After disaster or loss, children may find talking about their feelings or exploring their feelings really hard and scary. Books are a safe way for children to explore their own feelings by relating to the characters or situations in the story. Not only are stories a great tool to help understand feelings, but they can also offer hope in times of disaster or loss. We have picked out some of our favorite stories that talk about disasters, difficult times, and hard feelings. Click a category and/or age group below to explore our book lists.
Reading together helps children feel safe, comforted and cared for. Sit close with children next to you or with them on your lap. Have your child hold something that makes them feel comfortable, like a favorite stuffed animal.
It is okay to only read a few pages of a story at a time. If they seem uninterested in reading the story at that time or uncomfortable with the story, put the book to the side until they are ready to come back to it.
Ask open-ended questions related to the story. These are questions where the answers are more than just “yes” and “no.” Some questions you could ask include:
Why do you think they feel that way?
When you feel that way, does it look like theirs or different?
What would you do?
Leave a book in a place where your child can find it and look at it on their own when they want to. It gives them some control and they get to ask questions and explore the story whenever they want.
Keep coming back to stories that mean a lot to your family. Revisiting stories many different times can bring new points of view, new questions and new understanding. If a question comes up that you don’t know the answer to, be honest and say, “I don’t know, but let’s see what we can find out together.”
You can read storybooks with teenagers too! It’s important to approach it by saying you know it’s a story intended for younger children, but you want to hear their opinion on the story. You can invite your teenager to read the book to you like you are a child. Afterwards, ask your teenager their opinion on the story, asking if the story would have been helpful to them when they were younger.