Tragedy, whatever the form, requires a response. When kids see the world at its worst, they turn to their parents for hope and wisdom and understanding, even when the event is not understandable. Books at their best can serve as an aid to these parents, whatever the situation. That said, there’s not a book for every subject in the world. Finding the right book for the right child at the right time can be the hardest thing a children’s librarian ever has to do. So without concentrating on a single tragedy, here are some books that you can place on hold that help with coping with a range of situations.
A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes
A young raccoon sees something bad happen, and he worries about it for a long time until he sees a counselor and talks about his feelings. Readers never learn what exactly the terrible thing is, which makes this book useful in a variety of situations.
Deals with tragedy and post-traumatic stress.
Ida, Always by Caron Levis
Gus is a polar bear in the Central Park Zoo. When his longtime companion Ida begins to get very ill, Gus has to accept her death and learn ways to handle his grief.
Deals with terminal illness.
Sometimes by Rebecca Elliott
Toby’s sister is very sick and has to go to the hospital, so he helps figure out what he can do to help her feel better.
Deals with hospitalization and sibling illness.
Tess’s Tree by Jess Brallier
When a maple tree in Tess’s yard has to be cut down, she gathers her neighbors and family together to celebrate its life.
Deals with death and mourning.
Jack’s Worry by Sam Zuppardi
Stage fright can seem like a minor matter for adults, but it can also be a big deal to children. Jack’s worries about playing the trumpet in his first concert grow until they threaten to overwhelm him.
Deals with anxiety.
Deals with handling negative emotions.
The Purple Balloon by Chris Raschka
Easy-to-read text reveals that dying is hard work, for the old and especially the young, and how good it is that so many people help when a person dies, from medical staff to clergy and friends to family members.
Deals with terminal illness.
Books for Slightly Older Kids
Bird by Zetta Elliott
When a boy’s older brother becomes addicted to drugs, he turns to his art and an understanding uncle to help understand.
Deals with drug use and death of a sibling.
Con Cariño, Amalia / Love, Amalia (Spanish version and English version) by Alma Flor Ada
Amalia spends every Friday afternoon with her grandmother. After she dies, Amalia struggles to stay connected to her and the rest of her family.
Deals with death of a grandparent.
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy
The true story of how the Massai people reacted to hearing about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Deals with terrorism.
Healing the Bruises by Lori Morgan
Julia and her mother go to live in a shelter, to get away from her abusive father and begin life in a few place.
Deals with domestic violence and post-traumatic stress.
When Dinosaurs Die by Laurie Krasny Brown
A nonfiction question-and-answer book about the extinction of the dinosaurs and, by extension, death in general.
Deals with death.
Can you think of other books that have helped you or children you know deal with trauma? Let us know in the comments.