Of all the daily routines we share with children, perhaps none is as comforting as going to your comfortable reading area and sharing a favorite book. Reading with children is one of the best ways to offer loving reassurance in times of stress. And don't underestimate the power of being physically close: this is one of the most basic ways children can receive comfort.
When you share books with children, you offer them a safe time to express their own fears and worries. As children sit side by side and go on adventures with storybook characters, they know that any scary feelings can be overcome - and that they will be safe.
Books to help children deal with fears and anxieties:
Max's Bedtime by Rosemary Well (Dial Books for Young Readers). Max can't sleep without his elephant. As toys get piled upon his bed, he falls out of bed and finds his favorite stuffed animal.
Peek-a-Boo Bunny by Mary Melcher and Akyssa Saline Capucilli (Cartwheel). Nothing is more soothing than peek- a-boo, lifting the flaps, and adorable bunnies.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (Greenwillow). A heartwarming story of how a mother and child save pennies in a jar to replace a favorite chair.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen (Scholastic, Inc.). This humorous rhyme tells how dinosaurs find every way to delay their bedtime.
The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson (Candlewick). Owlet overcomes his fear after family and friends share with him what they like about the night.
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (North South Books). Rainbow fish discovers how beautiful he is on the outside - and on the inside.
When Sophie Gets Angry - Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang (Scholastic, Inc.). Sophie runs into the woods to get over her anger.
Reliable Resources for Teachers
These books offer useful advice on helping children respond to difficult situations:
Children and Trauma: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Cynthia Monahon (JosseyBass, 1997)
Children Changed by Trauma by Debra Whiting Alexander, PhD (New Harbinger, 1999)
The Scared Child: Helping Kids Overcome Traumatic Events by Barbara A. Brooks and Paula M. Siegel (John Wiley & Sons, 1996)
Talking With Children About Loss: Words, Strategies, and Wisdom to Help Children Cope With Death, Divorce, and Other Difficult Times by Maria Trozzi, Kathy Massimini (Perigee, 1999)
When Nothing Makes Sense: Disaster, Crisis, and Their Effects on Children by Gerald Deskin, PhD, and Greg Steckler (Fairview, 1997)
Working With Traumatized Children: A Handbook for Healing by Kathryn Brohl (Child Welfare League of America, 1996)
This article originally appeared in the November, 2001 issue of Early Childhood Today.