Big Topics for the Little Ones

There are lots of big and scary things happening in the world right now.  The school shooting in Uvalde, the invasion of Ukraine, systemic violence against people of color, the ongoing toll of the pandemic: these are hard things to deal with as an adult, let alone explain to a child.

When faced with painful news, it can be tempting to shelter children—to protect them from a hurtful world, and maybe to protect ourselves from difficult conversations.  But the fact is that kids encounter many hurtful and scary stories, whether or not we want to share them.  And more often then not, they need support to process their grief, worry, or anger.

According to the Child Mind Institute, you can help children deal with frightening news by:

• Having calm conversations about the scary news
• Letting children lead the conversation by encouraging curiosity and answering questions honestly, even if the answer is "I don't know"
• Helping children express their emotions through art, stories, or play

• Processing your grief together by taking positive action: memorialize those who have died, get involved in local initiatives, and help others

 

A few more resources about talking to children about difficult topics:

How to talk to your kids about school shootings (Washington Post) by Amy Joyce

What to say to kids about school shootings to ease their stress (NPR) by Allison Aubrey

Talking to Kids About Racism and Violence by the Child Mind Institute

Resilience guide for parents and teachers by the American Psychological Association

 

If you're looking for a way to open conversations about big emotions and scary experiences, one way to open the door is with literature.  Below, you can find some literary resources for young readers, selected by Rachel, the director of our children's department.

To be clear: we are not asking you to buy these books from us.  They're accessible on our webstore for those who want to own a copy, but there are so many ways to read and share stories: borrow from the library, swap with friends, or listen to audiobooks.  Plus, books aren't for everyone.  This isn't a one-size-fits-all way to start difficult conversations.

But if your young one enjoys reading and stories, treat this list as another resource to help young children explore and express their feelings and open conversations about mental health in a big, scary world.


 

Kids' Books about Mental Health:
 

Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness Cover Image
By Maria Gianferrari, Pete Oswald (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063067912
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins - April 5th, 2022

Being Edie Is Hard Today Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316521741
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - May 7th, 2019

A Blue Kind of Day Cover Image
By Rachel Tomlinson, Tori-Jay Mordey (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780593324011
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Kokila - April 5th, 2022

Brave Every Day Cover Image
By Trudy Ludwig, Patrice Barton (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9780593306376
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - June 28th, 2022

Hattie Harmony: Worry Detective Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780593351444
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - June 28th, 2022

Jenny Mei Is Sad Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316537711
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - June 15th, 2021

Me and White Supremacy: Young Readers' Edition Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781728259086
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sourcebooks Explore - February 1st, 2022

Mindfulness Moments for Kids: Hot Cocoa Calm Cover Image
By Kira Willey, Anni Betts (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780593119877
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Rodale Kids - December 7th, 2021

Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race (First Conversations) Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780593519394
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Rise x Penguin Workshop - May 25th, 2021

Puppy in My Head: A Book About Mindfulness Cover Image
By Elise Gravel, Elise Gravel (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780063037670
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins - January 5th, 2021

The Rabbit Listened Cover Image
By Cori Doerrfeld, Cori Doerrfeld (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780735229358
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Dial Books - February 20th, 2018

The Rough Patch Cover Image
By Brian Lies, Brian Lies (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062671271
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Greenwillow Books - August 14th, 2018

Ruby Finds a Worry (Big Bright Feelings) Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781547602377
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Bloomsbury Children's Books - September 3rd, 2019

Small Knight and the Anxiety Monster Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250618795
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Feiwel & Friends - September 7th, 2021

Small Things Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781772781410
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pajama Press - November 17th, 2020

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781433828546
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Magination Press - March 1st, 2018

When Sadness is at Your Door Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780525707189
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - January 29th, 2019

Why?: A Conversation about Race Cover Image
By Taye Diggs, Shane W. Evans (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250806093
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Feiwel & Friends - February 1st, 2022

Why Do I Feel So Worried?: A Kid's Guide to Coping with Big Emotions—Follow the Arrows from Anxiety to Calm Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781615198733
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: The Experiment - March 22nd, 2022