We know it’s tough to talk to kids about school shootings. But unfortunately, these days it’s something that we can’t ignore.
We fully understand that it’s a tough topic to approach with your children, but it’s crucial to have a conversation about school shootings. With school shootings becoming more prevalent, kids are introduced to this scary topic in school, usually within the first week of back to school.
To help you navigate this sensitive subject, we’ve compiled a list of age-appropriate books about school shootings that can aid children in understanding and coping with this reality. These books can provide a starting point for conversations that empower children to feel more in control of their fears and emotions.
How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings
We understand that talking to kids about school shootings is not an easy task. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or even scared when broaching this topic with your child. However, it’s essential not to avoid the topic. Discussing this with your child can help you provide guidance on a topic that your child will learn about in school anyways.
To make this conversation more manageable for both you and your child, we’ve gathered some tips to help you approach the topic in an age-appropriate and gentle manner. Remember that every child is different, and there’s no one “right” way to have this conversation.
Start slow and use simple language. Don’t provide too much information at once, and let your child guide the conversation. This isn’t a one-time talk – it’s an ongoing conversation that you can revisit as your child grows and matures.
Validate your child’s feelings and concerns. Let them know that it’s okay to feel scared, anxious, or worried, and that you’re there to support them.
Reassure your child and emphasize safety measures in place. Let them know that schools have safety protocols in place to keep them safe, and that there are adults whose job it is to keep them safe.
Answer your child’s questions honestly and factually, without overwhelming them. Use simple language and avoid discussing violent details.
Encourage ongoing conversation and check in regularly. Let your child know that they can come to you at any time to talk or ask questions, and that you will always be there to support them.
Books for Kids About School Shootings
A Kids Book About School Shootings
A compassionate and empathetic guide for children and their caregivers to understand the reality of school shootings. Written by a Columbine shooting survivor this book helps children prepare for the possibility of a school shooting without giving in to fear and anxiety. The book emphasizes the importance of knowledge, preparedness, and having a voice in the face of trauma.
I'm Not Scared...I'm Prepared!
This book is written in an age-appropriate and non-fearful way, with the aim of enhancing the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) plan for children of all ages. It encourages children to be prepared and have a plan of action in case of danger. It emphasizes the importance of following directions and staying safe, without causing unnecessary fear or anxiety.
Will It Be Okay?
Through beautiful illustrations and powerful storytelling, this book explores a range of difficult situations such as a bee sting, a thunderstorm, losing a loved one, and dealing with big emotions. The book answers the question with humanity, humor, and grace, reminding children that even in the face of difficulty, everything will be okay.
A heartwarming book that helps children learn to identify and express their big feelings, while also promoting valuable skills in stress relief, emotional regulation, and resilience. This book set also includes a soft plush stuffed toy that could fit in a child's backpack.
When I Feel Scared: A Book About Feelings
A powerful resource for parents and teachers who want to help children navigate difficult emotions. With the guidance of child psychotherapist Dr. Sharie Coombes, this book provides practical tools for children to recognize and express their feelings of fear, and learn how to cope with them in a healthy way. Through relatable storytelling and engaging illustrations, children will learn that they are not alone in their fears and that it's okay to ask for help.
The Rabbit Listened
A heartwarming picture book that shows the power of empathy and kindness when someone we care about is going through a tough time. The story follows Taylor, who is struggling with something sad and doesn't know where to turn. All the animals try to give advice, but it's not what Taylor needs. Then the rabbit comes along and simply listens, providing the comfort and support that Taylor needs. The book's simple, touching message and beautiful illustrations make it a must-read for kids and adults alike.
Brave As Can Be: A Book of Courage
An empowering picture book that tackles the topic of fear in a relatable way. It follows the story of two sisters, one older and one younger, as the older sister shares her past fears and the strategies she used to overcome them with her little sister. The book is filled with charming illustrations and die-cuts, making it a fun and interactive experience for young readers. It's a great tool for parents and educators to teach children how to be brave and face their fears head-on.
A Terrible Thing Happened
A touching and insightful children's book that deals with a difficult topic: trauma. Sherman Smith witnesses a terrible event and tries to push it out of his mind, but it keeps haunting him, causing him to feel anxious and have nightmares. With the help of a compassionate person, Sherman learns to confront his feelings and begin the healing process. This book is a great resource for parents, teachers, and mental health professionals to help children understand and cope with traumatic experiences.
Resources to Help You Talk to Your Child About School Shootings
As parents and caregivers, it’s important to have all the resources available to help your child feel safe and secure. Here are some additional resources to assist you in discussing school shootings with your child:
Scholastic provides age-appropriate and helpful strategies to educate kids and relieve their anxiety about school shootings.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides tips about how to start the conversation, common reactions children may have, and how to seek help if needed.
Safe and Sound Schools is a nonprofit organization that offers a range of resources, including toolkits and webinars, to help parents, schools, and communities better prepare for and respond to crisis situations.
Common Sense Media provides tips for taking an age-based approach to discussing news of school shootings with kids.
ChildMind offers strategies for dealing with anxiety related to school shootings for both children and parents.
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