Using Children’s Literature to Address Childhood Grief and Anxiety

Children’s books deal with every aspect of life, including childhood grief and anxiety. A review of two books published in 2017 that handle these topics admirably. Note: I received review copies of both books featured in this post. All opinions are my own.

Children's books deal with every aspect of life, including childhood grief and anxiety. A review of two books published in 2017 that handle these topics admirably.

Using Books to Help Children Cope with Anxiety

Smoot picture book review

Most children feel at least some anxiety, and for many children anxiety prevents them from engaging in activities that interest them. The picture book Smoot deals with this crippling level of anxiety. A young boy struggles with such anxiety that he does nothing. His shadow resorts to leaving him, but for a great cause. This gentle story can help encourage anxxious children to let go of their fears and try new things.

Check out my daughter Emma’s review of Smoot:

This picture book is SO CUTE! It gives a totally new view on shadows, telling the story of a boy who is always sad–but his shadow wants to be free and happy! Then his shadow escapes and runs around free. Then more shadows get released and do the things of their dreams. Things start getting crazy! Meanwhile the boy realizes that he wants to do these things and eventually all the shadows return–but bring their dreams come true with them. The ending is really sweet, and I think that is my favorite part.

All four of my kids really liked this book. I made a simple printable activity for my homeschooling daughters. You can download the lined worksheet here, and the unlined worksheet (for drawing) here.

Smoot picture book creative activity

Using Books to Help Children Process Grief

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole Review

When tragedies happen, society prioritizes the grief of adults. This makes sense, because the adults need to be become functional in order to look after children. Unfortunately, this means we often lack a clear path for helping children process their grief. The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole offers an insightful and empathic look at childhood grief, and a pathway out of this grief.

Emma also reviewed The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole:

A girl named Stella whose Dad just died finds a (really cute) black hole. She takes care of it. But the black hole grows bigger and bigger as she feeds him. Then she’s sad about her Dad being dead and she throws all of her things with memories of him into her black hole. But once the things are in the black hole then she starts forgetting about them. Her brother and her mom forget too. Then she is watching her little brother in the bathtub and then the black hole EATS her little brother AND the bathtub! She then goes on a journey IN the black hole, and that is my favorite part. Luckily eventually they get out and NASA takes the black hole to outer space.

More books to Help Children Process Grief and Cope with Anxiety

Using children's literature to help kids cope with grief and anxiety

My blog friend Allie has put together two excellent book lists with resources to help children process grief and anxiety. You can find these lists here:

More Resources to Help Children With Grief and Anxiety

Resources to Help Children Deal with Anxiety

Resources to Help Children Deal with Grief

Do you have a favorite book or resource to share? Please share links or ideas on my Facebook page, or tag me on Instagram

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

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