Books! As teachers and parents, we love them for all different reasons. We choose books that are beautifully illustrated or because we know our kids will love them. In this post, I will be sharing a few of the many I’ve stumbled across and are absolute treasures. What I love about these books is that all of them have the capacity to connect and move the reader, adult or child. I’ve also learnt that when it comes to reading books like these, its essential to be sensitive to developmental stages that children are passing through.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, and you love beautifully illustrated books, then this book is going to be a treat. This book makes the declaration of Human Rights incredibly accessible to children . Thirty of the best illustrators have depicted each article as a picture. A word of caution, this book demands a slightly older audience, as some of the articles and illustrations can be hard and overwhelming for young children to process.
I remember one little girl who couldn’t get past article four “Nobody has the right to treat you as his or her slave, and you should not make anyone your slave.” It wasn’t the text but the illustration that got to her. The idea was so alien that it took weeks for her to move on. It was also a reminder of the fact that children are everything good personified and make you question if you want to expose them to harsher realities just yet.
The next three books talk about and help children process death .
The first book “Lifetimes” talks about life and death is the most engaging manner. It speaks of beginnings, endings and the living in between of plants, animals and people. The simple language and gorgeous illustration makes this book suitable for all children between 3-7.
“ Cry, Heart But never breaks” is about four little children that are confronted with death, the conversation that ensues between death and them helps them say goodbye and grieve. I save this one for children above six.
Michael Rosen’s “Sad Book” is a narration of his personal experience with the loss of his son and can turn adult readers inside-out. So keep that glass of water and tissue handy. Again I save this one for children over six and closer to seven, sometimes even eight.
I know that though children start processing death at age three, understanding occurs in stages, and, takes a few years. While three-year-olds understand that death is irreversible, it’s the four-year-olds that are grappling with the fact that its universal phenomena; that includes themselves. If your child has for no explicable reason started weeping and refuses to be left alone or shadows you and is between four and five, understand that this may be one of the reasons why. The only way to know is to wait and observe. Usually, children talk about it or find a way to express what they are processing. They may draw animals, people and even objects that they will claim are dying. I’ve witnessed this year after year, and it’s not them having gory imaginations. With some children, you will see it in their pretend play. Their play will reflect rituals surrounding sickness and death. Some will ask questions, but all of them process death. With observation as a guide, only you can decide if the time is right.