Navigating Life Transitions: How Books Can Help Children Accept Change

One thing is certain about change – it can be difficult.

And for children, it’s no exception. Life changes, such as starting a new school, dealing with divorce or even welcoming a new sibling, can be scary and stressful to little ones.

Luckily, there is a wide selection of books for children written on these topics (and other similar ones) that can help support children as they navigate through life’s transitions. Books provide a concrete foundation for children to discuss these topics with adults. Children are often more comfortable discussing scary or uncertain situations and expressing their own emotions through discussion about characters in a book who are experiencing something similar.

These types of books should help children feel that they aren’t alone in facing these situations – and that all of these feelings and fears are topics that can be discussed, said Dr. Perri Klass, Reach Out and Read’s National Medical Director, and professor of journalism and pediatrics at New York University.

“Children are fascinated by stories of everyday life – stories that match their own and stories that vary – and there are certainly lots of really great books about new siblings, about going to school, making friends and even going to the hospital,” Klass said. “Parents should look for books that use humor and don’t worry too much about teaching lessons; what you want is families talking about the situations and the feelings they evoke, acknowledging the issues and finding ways to look for strategies.”

A 2008 National Association for the Education of Young Children article offers some additional insight on using books as a coping strategy for children.

According to the article, “knowing what might happen in situations surrounding deployment, separation or divorce, moving, illness or death demystifies children’s fears associated with these difficult times. Sometimes a child may imagine horrors that are just not possible, and books can open the child’s eyes to the real circumstances related to a problem.”

Books can also help bring comfort and ease stresses associated with “happy” events, such as moving to a new home or welcoming a new sibling.

Is a child in your life going through a transition? Take a look at these books, recommended by our school readiness experts at Reach Out and Read!

Moving

New Baby

Separation

Death

For reading tips, information on the importance of reading aloud and details on how to get involved with Reach Out and Read, visit www.reachoutandread.org

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