I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
When we learn about something bad - even when we hear only bits and pieces of it - our brains get busy trying to make sense of what we've heard. Seeing distressing events on the news, or hearing about them later, can feel scary and overwhelming. Talking about what happened, and how we feel about it, is hugely important.
Something Bad Happened guides children ages 6-12 and the adults who care about them through tough conversations about news of large-scale events, addressing questions such as: "Where did it happen?" "Why did it happen?" and "Will it happen again?" Feelings like sadness, fear and confusion are normalized, and coping tools provided.
For children and parents to read together, or by a child with a parent nearby, this helpful resource by a child psychologist best-selling author provides comfort, support and action plans for children learning about the big bad things that happen in our world.
Easily one of the best books I have found so far to help young children understand the sometimes-scary world we live in. It does a phenomenal job showing that, even though these events are frightening, there are always people to help you figure out what is going on, and to process it. The book is a fantastic guide for parents on how to protect and inform their children, at the same time. It is also purposely general in order to encompass pretty much any 'bad thing' that you can imagine having to try to explain to your child.
This book would be useful for so many - parents, teachers, counselors, social workers, pediatricians, pastors/youth/children's ministers, basically anyone who cares for children in any capacity. To be clear, it is NOT for children/families who have been directly involved in a traumatic event. The author makes a point to directly state this. It is for those trying to process events that did not impact them directly, but have impacted their world in general, if only by the way adults are acting/behaving/speaking/not speaking, etc. We need to be able to guide our children through what seems to be increasingly turbulent times and this guide is a great starting point to do just that.
I thought specifically of Sept 11 when I first saw this book on NetGalley - not only for my students, but first for Eleanor. She is six and a half, and loves the Who Is/Who Was/What Is/etc series - you know, the books where the subject on the cover has a GIANT head and itty bitty body. The book about the Twin Towers is one that we own and we did start it months ago, but at one point Eleanor said she wanted to take a break from it because it made her sad. We will revisit it sometime in the future whenever she is ready, and with this book I will be even better prepared to help her understand the life-changing/world-changing event that occurred long before she was born, whose impact is still seen and felt today.
Additionally, every year on Sept 11, I teach my students about it. I have taught 3rd-6th grade and I appreciate the author's push for discussion and dialogue. I use material from kid-friendly, age-appropriate websites (such as readworks.org and BrainPop) to present the material to them, and give them the opportunity to ask as many questions as they need or want in order to make sense. It truly is so hard even for 6th graders to understand that day, the destruction on such a massive scale. After reading this, I have ideas on how to incorporate its suggestions into the lesson for my future students.
The introduction really helps adults understand how to use the book, and the author gives seven tips to help guide the conversations. The following chapters then focus on various points in the process - from finding out the bad thing that happened, calming oneself, learning information, identifying those who can help, dealing with a variety of emotions, caring for oneself, and finally - perhaps one of the most important - healing the world. Most of the chapters are 6-7 pages. The longest chapter is also one that it critically important - that of explaining the likelihood of a bad thing happening to someone. This is so crucial because it can help calm a child's worst fears, help them to understand that even though this bad thing happened, it does not mean it will happen to them. I like the examples that the author used, along with the illustrations, of using marbles in a jar to demonstrate possible vs likely.
It is sometimes so hard to know what or how much to say to younger children when something bad does happen. They will likely hear about it at some point, maybe from kids at school with older siblings, or overhearing a conversation between parents, etc. We have only so much ability to control what our children hear and when they hear it, and this book goes a long way in helping guide that process of understanding when a tragic event has entered their radar.
Personally, I do not ever share the "something bad" events with Eleanor. She is six. There is no reason to bring trauma and despair into her world, when there will be enough for her to see for herself when she is much older. I hate that books like this even need to exist, but there will come a day when she will see a news report, or hear a conversation, and I want her to come to me, to ask me questions. This book will be just the tool needed to start the healing process and show her that bad things happen, but we can understand the complex issues, work through them, and help try to make our world a better place.