As a violent and frightening news story unfolds in Boston, many parents struggle to explain this difficult time to their children. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has this advice for families:
Media coverage can produce increased fears and anxiety in children. The more time children spend watching coverage of the tragic events, the more likely they are to have negative reactions. Graphic images and news stories of chaos, injury, and death is especially upsetting to children. Very young children may not understand that the coverage and repetition of images of the events is a replay. They may think the event is continuing to happen or is happening again.
We have built a list of books and resources to help parents and caregivers discuss these traumatic events with children, grade schoolers and young adults.
Free Resources for Parents from the National Child Traumatic Network
Below, we’ve linked to WorldCat records for each book, so you can find a copy at a library near you. Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments section. The Child Witness to Violence Project has a more complete bibliography, exploring all the emotions kids face while coping with such terrible violence.
Books for Children
A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M Holmes: “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.” (recommended for pre-school through early grade school)
Why did it happen? Helping young children cope with the experience of violence by Janice Cohn: “With the help of his parents and teacher, a young boy deals with his feelings about the robbery of the neighborhood grocery store. Includes a note to parents.” (recommended for preschool-early elementary)
Lets talk about living in a world with violence: An activity book for school age children by James Garbarino (recommended for elementary school)
I Hate Superman by Louise Simonson (recommended for older preschool-elementary school): “Being a kid is awfully tough sometimes, but having someone to look up to can help. James is extra lucky because he has two heroes, his brother and Superman! But what happens when your heroes do the unthinkable? James must find the strength to confront his disappointment when the people he counts on let him down.”
Tuff stuff : a children’s book about trauma by Joy Wilt Berry & Ernie Hergenroeder: “Examines in simple text and illustrations a variety of situations that cause varying degrees of emotional or physical trauma and how to deal with each.”