This seems like a good time to talk about stress. Last year, I thought to myself how unfair it was that teachers were looking for books to help small children understand lockdown practice while parents were still asking for The Kissing Hand to help those same kids handle being away from their families all day. This year I wonder how much children are noticing news about nuclear tensions or white supremacists.
I’ve shared some resources in the past, but since some of them have been replaced with newer materials I wanted to provide an updated list:
The American Psychological Association provides lots of resources on its website, on topics ranging from school readiness to how to talk to children about the news. If you’re looking for resources in the library, you might try subject headings like stress in children, stress management for children or stress management for teenagers. We also have a lot of books from Free Spirit Publishing, designed to “support young people’s social-emotional health and their educational needs.” You can find books I’ve recommended in the past here.
There is not a lot on contemporary nuclear issues in the children’s collection (you can find somewhat more for teens). The Nuclear Age and the accompanying information in the Freedom Flix database might be helpful. When I was in library school and there was another instance of heightened nuclear tensions in the news, a boy asked me for “books about bombs.” Asking some clarifying questions, I found that he was wondering if the world could really be destroyed by nuclear warfare. Something I sought out for myself at that time was the story “A Midnight Clear” by Katherine Paterson, included in The Big Book for Peace.
This brings me to Comforting Reads for Difficult Times, a recent list of books for children and teens and recommended resources for adults. The books are grouped by themes like Grief and Resilience. If you can’t find an item that you want, just let us know. The resources for adults include many online resources covering how to talk to children about “Difficult News and Tragedies,” the excellent Teaching Tolerance website with classroom resources from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and an online article about using books to discuss tough topics with young children.
They have also released a new edition of Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide which you can access for free online. This includes suggestions for how to respond in the face of hateful incidents, both on the community level (such as how to plan a safer counterdemonstration) and on the personal or family level (how to actively teach anti-bias to children). I previously shared resources on racism and anti-Semitism and extremism. Parents and teachers can find more advice by searching for subjects like Prejudices in Children, Race Awareness in Children, Multicultural Education, Children and Violence and Violence in Children.
I recently attended a conference that addressed some of these topics. As awkward as it can be for adults to talk about race, they emphasized that it is important because kids will come up with their own explanations in the absence of information. They provided a handout with some tips. A child might ask embarrassing questions, but you can help them learn respectful and scientifically accurate language. Some of us might have been taught an ideal of color-blindness, but the current thinking is that children notice differences in appearance and “it makes it weird when you ignore it.”
Another update to a resource I suggested in the past is a new parenting title:
My Brown Baby: On the Joys and Challenges of Raising African American Children by Denene Miller
A New York Times best-selling author and the creator of the critically acclaimed blog My Brown Baby speaks to the experiences, joys, fears, sorrows and triumphs of African-American motherhood, from pregnancy and child-rearing to relationships and the politics of parenting black children.
This is a whole 18 years newer than the last book I was able to share on this topic!
I currently have some books on display in Children’s Services with titles from the “Comforting Reads” list and some related picks. We have a wide variety to offer, and we are ready to help you find what you need.