Life in fearful occasions – books for kids
Some recommendations for children's books
from a Libarian primary school
by Erin Wasinger
My friends and I survived teaching our public school children at home for a few days, the first of many thanks to the COVID 19 crisis. In my school library I usually see about 375 elementary school students every week, my idea of a dream job. Judging from our panic at school last Thursday and Friday, today would have been the same: children play, show us what they know about life with fear, and look at adults with few answers.
I would have read the following books. Since I cannot read them to my students, I would like to share them with you. Even if you can't find these books in your now closed library, you can support a local bookseller who will be happy to join you, or browse the rapidly growing collection of adults reading children's books online.
- The latest news, written and illustrated by Sarah Lynne Reul (Roaring Brook Press, 2018). I cannot recommend this book enough, especially when the news is loud. Here's why: When a child gets the latest news, they often look at the faces of their adults to judge how they should react. This book, which begins with a vague reference to “Breaking News,” does a fair job in naming what it looks like when adults project fear or despair (“Dad can't stop checking his phone”); a child tries to cheer up the adults, but "the adults don't feel like laughing"). But the story ranges from the news (never mentioned) to adult responses to children's responses. Yours is what I encourage my listeners to follow. Like many of us, the main character wants to help – "BIG" – but in the end it's tiny flower pots that bring color back to their world. Even my most dull students said "Whoa" when it was last spread.
- The book "Don't worry", written and illustrated by Todd Parr (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019). Yes, this is Todd Parr, whose text looks like it was written in Sharpie on super bright pages. He writes in a simple language that feels almost youthful for reading in primary school. Read it anyway! The fearful brain can be calmed down by its slow pace, sensible advice and compassion.
- What do you think today written by Louise Bladen, illustrated by Angela Perrini (Beaming Books, 2018). We work hard at our school to "think about our thinking" or to become aware of the thoughts in our brain. This is an exercise to do just that, with the focus on taking a breath to name these feelings as we watch the feelings go by.
- On the recommendation of my school psychological friend: If you are concerned that your child's worries have increased beyond normal, try the book by Dawn Huebner: What to do if you worry too much? A guide for children to overcome anxiety (Instructions for children). It was published in 2005 and has been in strong rotation in our house for some time.
Which books do you get off the shelves in this unusual, stressful time? Leave them in the comments below!
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you have young children, the Englewood Christian Church broadcasts Singing time with Mr. Larry, weekdays at 9 a.m.ET on Facebook Live (via our Early Learning Center page). (Today's episode)
It's a lot of fun, a bit like Mr. Rogers for the Coronavirus Age!