I have found that young children who are anxious and confused often find comfort in hearing a favorite picture book again and again. It's important that it be a book they love, one they can lose themselves in. In this way, they are able to get some comfort and relief from their fears for awhile. For children 9 to 12, I recommend This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort, which was originally compiled for the schoolchildren of New York City after 9/11, but which provides comfort for anyone affected by tragedy.
Several book lists have been developed that you may find helpful at home or in the classroom:
- On the Lee & Low Books blog, Katie Cunningham, an Assistant Professor at Manhattanville College, writes about Turning to Story after the Sandy Hook Shooting, with a brief annotated book list and the reminder that "As the process of healing begins, stories can remind us of just how beautiful, powerful, and courageous children are."
- School Library Journal's Book Review staff prepared an annotated booklist Why Did It Happen? Books to Help Kids Cope with Tragedy. The brief list includes cover art, a description and the recommended age range.
Coping with a Tragedy: Talking to Kids About the News (About.com: Pediatrics)
Talking to Kids About Scary News--The Connecticut School Shooting (About.com: School-Age Children)
Speaking to Your Kids About the Unspeakable (About.com: Children with Special Needs)
(Cover art courtesy of Candlewick Press)