Children's Books to Help Kids Deal With Trauma, Grief and Fear

Inside: When the news is traumatic, our hearts are broken and we find ourselves speechless at the events going on outside our front doors, our children feel it too. Here is a selection of books to help you talk with your children about traumatic news when you are at a loss for words.

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I can’t believe I am back here again, writing another post like this.

Twenty-four hours over the weekend, thirty innocent lives lost.

I’m honestly at a loss for words.

I feel numb. Gutted.

I’m terrified about the world my children are growing up in. My big one is at a point that it’s getting harder to shield him from these atrocities. He can read now, and therefore nothing gets past him. I’m dreading the day that he begins to ask me questions, but at only six, I’m trying to shield him as much as I can. No TV on in the house right now, no newspaper or magazines on the kitchen counter.

When the news is traumatic, our hearts are broken and we find ourselves speechless at the events going on outside our front doors, our children feel it too. Here is a selection of books to help you talk with your kids about traumatic news when you are at a loss for words.

I will write more when I find a way to express what I’m feeling, but I felt compelled to get these books out there, in the hopes that they will help other families and educators who need them desperately right now.

If you have additional book recommendations, I urge you to leave a comment, email me, or send me a message on Instagram.

Sending love, strength, and hope for brighter days ahead.

Children's books about Trauma, The Breaking News

The Breaking News, by Sarah Lynne Reul: A child’s community is rattled when devastating news strikes at its core. The news leaves the adults in the neighborhood exhausted, frightened and distracted. At school, the child's teacher tells her class to look for the helpers in times of distress. The girl wants to be a helper. She wants to help her family and her community in as big a way as she can- until she realizes that maybe one small act of kindness is all she needs to do to make a difference. For our full review of The Breaking News click here.

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Come With Me, by Holly McGhee and illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre: Sometimes, the news is flooded with word of terrible current events. It sparks fear, hatred, and uncertainty. One young girl asks her mama and papa what she can do to make the world a little better. Through one step at a time, one kind gesture at a time, one courageous act at a time, the girl’s parents show her that every single tiny, seemingly insignificant act of kindness matters to the world, no matter how small it may seem to start. We love the way this book teaches children to be brave and forever champion kindness, even in the face of extreme darkness.

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A Terrible Thing Happened, by Margaret Holmes, Sasha Mudlaff and Cary Pillo: For the child who witnesses something terrible, whether in real life or on the news, the images may be engrained in his mind for a long time. Sherman sees something bad happen (though we are never told what that is). As to be expected, he gets anxious, then angry and withdrawn. When Sherman finally gets help from a counselor, he is able to talk through his fears and, after that, he begins to heal and get stronger. This book wonderfully represents how a child may interact with a therapist and how other people aside from parents are there to help kids through trauma. Through it all, the book never loses its gentle, comforting tone. A wonderful tool for educators, parents and therapists.

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Good People Everywhere, by Lynea Gillen and illustrated by Kristina Swarner: When the news is tough or a troubling situation occurs in your town, this is a powerful book to remind children that good people truly are everywhere. There are always people helping others during troubled times, there are always people willing to extend a hand, and there are always people who are kind and good. Sometimes, all it takes is a gentle story to remind children of this important message, and this book does just that!

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Most People, by Michael Leannah and Jennifer E. Morris: The world can be big and scary, with some people that don’t make the best choices. But most people smile, and most people laugh… and most people are inherently good. I love the way this multicultural children’s picture book showcases all forms of goodness, from the big tattooed man helping an elderly woman cross the street, to a “goth” looking teenager returning a lost wallet to its owner. This is a gem, and one I love having on my shelves to turn to during tough times.

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Maybe Tomorrow?, by Charlotte Agell and illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez: Elba, a pink hippo, has been dragging around a great big block for a long time, and it greatly limits her potential. Norris, on the other hand, doesn’t drag but instead happily dances wherever he goes, surrounded by a cloud of butterflies. Norris tries to convince Elba to join him on his adventures, but the block often gets in Elba’s way. Norris never gives up though, patiently and compassionately cajoling her to join him, all the while following her lead, being patient with her grief, and helping her manage her block. Little by little, Elba’s block becomes smaller. This is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful books about sadness I have ever read. For our full review of Maybe Tomorrow?, click here!

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When Sadness is at Your Door, by Eva Eland: In this fabulous book, sadness is personified as a visitor, one who must be given a name and a face to make him less mystifying for kids. The beauty of this story is that the child must invite the visitor in, with the author even suggesting activities you can do with sadness, like going for a walk or sitting quietly together. The author doesn’t suggest that you must try to shut the visitor out or force it to go away. To the contrary, she respects sadness and attempts to make this daunting feeling less frightening for kids. This is a unique, fresh approach to the notion of sadness, and I love how the idea of sadness arriving as a visitor reminds children (and even adults too!) that this feeling is not permanent, but temporary instead.

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The Rabbit Listened, by Cori Doerrfeld: Something bad has happened to Taylor: she cannot get over her devastation when a tower she worked so hard to construct crashes to the ground. Her friends try to help. They offer suggestions and unsolicited advice, trying everything in the books to get her to calm down. But only when the rabbit sits and listens -- just listens, quietly and calmly - does she begin to feel better. How I love this one! This is a favorite picture book highlighting the ever important quality of listening and not trying to “fix” things. It’s one I love for the way it reminded me that sometimes, my kids just need to talk and share, and I don’t have to rush in and try to solve all of their fears — i just need to sit with them, give them love, and be there while they express their feelings.

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Children’s Books to Help Kids Handle Trauma, Grief & Fear