Astoundingly, here we are again—heartbroken and furious over yet another school shooting. How do we explain this craziness that keeps happening over and over again? It’s maddening that our children even have to deal with these types of tragedies.
Yet despite our bewilderment, school shootings are a tragic reality and the repercussions for children are significant—fear, anxiety, and trauma. Our children need our help to navigate these events. We’ve rounded up a dozen picture books written by very talented writers to help you address children’s fears and concerns in a comforting, age-appropriate way.
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
When sad things happen Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. His animal friends offer solutions, but none of them is quite right. Then rabbit arrives and gives Taylor just what he needs. This sweet book offers sage advice about how to comfort and heal the people in your life by being a loving, gentle, listening presence.
A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes
Little Sherman witnessed something terrible. He tries to forget about it but he feels nervous and can’t sleep. Finally, he finds someone he can talk to and bit by bit begins to feel better.
When I Feel Scared by Cornelia Maude Spelman
Kids deal with scary feelings in different ways. Developed in close consultation with expert child psychotherapist Dr. Sharie Coombes, this simple story helps kids recognize, understand and talk about their feelings.
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat
Whatever happened after Humpty Dumpty had his great fall? Did he just lay there in a scramble? Or did he summon the courage to face his fears? This story carries the powerful message that sometimes life begins when you get back up.
Jenny is Scared: When Sad Things Happen in the World by Carol Shuman
Jenny and her brother Sam know that something serious is going on. Their mom and dad are preoccupied with the TV news and it just doesn’t feel like a regular day. They want to know what’s going on and how not to be so scared, but they need Mom and Dad’s help.
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. It’s way too dangerous out there! He could encounter tarantulas, green Martians or killer bees. But one day, Scaredy Squirrel leaves his tree and leaps into the unknown. And in doing so, he discovers something about himself and the world.
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Life can be scary in the big blue sea! A beloved classic, Swimmy has helped generations of kids learn how to be brave and use ingenuity and teamwork to overcome danger.
Brave As Can Be: A Book of Courage by Jo Witek
Big sister helps little sister deal with her fears by sharing all the things she used to be afraid of and the tricks she used to help. She also shares that with time scary feelings fade away.
Once I Was Very Very Scared by Chandra Ghosh Ippen
Even though we all have scary experiences, we may not all react in the same way. In this sweet story, squirrel and his animal friends share their experiences and how they learned to cope with help from grown-ups who helped them feel safe.
Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee and Pascal Lemaître
A young girl asks her father what she can do to make the sometimes scary world a better place. What she learns is that small and seemingly insignificant actions can make a big difference in the world. An amazing story about the power of kindness, bravery, and friendship in the face of uncertainty.
Something Happened in Our Park by Ann Hazzard
When Miles’s cousin Keisha is injured in a shooting, he needs help from friends and family. Eventually he learns to use his imagination and creativity to help him cope with his fears.
A Kid’s Book About School Shootings by Crystal Woodman Miller
Written by a Columbine High School shooting survivor, this book “helps kids and adults understand school shootings and encourages us to be prepared while reminding us that we should never let the fear of the what-ifs take over our lives.”
Also, How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings
Age-appropriate, helpful strategies to educate kids and relieve their anxiety about this scary, sad topic from Scholastic.
Advice came from Kyle D. Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine from the Washington Post.
Advice for taking an age-based approach to discussing news of school shootings with kids from Common Sense Media.
Strategies for dealing with anxiety—your kids’ and your own from ChildMind.
Tips about how to start the conversation, common reactions children may have, and how to seek help if needed from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
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