Teaching Cultural Compassion
When Bad News Happens
I don't know about all of you, but I'm guessing if you found this site, you are someone who cares deeply about others. So, like me, you've probably been reeling from the constant barrage of tragic and terrifying news from the last few months. If we as adults feel this way, we can only imagine how our kids are digesting what they see: in the media but also in how we react. Here are a few books about exactly that and how to talk to kids about when bad things happen.
Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee and Pascal Lemaître is about what we can do when we feel helpless and hopeless. There's always something small we can do to help the world be a better place. (This book is a little more specific than, but reminds me of, the message of Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein. Be sure to check that one out, especially for the youngest of us.)
The Breaking News by Sarah Lynne Reul gets even more specific than Come with Me, but still is just about a kid noticing that the adults around are reacting badly to whatever the news people are saying. Another good reminder of the little things we can do when we feel helpless.
Something Happened in Our Town and Something Happened in Our Park by a group of psychologists from Emory University get very specific. These two books are specifically about racial injustice and gun violence, respectively. For older kids who need a little more context but you're not sure what to say, these professionals have it covered for you.
And with hurricane season only just starting, three books about storms:
A Flood of Kindness by Ellen Leventhal and Blythe Russo,
When the Storm Comes by Linda Ashman and Taeeun Yoo,
and The Longest Storm by Dan Yaccarino will help kids understand a little more about the experience of kids caught in storms...and the aftermath thereof--without losing hope.
If you know you/the kid in your life is dealing with grief, make sure you check out this list, too.
I hope this helps you. Honestly, reading these books helped me restore a little hope as well.
Reminder that I will receive a small commission for books purchased through my list links.
How do you talk to kids about war and refugees?
The ongoing war in Ukraine has brought a spotlight again to how war affects children--both those in the middle of it, and those in our homes far, far away from the fighting. If kids see some of what's going on in the world, they often have a lot of questions, and might even be scared.
Today's selections should help you have better informed, more compassionate discussions with the kids in your life about what it might be like to be in that situation and how we, even from here, can help out.
How War Changed Rondo is a book by Ukranian author/illustrator team Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv and we are blessed to have it translated into English by Oksana Lushchevska. Written during one of the last times Russia invaded Ukraine, we get a first hand account using feeling words about what being a child in this situation might be like.
Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming and Sarah Dressen-McQueen is a book that talks about helping. After World War II, there were multiple organizations that helped kids in the US send boxes of helpful things to kids in Europe who had been effected by the War. There are many organizations today that serve refugee communities and many have ways kids can help! Check through your church or school for ideas.
Two more books sharing the stories of child refugees are My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald and Freya Blackwood and Four Feet, Two Sandals by Khadra Mohammed and Karen Lynn Williams, the first about a girl in her new country, the second about two girls living in a camp. These stories through the eyes of children always bring more empathy and understanding to a story alongside the natural hope of children.
I have been trying to work on articles for this blog, but realized I didn't feel right starting 2022 without saying goodbye to those amazing authors and illustrators who died in 2021, but not before gave us these beautiful diverse books. Click on each name for more about them and click the link at the bottom for a list of my favorites of their books.
Eloise Greenfield: A poet and a prophet, I was blessed to have been able to meet her in person a few years ago. Her presence is just as calming and compassionate as you would imagine from her books.
Jerry Pinkney: Illustrator and interpreter, Jerry's amazing artwork brings old stories to life--and all with diverse characters. Whether it's his interpretation of Noah's Ark or The Little Mermaid, people of any age are drawn into the story.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: A powerful, gentle voice reminding us that we all have worth in the sight of God and that God's Dream is for us to love one another. He made the world a better place through his actions and thankfully left us books for children and adults.
Kathleen Krull: Sought to teach us the history of those we might not have found on our own. Kathleen made sure to find the story of how greatness becomes great in people of all backgrounds!
Bernette Ford: Started Black Creators for Children in the 1970s to ensure that Black creators had an outlet to be seen and heard--and to help change the lives of children like them. Though she mostly did editing and advocacy, she co-authored Bright Eyes, Brown Skin which remains a staple today.
Floyd Cooper: Believed “giving kids a positive alternative to counteract the negative impact of what is conveyed in today’s media is a huge opportunity.” He illustrated and even wrote many award winning books (including some by the authors above)!
All of these talented writers, illustrators, and editors will be severely missed in the world of diverse books. I know I have mourned each of their losses personally and am grateful they were all so prolific so that I can still surround myself with their work.
Click here for a shopping list of my favorites. Reminder that I will receive a small commission for books purchased through my list links.