Helping Kids Cope With Tragedy

As our country copes with the traumatic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, our children absorb information that they see and hear in the media. Their fertile, young minds can be breeding grounds for ideas about violence and tragedy. When unimaginable acts happen, it is difficult for adults to process them and even harder to explain those events to children. How do we answer impossible questions? How much of the truth should we share? What is the best way to offer reassurance in the face of uncertainty? The Alexandria Library has compiled a list of resources available both in the library and on the Internet to help answer some of those tough questions.

Find out how to help the Newtown community with your monetary or book donations through the Books Heal Hearts project.

Books for Kids

When I’m Afraid 

by Jane Aaron

Designed as a conversation starter, this book focuses on how adults can offer reassurance when children are fearful. Includes a parents’ guide.


Sometimes Bad Things Happen

Sometimes Bad Things Happen 

by Ellen Jackson

Explores causes of sadness, including seeing a frightening story on the news, and introduces strategies for dealing with sadness.



This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort 

selected by Georgia Heard

Life-affirming poetry and illustrations compiled in the wake of 9/11. Although inspired by a specific event, the material itself is general and can be used to bring comfort after any tragic event.



When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death 

by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

Attempts to answer some of the difficult questions children have about death and offers specific suggestions for coping with fright and anger.



Love Waves

Love Waves 

by Rosemary Wells

Offers reassurance to children with the message that love always connects parents and children, even when they are apart.




Books for Parents

Freeing Your Child from Anxiety

Freeing Your Child from Anxiety 

by Tamar Chansky

Offers parents methods for teaching their child how to deal with stress and face the uncertainties of life.




Growing Up Brave

Growing Up Brave 

by Donna Pincus

A psychologist offers simple tools to assist parents in dealing with their children’s anxieties.



Resources on the Web:

Fred Rogers Talks about Tragic Events in the News
Mr. Rogers offers concrete advice on how to talk with children about scary events in the news. Includes a short video.


New York Times: Tips for Talking to Children About the Shooting
Compiles advice from experts on the best way to talk with and reassure children after a scary event has happened.


Mental Health America: Helping Children Cope with Tragedy Related Anxiety
Offers advice on talking to children about tragic events. Suggestions are tailored to specific age groups.


National Association of School Psychologists
Multiple resources include a PowerPoint presentation titled “Tips for Teachers and Parents Following School and Community Violence.”


American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
A plethora of useful guides for parents and educators, including “Tips for Talking to Children about the Connecticut School Shooting” and “Restoring a Sense of Safety in the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting: Tips for Parents and Professionals.”