Dealing with the Ups and Downs of Life with Literature
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you will know that I am a huge fan of books which deal with big issues for young people such as grief, serious illness, allergies, adoption, diversity in family life and books such as Sally Murphy’s ‘set’ of three verse novels here, which are suitable from 7-12 years and deal with dementia, childhood cancer and a mother who has had a serious accident – these verse novels are some of the most gorgeous books I’ve read ever (hyperlinks take you to my recommended books on these topics).
Young people need to see their lives reflected in literature – to know they are not alone and to know they are understood. Books which deal with ‘issues’ give children the vocabulary to help them articulate their feelings and the strategies to deal with tough situations. Books which deal with the heavier topics in life help our young people to develop empathy and understanding for others – giving them the opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone else.
One series that I think pulls no punches with dealing with the ‘issues’ that face our young people is, ‘A Big Hug Books’ which now has six titles: ‘A Family is Like a Cake‘; ‘Love is Like a Tree‘; ‘The Internet is Like a Puddle’; ‘The Playground is Like the Jungle’; ‘Life is Like the Wind’ and ‘Friendship is Like a Seesaw’. The language in each of the books is spot on and the stories are engaging and appealing to young children in the early childhood age range and lower levels of primary school. The illustrations by Irisz Agocs are full of movement and light and help to keep the heavy subject matter at an age appropriate level.
Author, Shona Innes, is a clinical and forensic psychologist with a passion for helping children and their parents, carers and teachers. I asked her recently what her one wish for the world would be and she responded with, “I think my biggest wish…would be for children to have a healthy childhood free of abuse or trauma”. See more of my interview here.
I’d love to see this set of well-priced books ($12.50) on the shelves of every home and every library. As a ‘set’ they deal with so many issues pertinent to our young people and also to ourselves. The words soothe, educate and reassure the reader and they can, and should, be read time and time again over many years. More about each book is below.
Cakes are made from many different ingredients to create something unique, delicious and amazing. A family is a lot like a cake. Families come in all shapes and sizes. They are the people who help us feel that we belong. Families give us help, support and love… even when we are apart from them. When we are with our family, we feel like we are home.
Love is a special and growing thing. It’s a little bit like a tree – a special magical tree – that you can climb up into, nest comfortably in its big branches, and safely watch the world go by. Love can come in different shapes and sizes. Like a tree, love can grow and grow..
The Internet is Like a Puddle attends to the wonderful aspects of electronic communication as well as gently discusses some of the possible pitfalls of sharing, chatting and using data. There is a need to be mindful of those who are naive to the potential problems without denying them the wonderful opportunities. The Internet is Like a Puddle describes ways to stay safe and enjoy learning and chatting time on the Internet and to keep life balanced.
The Playground is like the Jungle was written with a view to opening young minds to the rich variety of human personalities that exist in their world. Readers are encouraged to take time to observe the behaviours and moods of others and to make wise and safer choices about play mates. The strategies promoted encourage tolerance and acceptance of interpersonal different and wise choices with respect to interpersonal safety.
Friendship is Like a Seesaw explores the ups and downs that occur in friendships, or indeed, in many other kinds of relationships. This book acknowledges that even the healthiest of friendships can have their tricky moments.
Life is like the Wind focuses on the complexities around death, loss and grief. It acknowledges the range of feelings associated with losing a loved one whether human or non-human. This book aims to help children not to be frightened of their reactions, but to explore their beliefs, acknowledge that others may have different ideas and then work out the ways they want to acknowledge their loss and their feelings.
Today I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT