Helping Young Children Deal With Grief

griefp1When a family faces grief due to the loss of a pet, home, or family member it is often hard to help our youngest family members deal with the changes. Sometimes we are so busy trying to deal with our own grief and the practical matters that need to be handled that we don’t have the energy and creative thinking necessary to handle the questions children have. Here are a variety of books that might help you and your kids deal with the emotions and changes.

In Our Parenting Section:griefp2
Tear Soup: a Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen; illustrated by Taylor Bills

Lifetimes: a Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingp

griefp3When Dinosaurs Die: a Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

Guiding Your Child Through Grief by Mary Ann Emswiler and James P. Emswiler

When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal GRIEF1with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses by John W. James and Russell Friedman with Leslie Landon

With Our Picture Books and Children’s Non Fiction:
Always and Forever by Alan Durant; illustrated by Debi Gliori

Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varleygrief8

When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings by Petra Math

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: a Story of Life for All Ages by Leo Buscaglia

I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelmgrief5

Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley

Harry & Hopper by Margaret Wild

When People Die by Pete Sanders and Steve Myersgrief7

Death by Patricia J. Murphy

When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers

RT Book Reviews Magazine’s Author Career Achievement Awards 2015

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Each year, the editors of RT Book Review Magazine and 50 reviewers work together to narrow down a long list of nominees to find the one author who has made a great contribution in his or her genre.   Below are the 2015 winners.  Is your favorite author a winner?

Contemporary Romance – Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West.

Paranormal Romance – Christine Feehan is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of over 40 published novels, including five series; Leopard series, Dark series, Ghostwalker series, Drake Sisters series, & the Sisters of the Heart series.

Historical Romance – Julia Quinn is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of only sixteen members of Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame.

Erotic Romance – Maya Banks is the #1 New York Times, #1 USA Today and international bestselling author of over 50 novels.

Romantic Suspense – Carla Neggers is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 60 novels, with translations in 24 languages.

Historical Mystery – Rhys Bowen is the New York Times Bestselling author of the Royal Spyness series, Molly Murphy Mysteries, and Constable Evans. She has won the Agatha Best Novel Award and has been nominated for the Edgar Best Novel.

Mystery – Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Troublemaker graphic novel, How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

Urban Fantasy – Laurell K. Hamilton is an American fantasy and romance writer. She is best known as the author of two series of stories, the New York Times-bestselling Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series and the Merry Gentry series.

Inspirational – Irene Hannon is the author of 50 romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women’s fiction novels. She is a seven-time finalist for and three-time winner of the RITA award—the “Oscar” of romance fiction—and a member of the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame.

Mainstream – NancyThayer is the author of twenty-three novels about the mysteries and romance of families and relationships: marriage and friendships, divorce and love, custody and step parenting, family secrets and private self-affirmation, the quest for independence and the normal human hunger for personal connections.

Draw A Bird Day

Last year the Cheshire Library celebrated Draw a Bird Day by having staff make their own bird drawings. This post appeared a few weeks later, describing the experience and the significance of Draw a Bird Day. Here it is again, for those who wish to know the story behind Draw a Bird Day.
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2015-04-09 18.27.16In 1943, Dorie Cooper was a 7 year old living in England. Her mother took her to a hospital to visit her uncle who was wounded in the war. While they were there, Dorie’s uncle was very distraught, having lost his right leg to a land mine. In an attempt to cheer him up, she asked him “Draw a bird for me, please.” Even though he was unwell, he decided to do as Dorie asked. He looked out his window and drew a picture of a robin.

On April 7, 2015 the director of the Cheshire Library put a piece of paper into everyone’s mailbox. The page was blank except for one sentence across the top: Wednesday, April 8th is “Draw a Picture of a Bird Day” followed by the line: Here is my picture of a 2015-04-09 18.25.46bird.2015-04-09 18.25.57

What fun, I thought and took my paper home to plan a drawing for the next day. On April 8th when I arrived at work, several staff had created bird drawings. There were all types from simple line drawings to colorful sketches. Owls, doves, robins, swans, and hummingbirds found their way onto the wall of our staff room.

After seeing her uncle’s bird picture, Dorie laughed out loud and proclaimed that he was not a very good 2015-04-09 18.26.34artist, but that she would hang the picture in her room nonetheless. Her uncle’s spirits were lifted by his niece’s complete honesty and acceptance. Several other wounded soldiers also had their day brightened by the event and every time Dorie came to visit thereafter, they held drawing contests to see who could produce the best bird pictures. Within several months, the entire ward’s walls were decorated by bird drawings.

2015-04-09 18.26.12The next evening, as I was standing there looking at the pictures, I became curious about the source of Draw a Bird Day. So, I did some research and discovered the Draw a Bird Day website. I read with interest about Dorie and her uncle. And then came the third paragraph.

3 years later, Dorie was killed after being struck by a car. At her funeral, her coffin was filled with bird images that had been made by soldiers, nurses and doctors from the ward where her uncle had been. Ever since then, those men and women remembered the little girl who brought hope to the ward by drawing birds on her birthday, April 8th.
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I was stunned. Dorie, the girl who had loved bird drawings, died at age ten? That was not the way I was expecting the tale to end. And then I read a little further.

Draw a Bird Day was never declared an official holiday, but it grew through those soldiers and medical personnel and their families. Today, it is celebrated world wide as a way to express joy in the very simplest of things in life.

2015-04-09 18.26.07I went back into the staff room and looked at the bird drawings again. I had enjoyed making my drawing and viewing the drawings of my coworkers. It had lifted my spirits to make that picture and to see the creativity of the people I worked with. It had, in fact, the same effect that it had in that hospital ward all those years ago.

2015-04-07 16.45.35Seventy-two years after a little girl asked her uncle to draw her a bird, people all over the world are still drawing birds on her birthday. Still celebrating hope and happiness. Still celebrating joy in the simple. Still sharing the fun.

Would you like to learn how to draw a bird? Try these titles:

Drawing Birds     Colored Pencil     Laws guide

How a Stuffed Bear Can Give You Tranquility

Stuffed bears and other beloved toys certainly gave us tranquility when we were children, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about philosophy. I’m talking about Taoism. I’m talking, of course, about Winnie-the-Pooh.

Jacket.aspxNow what, I can hear you asking, does Winnie-the-Pooh have to do with tranquility, philosophy, and Taoism? The answers are revealed in Benjamin Hoff‘s The Tao of Pooh, a book of 158 pages that deftly explains the principles of Taoism and applies them to modern life using the seemingly-odd, but, ultimately, not-so-odd example of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Using excerpts from the Pooh books by A.A. Milne, Hoff makes Taoism approachable and easy to understand. It’s not just a deep Eastern philosophy for hermits and mystics!  The tenets of Taoism can be incorporated into everyday life as Hoff illustrates via Pooh, a bear who exists very much in the now.

Using Pooh as his Taoist master, Hoff explores  “the ability to enjoy the simple and the quiet, the natural and the plain” along with “the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work”.  He uses the examples of Rabbit (Knowledge for the Sake of Being Clever), Owl (Knowledge for the Sake of Appearing Wise), and Eeyore (Knowledge for the Sake of Complaining About Something) to illustrate non-Taoist aspects of life, things that get in the way of happiness.

“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret…: Life is Fun.”

And what are the lessons of Taoism?

Things Are As They Are.
Everything has its own Inner Nature.
Enjoy the Process.
Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least they do when you let them.

And so much more. This is a perfect  read when you need some tranquility, perfect for Jacket.aspx2those desiring some calmness, slowness, some quiet. And the book is fun. It reads easily, quickly, with humor, wit, and quotes from Milne’s beloved stories. It can’t miss and it doesn’t miss.

By the way, Pooh Day is January 18th (also the birthday of A.A. Milne). What better way to celebrate than by reading the Tao of Pooh and it’s companion book, The Te Of Piglet.

Keep Yourself Reading

I’ve always been an avid reader, but sometimes I stall out for weeks at a time. It could be that a book just isn’t clicking with me, and so I never make the time to finish it. Or maybe I finish a particularly challenging or emotional book, and I’m hesitant to jump into a new story right away. Or maybe I’m just busy. Or maybe I’m watching too much Netflix!

If this sounds like you, I can help. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to keep myself always reading.

  1. Keep track of the books you want to read so you never have to wonder “What’s Next?” I love www.goodreads.com for keep tracking of what I’ve read and what I plan to read.
  2. Don’t waste time on a book that isn’t for you. If you’re not enjoying something, allow yourself to read another book instead. Reading for pleasure should never be a chore! You can always come back to that other book later.
  3. If life seems to get in the way of making time for reading, grab something that you can’t put down. It’s OK to indulge in fluffier stories if that’s what keeps your momentum going. You’ll be surprised by the time you suddenly “find” when a book is too good to ignore.
  4. Make reading a part of your routine. Whether it’s with your morning coffee, on your lunch break, or before you go to sleep, try to make a set time to read every single day.
  5. And my favorite tip: When you finish a book, immediately start reading another one, if only just the first page. This remedies the problem of letting a book “sink in” for a day, or two days, before picking up another.

I recently stalled after reading The Nightingale. It was such an emotionally intense book that I couldn’t bring myself to open another after I’d finished it, and soon a week, and then two went by. Luckily, a friend let me borrow a real page-turner, The Headmaster’s Wife, and I got my momentum back. If you like ivy-covered boarding schools, mystery, and intrigue, check it out!

The Nightingale        The Headmaster's Wife

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene