Comforting Kids in the Face of Tragedy

Comforting Kids in the Face of Tragedy

Helping Young People Deal with News of Violence

It can be difficult to know how to help children process news they hear and see about random acts of violence. How do we help them feel safe? How much should we tell them? 

We offer you a list of Web and book resources -- compiled by Youth Collections Coordinator Wendy Lukehart -- to help guide children through what can be a scary and uncertain time for young minds. From tips and ideas for adults in starting the difficult conversations about violence, to children's books that kids can explore together with adults or on their own, to books that simply can provide comfort, there are many ways that you can help return children's lives to a sense of normalcy.

How Adults Can Find the Right Words and Manage Fears
Books to Use With Children
After the Questions ... Back to Childhood

How Adults Can Find the Right Words and Manage Fears

The following links offer helpful strategies from well-respected national organizations and leaders, including the expert on childhood feelings, Mr. Rogers. 

Books to Use With Children

Oftentimes, books that are written to children can be most helpful in addressing their questions of "why" and offering comfort. All of the following books can be found at your local DC Public Library.
Preschool-Third Grade | Fourth-Seventh Grade

Preschool-Third Grade

When I Feel ScaredSometimes Bad Things HappenOn That Day: A Book of Hope for Children
When I Feel Scared
by Cornelia Spelman
Sometimes Bad Things Happen
by Ellen B. Jackson
On That Day: A Book of Hope for Children
by Andrea Patel
This book was published after 9/11, but is still quite useful.
Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To SleepYou Hold Me and I'll Hold YouThis Place I Know: Poems of Comfort
Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep
by Joyce Dunbar
You Hold Me and I’ll Hold You
by Jo Carson
This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort
by Georgia Heard

Fourth-Seventh Grade

Bad Stuff in the NewsWhen a Friend DiesWhat Have You Lost?
Bad Stuff in the News: A Guide to Handling the Headlines
by Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Thomas Hartman
When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens about Grieving and Healing
by Marilyn E. Gootman
What Have You Lost?
by Naomi Shihab Nye

After the Questions ... Back to Childhood

After their questions have been addressed, it is quite possible that children who are not in the immediate vicinity of the violence will want life to return to “normal.” They may want to snuggle with a parent and a familiar book, one that feels like an old friend. Your child may prefer adventure, fairy tales, humor or books on “how things work.” Older children may find comfort in fantasy, where good triumphs over evil.

Here is a sampling of suggestions. For more ideas for your child, please talk to one of our children’s librarians or visit our children’s pages.
Pre-School to First Grade | Second and Third Grade | Fourth-Seventh Grade

Pre-School to First Grade

CorduroyJack and the BeanstalkCinderella
by Don Freeman
Jack and the Beanstalk
by Steven Kellogg
by Kinuko Craft
King Bidgood's in the BathtubMake Way for DucklingsStrega Nona
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub
by Audrey Wood
Make Way for Ducklings
by Robert McCloskey
Strega Nona
by Tomie De Paola
The Lion and the MouseAmazing GraceAnansi and the Moss-Covered rock
The Lion and the Mouse
by Jerry Pinkney
Amazing Grace
by Mary Hoffman
Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock
by Eric A. Kimmel
Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever  
Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever
by Richard Scarry

Second and Third Grade

The Mouse and the MotorcycleJunie B. JonesBabymouse
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
by Beverly Cleary
Junie B. Jones
By Barbara Park
by Jennifer L. Holm
Mr. Popper's PenguinsGeronimo StiltonSugar Plum Ballerinas
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
by Richard Atwater
Geronimo Stilton
by Geronimo Stilton
Sugar Plum Ballerinas
by Whoopi Goldberg
Stuart LittleLucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me 
Stuart Little
by E.B. White
Lucy Rose: Here’s the Thing About Me
by Katy Kelly

Fourth-Seventh Grade

The BorrowersThe Chronicles of NarniaHarry Potter
The Borrowers
by Mary Norton
The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis
Harry Potter
by J.K. Rowling
Bud, Not BuddyThe Phantom TollboothBecoming Naomi Leon
Bud, Not Buddy
by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster
Becoming Naomi Leon
by Pam Munoz Ryan
The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Skin I'm InAlice
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by Brian Selznick
The Skin I’m In
by Sharon Flake
The Alice books
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
A Wrinkle In Time  
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle