Helping Children to Cope with Trauma (Post I of II)

We all know, no matter how much we would like to at times, that we cannot keep our children permanently wrapped in a bubble of innocence. Part of experiencing life, part of the Human Condition, is learning to handle all that comes with living: the good, the bad, and in the case of the Sandy Hook School shooting last week–the absolutely and terrifyingly ugly.

As with oft-censored books, we recognize the discretion of parents and caregivers to help decide which materials and information may be right for children and at what ages, but an event such as that of last Friday is one against which children are not easily shielded in the modern world.

As a result, many youth may have questions about why, or how, or who or what. These are not easily explainable, but we have gathered together a few booklists that may offer some support for those who wish to discuss the impact of traumatic events–both immediate and lasting–with children. Today we’ll focus on books meant to be read to and with children, and next week in this space, we’ll discuss books geared towards adults.You may also view a previous post on books for grieving children by clicking here.

Some of these books may raise more questions than answers, and none of them are a panacea, but we hope the discussions that come from them are helpful in trying to come to grips with the seemingly unexplainable–whether it the tragedy of Sandy Hook School, or another, perhaps equally devastating event in your life or the life of a loved one.

A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret H Holmes with illustrations by Cary Pillo


After a young boy witnesses something awful, he tries a number of ways to handle it–but finally finds relief when he opens up to an adult whom he trusts.

When Sophie gets Angry–Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang


A basic story for discussions on emotion-control, Molly Bang reminds young readers–and the adults with them–that it is okay to get angry from time to time. The important thing to learn from the book, is how to direct that anger through a safe outlet.

When Dinosaurs Die by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown


More for dealing with grief than trauma, the Browns still provide a good basic primer for feelings children may experience after a loss.

On That Day by Andrea Patel


Originally written in response to the September 11th Terrorist Attack, this book provides excellent, simply written words about the problem of evil as we know it in the modern world.

Smoky Night by Eve Bunting; illustrations by David Diaz

Smoky Night

Smoky Night is the story of a boy and his mother who seek a safe place during a night of rioting and chaos as the boy tries to make sense of the seemingly senseless world around him.

Why Did it Happen? by Janice Cohn; illustrations by Gail Owens


A young boy comes learns that not everything is perfect when the store he frequents is attacked and the shopkeeper injured. In time, he learns valuable lessons about safety from his family. Also included is a forward for adults.

When Something Terrible Happens by Marge Heegaard


With enough generalities to broadly cover a variety of trauma experiences and situations, this book can be agood starting place for families ready to explore the consequences of grief.

Is a Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz with illustrations by Marie LeTourneau


Children can be very susceptible to anxiety, and this book helps examine what may worry you, why? and what you may be able to do about it.

When My Worries Get to Big by Kari Dunn Buron


This is book serves as an introduction to relaxation exercises for children who may need help calming down due to anxiety or over-stress, and provides tips for how they can work to stay in control of their emotions.

September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be Alright Written and illustrated by first grade students at H Byron Masterson Elementary in Kennett, Missouri


Another book written after the September 11th Attack, this one reminds the reader that despite tragedy, the world will continue to turn, and life will be–although very different from before–normal.


One thought on “Helping Children to Cope with Trauma (Post I of II)

  1. Pingback: Helping Children to Cope with Trauma (Post II of II) « St Louis Public Library Parents

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