Picture books can help children deal with gun violence

By November 19, 2019 Children's Literature, News

Gun violence affects millions of people around the world, especially in countries like the USA where guns are part of the culture and many are owned by civilians.

Since 1982 there have been over 110 mass shootings in the USA alone- defined since 2012 as indiscriminate killings of more than 3 people. The shootings do not include gun deaths related to other crimes like armed robbery or gang violence. Shootings in schools have become commonplace but still there is pushback against gun control in the USA.

Children can be traumatised by continuous and normalised gun violence and picture books can help parents and teachers talk with kids about their worries. Not all the books relate directly to mass shootings or gun violence but have themes and tools to give adults a chance to guide children through their trauma or stress.

Helping children work through their fears.

“With its spare, poignant text and irresistibly sweet illustrations, The Rabbit Listened is a tender meditation on loss. When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn’t feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs. Whether read in the wake of tragedy or as a primer for comforting others, this is a deeply moving and unforgettable story sure to soothe heartache of all sizes.”

Healing toxic environments for children.

“Separated from his family when they were forced to flee their home, a young East African boy named Deo lives alone in the Lukole refugee camp in Tanzania. With scarce resources at the camp, bullies have formed gangs to steal what they can, and a leader named Remy has begun targeting Deo. Then one day a coach gathers all the children to play soccer. Though Deo loves soccer and has even made his own ball out of banana leaves, he’s unsure at first about joining in when he sees Remy on the field. But as Deo and the other boys get drawn into the game, everything begins to change. Their shared joy in playing provides the children — including Remy — with a sense of belonging.”

Explaining racially motivated attacks to children.

“Emma and Josh heard that something happened in their town. A black man was shot by the police. “Why did the police shoot that man?” “Can police go to jail?” Something Happened in Our Town follows two families – one white, one black – as they discuss a police shooting of a black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives. Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues. * 2018 Foreword Reviews Finalist in the Picture Books category.”

Helping children deal with trauma.

“Healing Days is a book designed to be used in therapy for young children and functions as an excellent resource for those who have experienced physical or sexual abuse, or other trauma. Readers will follow four children as they learn ways to cope with their own trauma. Sensitive, empowering, and beautifully illustrated, the book models therapeutic coping responses and provides children with tools they may use to deal with their own trauma. A Dear Reader introduction is included for the child reader. Also available is an online Note to Parents and Caregivers.”

“Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen. At first he tried to forget about it, but soon something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous for no reason. Sometimes his stomach hurt. He had bad dreams. And he started to feel angry and do mean things, which got him in trouble. Then he met Ms. Maple, who helped him talk about the terrible thing that he had tried to forget. Now Sherman is feeling much better. This gently told and tenderly illustrated story is for children who have witnessed any kind of violent or traumatic episode, including physical abuse, school or gang violence, accidents, homicide, suicide, and natural disasters such as floods or fire. An afterword by Sasha J. Mudlaff written for parents and other caregivers offers extensive suggestions for helping traumatised children, including a list of other sources that focus on specific events.”

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