Addressing Sensitive Subjects With Children’s Books
When kids ask questions about difficult topics, parents at a loss for words can turn to books for answers. Several authors with ties to the Coastal Virginia region have penned books addressing tough subjects, such as a newborn in the hospital, a parent’s deployment and how to establish personal boundaries. With straightforward language and colorful illustrations, both kids and parents can draw comfort from the pages of these books and make complex subjects easier to discuss.
Daddy’s on a Chip: Deployment through a Child’s Eyes
By Jessica E. Silva
Deployment is a fact of life for many families in Coastal Virginia. Children, however, may struggle with constantly having to say goodbye to a parent and may not understand exactly what their parent is doing while he or she is away. Daddy’s on a Chip: Deployment through a Child’s Eyes provides a kid’s-eye view of deployment and can be a source of laughter and comfort for both parent and child.
The story, as seen through the eyes of a young girl, starts with goodbye. Her daddy is once again sailing away on a “chip,” and she wonders just what kind of chips her daddy must deal with. Are they chocolate chips? Potato chips? Computer chips? The girl tells about life at home while her father is gone, including the changes her mom must make to the routine. For those who are temporary single parents during a spouse’s deployments, this book is a great resource for helping kids talk about the changes the family goes through and how they can deal with them together. Reading the book is also a safe way to encourage kids to share and work through the many emotions they may experience during a parent’s deployment.
It’s . . . Just Private
By Shelby DeBause and Ashley Wroton
Talking to kids about personal boundaries can be nerve-wracking for parents and confusing for kids. In their book, It’s . . . Just Private, authors Shelby DeBause and Ashley Wroton handle the subject in a nonthreatening way to relax anxious parents and, at the same time, satisfy curious kids.
One day, main characters Jayla and Justin encounter an uncomfortable and perplexing scene on the playground, and when they tell their teacher what they saw, it opens the door for a discussion about personal boundaries and what parts of our bodies should be kept private. In simple, clear language, the authors explain that Jayla’s and Justin’s parents and doctors are allowed to see them without their clothes on, but never other classmates. Jayla and Justin also learn that their bodies are made to be respected and that private parts are not a source of shame or embarrassment.
At the end of the book the authors include a list of tips to help caregivers navigate children’s natural curiosity about their bodies and the bodies of others. With concrete advice and an open approach, the authors provide structure and guidance for parents during what can be one of childhood’s tougher patches.
Waiting for Emma: A Brother’s Story
By Danielle Leibovici
A family member in the hospital is stressful no matter how old you are, but for children with a newborn sibling in the hospital, it can be downright terrifying. Waiting for Emma: A Brother’s Story was written specifically for children with siblings in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), a place for babies who are born too soon or who have medical conditions requiring special care.
Using the passage of time and the changing seasons as a backdrop, author Danielle Leibovici tells the story of Adam, a young boy who is looking forward to meeting his new sister. When his sister is born premature, Adam visits her for the first time in the NICU, where he learns all about the staff and equipment used to give his sister the care she needs. Detailed illustrations of life inside the NICU are especially helpful for parents, as they can show children just what to expect when they visit their own siblings at the hospital.
Leibovici includes tips for parents juggling the responsibilities of a newborn in the NICU and caring for other children at home. Recounting her own experiences, she provides tips that include ways to share feelings, deal with numerous doctor and hospital visits and how to help children feel loved and cared for during such a stressful time for the whole family.