Using Books to Break the Ice

Use books to talk to your kids about tough issues.
By Allison McDonald



Using Books to Break the Ice

Yesterday’s events in Boston reminded me just how hard my own children’s questions can be. Being a parent is hard, and every parent needs tools and tricks to help get through the little bumps or the big unthinkable events that take over the media for weeks.  Picture books are one of my favorite parenting tools. No matter what is going on with my kids, books are one of our first ways to prepare and comfort.

Children crave security, and reading books about the issues they are facing gives them a place to test out what they feel about it, shows how the characters dealt with the same issue, and opens up a safe place to talk to their parents about it.

Many kids clam up when asked to share their feelings. Using books as a vehicle to talk about the issue, without making it too personal, is a great choice for kids afraid to open up.

When you read books like this to your child, find a quiet time with no distractions. You may simply read the book and not talk afterward, but you may also end up in a lengthy discussion about the issues your family is facing. Make sure you have the time to spend talking through and answering any questions your child may have after reading it.

Here are some of my favorite books for different issues you may find useful.  


Winter’s Tail by Juliana Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff

Owen  & Mzee by Craig Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Witnessing Trauma/Disasters

A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes


Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell


I Remember Miss Perry by Pat Brisson

Jim’s Dog Muffins by Miriam Cohen

Anger Issues

Edwardo the Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World by John Burningham

Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Friendship Troubles

Pink Tiara Cookies For Three by Maria Dismondy

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein


Goodbye House by Frank Asch

A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn

New Baby

Baby on the Way by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly

Separation Anxiety

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Mama Always Comes Home by Karma Wilson

Have you used picture books as an icebreaker for a tough issue? Swing by Scholastic Parent’s Facebook page or tweet Allison McDonald @noflashcards and tell us how it helped your family.

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