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Books to Help Children Heal

In the wake of September 11 and other tragedies both big and small, it's sometimes difficult to know what to say to children. Here are some books -- about cultural acceptance, emotions, and difficult times others have faced -- that can help you begin conversations that heal. Please preview these books to decide whether or not they are appropriate for the children in your life.

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

Life Doesn't Frighten Me

By: Maya Angelou, Jean Michel Basquiat
Illustrated by: Jean Michel Basquiat
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Renowned poet Maya Angelou's text urges us to face what frightens us, whether it is real or imaginary. Jean Michel Basquiat's full-color paintings capture just how challenging it is to be brave.

Mrs. Katz and Tush

By: Patricia Polacco
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In this special Passover story, Larnel Moore, a young African-American boy, and Mrs. Katz, an elderly Jewish woman, develop an unusual friendship through their mutual concern for an abandoned cat named Tush. Together they explore the common themes of suffering and triumph in each of their cultures.

My Many Colored Days

By: Dr. Seuss, Steve Johnson
Illustrated by: Steve Johnson
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The late Dr. Seuss wrote the text for this wonderful book about feelings and moods back in 1973, but didn't want to illustrate it himself. Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher provided the paintings that not only enhance the text but take readers on a captivating journey of their own. This book will delight children of all ages, and is a terrific tool for encouraging discussions of emotions.

One April Morning

By: Nancy Lamb, Floyd Cooper
Illustrated by: Floyd Cooper
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Written by the children in Oklahoma City, this book captures the fear, sadness, and confusion they experienced as they heard about the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building, and the strategies they used to begin the healing process.

Sad Isn't Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing With Loss

By: Michaelene Mundy, R.W. Alley
Illustrated by: R.W. Alley
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Loaded with positive, life-affirming advice for coping with loss as a child, this guide tells children what they need to know after a loss--that the world is still safe; life is good; and hurting hearts do mend. Written by a school counselor, this book helps comfort children facing of the worst and hardest kind of reality.

Smoky Night

By: Eve Bunting, David Diaz
Illustrated by: David Diaz, Eve Bunting
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In this Caldecott Medal book, a boy and his mother come to know a Korean neighbor when their cats escape during the Los Angeles riots. Boldly colored paintings and textured collage illustrations help distance readers while evoking the tension of the time.

Some Things Are Scary

By: Florence Heide, Jules Feiffer
Illustrated by: Jules Feiffer, Florence Heide
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Feiffer's distorted perspectives on the things that "loom large" capture a range of human emotion with his usual deftness. Kids will commiserate with the saucer-eyed boy as he skates out of control, is afraid he won't be picked for either team, or gets stuck high in a tree. And maybe things won't be so scary next time.

The Wall

By: Eve Bunting, Ronald Himler
Illustrated by: Ronald Himler, Eve Bunting
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A boy describes the trip he takes with his father to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Together, they look for the name of his grandfather, who died before he was born.

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Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
July 10, 2014
June 24, 2014
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