Life is filled with all kinds of experiences. Most of us are fortunate that the bulk of those experiences are positive, if not altogether wonderful. But life wouldn’t be life if tough times didn’t exist at all. Illness, moving, job loss, divorce; these are all situations we might find ourselves in the middle of at some time in our lives—and probably even more than once.
As mothers, when those terrible, or even simply challenging times arise, we are often the ones our children turn to for the how and the why of them. We can usually draw on our own wealth of experiences to help our children through them, but when we can’t, a good book on the subject can usually help.
I recently asked my friend Rebecca Teglas who is the Head of Children’s Services at The Larchmont Public Library for help finding some books dealing with just these kinds of tough subjects. She’s a super resource on all types of books for kids (and adults!) and gave me some great titles, a few of which I’ve checked out and reviewed below.
Grandpa’s Music: A Story About Alzheimer’s, by Alison Acheson. When Callie’s Grandpa moves in with them, the whole family pulls together to help him navigate his daily routine. Sometimes Grandpa gets confused, but baseball and playing the piano are always a comfort to him.
This is a simple story about the challenges and rewards of living with a relative with this oftentimes debilitating illness, and the difference even a child can make in their life.
The Puddle Jumper’s Guide to Kicking Cancer, by Elizabeth Billups. Little Gracie has Leukemia, which mostly stinks, but also enables her to enjoy the good times more, and even means so many stuffed animals she can give some to her sisters!
I actually found this book for free from my Kindle Unlimited. Written in child’s language, this is a great book on the ins and outs of the disease and its accompanying treatments. The idea that one can either be sad that it’s raining or happy that there are mud-puddles to splash around in really resonated with me. There’s even a terrific glossary at the end of common terms, and some workbook items for sick kids.
The Memory String, by Eve Bunting. Laura has a collection of special buttons on a string—including one from the nightgown her mother was wearing when she died. Laura’s new stepmom Jane wants to help her repair the string when it breaks, but Laura’s not sure she wants her help.
Some things can’t be replaced, but we can, and should, allow new people into our lives. We aren’t erasing the old memories, we’re creating new ones. This is a great book for children struggling with the death of a parent, or going through a divorce, and a reminder for the “new” parent that treading lightly is usually the best policy. Plus, the real villain in the story is the evil cat, and not the step-mother!
The Good-Pie Party, by Liz Gorton Scanlon. Posy is moving away and she and her friends are really sad about it. But a pie-party with all of her friends and neighbors help to make going away just a tiny bit sweet.
Less a book about all the new adventures that await in a new place, and more about how to say “see you later,” rather than “good-bye.” It’s a nice reminder that we can enjoy new experiences while still holding onto old relationships and memories.