Tag Archives: Children

Books for Sad and Scary Times…Redux

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The news provides us with a daily dose of what is wrong and going wrong in the world. And the news is no longer confined to a half-hour at 6 P.M. and 10 P.M.—continuous coverage is on all social media. We all want—and need—to know and understand what is happening here and in other parts of the globe, but the words and images can be disturbing and confusing. Within a few minutes’ time, we may hear of drive-by shootings in Chicago, crazed gunmen, an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, child abuse, and terrorist organizations bent on destruction.

Very young children need to be shielded from the nightmarish images on the news; the older the children, however, the more difficult it is to completely protect them. The trusted adults in their lives will be called upon to help them cope with their feelings and attempt to answer their questions.

Some of you might find your answers in religion and through prayer, and if you can provide comfort in this way, that’s great. But be aware that children are experiencing most of the same feelings that you are, even though they might express and deal with these feelings in different, age-appropriate ways.

I looked for books that might invite children to consider and discuss their reactions to scary and sad events and this is what I found:

Aliki

 

Feelings by Aliki (ages 4 – 8) is good for children who are struggling with identifying and expressing their emotions. Different stories and engaging illustrations accompany each feeling and will, hopefully, spark discussion.

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How Are You Peeling? by Saxton Freymann and Joost Eiffers (ages 4 – 8) offers a creative and whimsical way to explore feelings. Photographs showcase foods with moods; this team has found various fruits and vegetables that each appear to convey an emotion and then attached two black-eyed peas for eyes, the results being surprisingly effective (I considered saying appealing, for my husband’s amusement). You and your grandchild might want to experiment similarly with produce—all mistakes being edible.

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A Terrible Thing Happened—A story for children who have witnessed violence or trauma by Margaret Holmes and Cary Pillo (ages 4 – 10) wisely never shows what the main character—Sherman Smith— witnessed, so it can be applied to any appropriate scenario.Through the story, children will be reassured that it is normal for a whole host of emotions, such as sadness, anger, fear, confusion, frustration, to arise from witnessing violence and trauma. When Sherman opens up to the school counselor, they will also understand that while we often try to hide from such scary feelings, it is best to talk about it with a trusted adult. Pillo’s poignant illustrations complement the telling. An afterword written for parents and other caregivers offers suggestions and lists resources for helping traumatized children.

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Sometimes Bad Things Happen by Ellen Jackson (ages 4 – 8) features bright photographs of sad and bad things happening and children’s facial reactions; the book offers simple coping strategies such as hugging a friend, singing a brave song and planting a flower. As you read together, encourage your grandchildren to acknowledge their feelings and then brainstorm positive ways to respond.

When Bad Things

As for me, I am thinking of rereading the classic When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. Rabbi Kushner wrestles with this issue in a very personal, clear and intelligent manner after his young son is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Actually, this would be a valuable suggestion for teenagers, if they are receptive.

I encourage you—and the children in your life— to unplug occasionally, take some deep breaths and spend at least a little time outside.

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Calling All Young Readers

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The children in our lives enjoy—and benefit from—all the pleasures that summer vacation holds, but we don’t want these precious children to experience a slide in their reading and writing abilities during their long break from school. We can tempt them with books and quizzes and games and wonderful programs at their local libraries. Continue reading

Happy Father’s Day

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My Father ~ Max. M. Michelson

Bruce Feiler, NYT family columnist and the best-selling author of The Secrets of Happy Families, advises us to tell our story:

The most important thing you can do may be the easiest of all. Tell your children the story of their family. Children who know more about their parents, grandparents, and other relatives – both their ups and their downs – have higher self-esteem and greater confidence to confront their own challenges. Researchers have found that knowing more about family history is the single biggest predictor of a child’s emotional well-being.

In that vein, I am expanding upon an earlier post that I wrote about my father:

This past February marked 40 years since my father passed away. At the time of his death, he was a father of three and a grandfather of six. I wish he knew that all these years later, his children and grandchildren (two of whom are grandparents, themselves) would hold vivid and treasured memories of him close to their hearts. Through his words and actions, he set a standard that we tried to emulate in key areas of our lives. Probably that was his hope; he made all the small moments with each of us count.  Continue reading

Good Reads for Camp

file0001799683072Sandwiched in between ordering and attaching name labels, scheduling doctor visits and filling out medical forms, turning the living room into a packing station, buying endless pairs of socks that would be never be allowed back home, and last-minute trips to Target was the joy of scouring the bookstore with my kids in search of good reads. Continue reading

Repairing the World through the Power of Reading

_ICT0756-01As a grandparent, you can be a role model for reading. You can also be a role model for giving. I suggest you combine the two by finding a way for you and your grandchild to help promote literacy on a local or global basis. Children benefit greatly from experiencing the joy associated with giving and from understanding that they can be a force for good in this world. Take inspiration from Tikun Olam, the Jewish concept of repairing the world one good deed at a time. I’ve included a sampling of worthwhile organizations who strive to break the barriers that impede literacy in the United States and beyond. Visit their websites to get details on how you can get involved or donate to their efforts.  Continue reading