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Books to Read With Kids After a Tragedy

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Astoundingly, here we are again—heartbroken and furious over yet another school shooting. How do we explain this craziness that keeps happening over and over again? It’s maddening that our children even have to deal with these types of tragedies.

Yet despite our bewilderment, school shootings are a tragic reality and the repercussions for children are significant—fear, anxiety, and trauma. Our children need our help to navigate these events. We’ve rounded up a dozen picture books written by very talented writers to help you address children’s fears and concerns in a comforting, age-appropriate way.

Cover image children's book The Rabbit Listened

When sad things happen Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. His animal friends offer solutions, but none of them is quite right. Then rabbit arrives and gives Taylor just what he needs. This sweet book offers sage advice about how to comfort and heal the people in your life by being a loving, gentle, listening presence.

Cover image children's book A Terrible Thing Happened

Little Sherman witnessed something terrible. He tries to forget about it but he feels nervous and can’t sleep. Finally, he finds someone he can talk to and bit by bit begins to feel better.

Cover image children's book When I Feel Scared

Kids deal with scary feelings in different ways. Developed in close consultation with expert child psychotherapist Dr. Sharie Coombes, this simple story helps kids recognize, understand and talk about their feelings.

Cover image children's book After the Fall

Whatever happened after Humpty Dumpty had his great fall? Did he just lay there in a scramble? Or did he summon the courage to face his fears? This story carries the powerful message that sometimes life begins when you get back up.

Cover image children's book Jenny is Scared

Jenny and her brother Sam know that something serious is going on. Their mom and dad are preoccupied with the TV news and it just doesn’t feel like a regular day. They want to know what’s going on and how not to be so scared, but they need Mom and Dad’s help.

Cover image children's book Scaredy Squirrel

Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. It’s way too dangerous out there! He could encounter tarantulas, green Martians or killer bees. But one day, Scaredy Squirrel leaves his tree and leaps into the unknown. And in doing so, he discovers something about himself and the world.

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Cover image children's book Swimmy

Life can be scary in the big blue sea! A beloved classic, Swimmy has helped generations of kids learn how to be brave and use ingenuity and teamwork to overcome danger.

Cover image children's book Brave as Can Be

Big sister helps little sister deal with her fears by sharing all the things she used to be afraid of and the tricks she used to help. She also shares that with time scary feelings fade away.

Cover image children's book Once I Was Very Very Scared

Even though we all have scary experiences, we may not all react in the same way. In this sweet story, squirrel and his animal friends share their experiences and how they learned to cope with help from grown-ups who helped them feel safe.

Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee and Pascal Lemaître

Cover image children's book Come With Me

A young girl asks her father what she can do to make the sometimes scary world a better place. What she learns is that small and seemingly insignificant actions can make a big difference in the world. An amazing story about the power of kindness, bravery, and friendship in the face of uncertainty.

Cover image children's book Something Happened In Our Park

When Miles’s cousin Keisha is injured in a shooting, he needs help from friends and family. Eventually he learns to use his imagination and creativity to help him cope with his fears.

Cover image children's book A Kids Book About School Shootings

Written by a Columbine High School shooting survivor, this book “helps kids and adults understand school shootings and encourages us to be prepared while reminding us that we should never let the fear of the what-ifs take over our lives.”

Also, How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings

Age-appropriate, helpful strategies to educate kids and relieve their anxiety about this scary, sad topic from Scholastic.

Advice came from Kyle D. Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine from the Washington Post.

Advice for taking an age-based approach to discussing news of school shootings with kids from Common Sense Media.

Strategies for dealing with anxiety—your kids’ and your own from ChildMind.

Tips about how to start the conversation, common reactions children may have, and how to seek help if needed from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Plus, 5 One-Minute Activities To Help Your Students Build Emotional Resilience

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