In this illustrated poem in honor of the victims of the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, falling snowflakes celebrate the uniqueness of life, its precious, simple moments, and the strength of memory. Print, Downloadable eBook
Some Bunny To Talk To Some Bunny To Talk To – When Little Bunny’s problem makes him feel sad and fearful, he goes to a therapist for help. Print
Tear Soup Tear Soup – A modern-day fable, told in a richly illustrated children’s book format, about a woman who has suffered a terrible loss. Grandy has just suffered a big loss in her life, so she is cooking up a batch of “tear soup,” in which the ingredients are parts of the grieving process, including memories, misgivings, feelings, and tears. Print
A Terrible Thing That Happened A Terrible Thing Happened – After Sherman sees something terrible happen, he becomes anxious and then angry, but when a counselor helps him talk about these emotions he feels better. Print
Tough Boris Tough Boris – Although he is a very tough pirate, Boris von der Borch cries when his parrot dies. Print
What to do When You're Scared & Worried What To Do When You’re Scared and Worried – Why do we have worries and fears? — Fears after something bad has happened — Fears of people, animals, and situations — Worries about being away from your parents : separation anxiety — Thoughts and behaviors you can’t stop — Worrying all the time — Panic, feeling you are going crazy or about to die — How to control your worries and fears — When fears and worries will not go away — For parents : helping your children cope with worries and fears. Print, Downloadable eBook
When Bad Things Happen When Bad Things Happen: A Guide to Help Kids Cope – Truly bad things happen in life. And while we cannot shelter children from every hurt and harm, we can reassure them that they will always be loved and cared for. We can teach children the skills needed for coping with life’s biggest challenges and changes. And we can restore children’s trust that life, after all, is good. Downloadable eBook
When Dinosaurs Die When Dinosaurs Die – Explains in simple language the feelings people may have regarding the death of a loved one and the ways to honor the memory of someone who has died. Print
Where is Grandpa Where is Grandpa? – As his family reminisces after his beloved grandfather’s death, a boy realizes that his grandfather is still with him in all the special places they shared. Print

For Adults:

Freeing Your Child From Anxiety Freeing Your Child From Anxiety – Written by an expert in the field of childhood anxiety disorders, this indispensable guide is for parents looking for safe, proven methods for reducing childhood anxiety. Dr. Chansky shows them how to teach their child to successfully deal with stress and face the challenges and uncertainties of life. This resource is a CD but is also available as a PrintDownloadable eBook
Growing Up Brave Growing Up Brave – The author, a childhood anxiety expert, helps parents identify and understand anxiety in their children, outlines effective and convenient parenting techniques for reducing anxiety, and shows parents how to promote bravery for long-term confidence. Print

More FREE Online Reading:

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