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7 Children's Books That Explain Tragedies, News, and Other Difficult Topics

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As much as we try to protect our children and create a positive world for them to grow up in, the reality is that our children are constantly bombarded with devastating news topics filled with tragedy and loss. In fact, an average of 12 children die each day because of gun violence. Add to that the number of deadly storms and other types of tragedies that happen on a daily basis around the world, and it’s easy to see why so many children live with anxiety and fear.

Unfortunately, parents can’t do a lot to prevent these events from happening, nor can they keep their children away from the news forever. However, parents can use books (like these seven suggested ones) to help children deal with the news and other difficult topics.

1. “What to Do When the News Scares You” by Jacqueline B. Toner

As part of the best-selling What To Do series, “What to Do When the News Scares You: A Kid’s Guide to Understanding Current Events” helps children put the jarring information they may see or hear from various news sources into a perspective that can help avoid panic. The book offers explanations behind triggering news stories and suggested coping skills children can use when news alarms them in some way.

2. “Something Bad Happened” by Dawn Huebner

“Something Bad Happened: A Kid’s Guide to Coping With Events in the News” is a great guide for children ages 6 to 12 and the adults in their lives who want to help them make sense of large-scale disasters they see or hear about through the news. The text addresses questions regarding why these events happened, where they occurred, and whether or not they will happen again. The text also normalizes common emotions for news events, like sadness, fear, and confusion, which can really help older children who are still learning about their feelings and how to manage them.

3. “A Terrible Thing Happened” by Margaret Holmes

Sometimes fictional texts can be just as beneficial to children as nonfiction ones, especially when it comes to dealing with difficult topics. In  “A Terrible Thing Happened,” Sherman Smith deals with many of the common issues children face when something difficult happens, and learns that talking about your feelings can be a powerful tool. Although the book never divulges what “terrible thing” happened to Sherman, it does offer relatable moments for kids and explores all of the avenues children may try to cope with their emotions.

4. “When the World Feels Like a Scary Place” by Abigail Gewirtz, Ph.D.

When children try to make sense of difficult topics, it is often up to parents to find the right things to say. But what happens when a parent isn’t sure how to handle an unimaginable situation like many of the recent events in the news? That’s where “When the World Feels Like a Scary Place: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids” comes in. It’s a text filled with conversation scripts to help parents have difficult conversations with kids about modern events. For each topic, you receive actual dialogue, talking points, prompts, and insightful asides that can help you talk to your child about these issues in an age-appropriate way.

5. Bright Littles “Safety Convo Journal”

If you’re looking for something a bit more interactive for your whole family, the “Safety Convo Journal” by Bright Littles may be what you need for these difficult conversations. This book is not just a text to read, but an interactive activity journal designed to help your family have open discussions about certain topics so you can create safety plans and help your children know what to do. The book covers many common topics families would need safety plans for, but it also includes a section on gun violence, which sadly is something we all seem to need these days.

6. “The Breaking News” by Sarah Lynne Reul

“The Breaking News” is yet another excellent text that specifically covers what families can do with disturbing information they receive through news sources. However, unlike some of the other texts on this list, it doesn’t just focus on dealing with fear and other painful emotions. Instead, the text covers topics like resilience, community, and optimism as a way of showing children that positive change can come from the most difficult times.

7. “Catching Thoughts” by Bonnie Clark

Sometimes it isn’t just the news that children need help dealing with, but also their racing thoughts that appear in the aftermath of tragedy. Luckily, this story teaches kids exactly how to acknowledge the uncomfortable thoughts they have after hearing certain types of news, then teaches them how to replace those unwanted thoughts with more positive ones instead. It’s a great way to teach children the basics of thought reframing in a way that makes sense to their little minds. This can help ease anxiety and provide comfort for children who are wrestling with difficult emotions day in and day out.

Books are a great way to help kids understand complex topics in a way that’s relatable and digestible. These seven books may not have all the answers, but they can certainly help your family learn how to cope with painful moments in a healthy way.

Getty image by 10000 hours.

Originally published: June 20, 2022
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