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Elizabeth Kennedy

Comforting Children After the Sandy Hook Tragedy

By December 19, 2012

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Cover of This Place I Know: Poems of ComfortHow do we comfort children who have been traumatized by the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut? As adults we grieve with the families and community that lost so much. We also fear for our own children and worry about how to comfort them and address their concerns.

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.
Related About.com Resources
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)

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