Life is hard; there’s no way around that fact. It’s even harder when you’re a child, and painful events don’t yet make any sense. Thankfully, many authors have created books to help parents explain difficult concepts and tragic events. Here are a few that you may find useful.
1. When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers
Mister Rogers accompanied many of us through childhood, teaching us to love ourselves the way we are and helping us navigate the journey of growing up. Who better to lead children through the grief and confusion of losing a beloved furry family member? His book helps them validate the love and loss they feel and to cope with the grief and move through the process of mourning. Pet loss is often the first death a child will experience, and Rogers takes them through the experience with great skill and care.
2. Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children by Doris Stickney
The death of a loved one is fraught with confusion for a child; in addition to the sense of loss they feel at the person being gone, they’re left not necessarily understanding where they’ve gone and why they aren’t coming back. Stickney uses the metaphor of the water bug larvae, who live underwater in the pond and eventually become dragon flies and leave, unable to return. She addresses the concept of a loved one disappearing and never being able to return, while making the situation approachable and less painful for a young reader. She’s also created a coloring book version of her story, incorporating active participation and stress relief.
3. Love is a Family by Roma Downey and Justine Gasquet
Touched by an Angel star Roma Downey addresses the issue of single parenthood with the story of Lily, a little girl who feels like her family is strange because she’s only got a mother. Through the course of the book, she learns that the concept of family comes in many forms, and that it’s just fine to be a bit different.
4. Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell
While adoption is a happy event for parents, it can be difficult for children to understand how they are not biologically related to their own parents or to deal with the idea that their biological mother “didn’t want them” (that’s not always the case, but a child may not understand that). Curtis shares a different birth narrative with the child in this book, one where the news comes via phone and not via contractions, leading children to understand just how wanted and precious they are.
5. Two Homes by Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton
With fifty percent of marriages ending in divorce these days, it’s a trauma that many children are likely to face. Masurel teaches children that they are still loved by both of their parents by describing the two different homes that Alex, the protagonist, acquires after his parents divorce. She presents the concept of having two homes as being completely normal, and shows that both places are filled with love.
Children need extra help through difficult life events and tragedies, and these authors have created approachable stories to guide them through. I hope you’ll find them useful should you ever need them.
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