“It seems as though we are becoming a nation of mourners and victims,” Sally Driscoll wrote in Book Links several years ago. “Few communities have not experienced senseless crimes.”
Last week’s tragedy at Virginia Tech has focused the world’s attention on the victims, as well as we relatives, friends, neighbors and coworkers who mourn their loss. Another group impacted by the violence is kids, who can be overwhelmed by nonstop news and the constant conversations of family and friends.
Overwhelmed children don’t always know how to process their feelings. One way parents can help is through bibliotherapy -- reading stories to your kids about difficult events, discussing the characters’ reactions to them, and then helping your kids apply the lessons from the fictional trauma to real life.
"Reading puts words on experiences," psychiatry professor Melanie Katzman explains in a Scholastic article. "It gives kids … ways of thinking about feelings or problems that seem daunting."
Professor Tom McIntyre describes bibliotherapy as a way to “assist a youngster in overcoming the emotional turmoil related to a real-life problem by having him/her read literature on that topic.”
Experts agree that just having parents read them a story can help children feel calmer and more secure. Check out:
The Book of Mean People by Toni Morrison. (Recommended for age 4-8.)
Why? by Nikolai Popov. (Age 5-8)
Grandmother Bryant’s Pocket by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. (Age 5-9)
A Little Bit of Rob by Barbara J. Turner. (Age 6-8)
Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox. (Age 6-9)
One-Eyed Cat by Paula Fox. (Age 9-12)
Part of Me Died, Too by Virginia Lynn Fry. (Age 10 and up)
Wringer by Jerry Spinelli. (Grade 4-8)
Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes. (Grade 5-8)
Scary News by Lorna Ann Knox.