Materials for Dealing with Loss, Grief, and Trauma

Introduction and Project Background

Books can be wonderful tools to use with children who have experienced trauma or loss. Reading (or being read to) and talking with adults can help them understand and cope with their feelings in a developmentally appropriate way. Reading also offers a great way to spend time with a child, reinforce a sense of normalcy and security, and connect with them, all of which are important to recovery from a traumatic experience.

The Vermont Department of Libraries (VTLIB), The Barre District of the Department for Children and Families, and UVM’s the Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership (VTCWTP), have worked together to develop initiatives to create a path to healing and stability. The three agencies developed a book collection targeting grief, loss, and trauma for different age groups; 0-5, 6-12, and 12-18.

Other offerings include statewide training for librarians, kinship, foster, and adoptive parents regarding grief, loss, and trauma. The goal is for caregivers and librarians to gain a sense of increased skill as a trauma-informed caregiver/librarian in addition to caregivers and children/youth in care accessing their local libraries on the topics of grief, loss, and trauma.

In the episode Reading to Promote Healing, of the podcast Welcome to the Field (a podcast for child welfare workers) Sharon O’Neill (VT Child Welfare Training Partnership) talks to Jamie Blouin, Stephanie Reale (DCF), and Jonathan Clark (VTLIB) about using literature to help heal grief and loss with young people in foster care who often have a history of trauma. The discussion also highlights the collaborative work this group has done to make books on trauma and loss available to foster families and throughout Vermont libraries.

For or more information about this project, or contact VTLIB: Jonathan Clark (jonathan.l.clark@vermont.gov), VTCWTP: Sharon O’Neill (sharon.oneill@uvm.edu), and the Barre District Resource Coordinators: Jaime Blouin (Jaime.Blouin@vermont.gov

Overview and Guide to Using the Free Resources Available from The Vermont Department of Libraries

Dealing with Loss, Grief, and Trauma Booklist – Compiled by The Vermont Department of Libraries (VTLIB), The Barre District of the Department for Children and Families, and UVM’s the Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership (VTCWTP)

VTLIB has book sets for Dealing with Loss, Grief, and Trauma available for circulation through Clover. These book sets are organized by age range 0-5, 6-12, and 13-18- and intended for those targeted ages along with parents and caregivers. There are 5 sets available for each age range.

For libraries interested in making these books available, we recommend setting up a display with them so that patrons can see everything that is available. VTLIB is also creating informational posters to help with displaying and marketing these materials at your library.

Ages 0-5 Book-set (Each set contains one copy of each title)

Title

Author

Me and My Fear

Francesca Sanna

Still a Family: A Story about Homelessness

Brenda Reeves Sturgis

The Memory Box: A Book About Grief

Joanna Rowland

The Rabbit Listened

Cori Doerrfeld

Where do they go?

Julia Alvarez

Ages 6-12 Book-set (Each set contains one copy of each title)

 

Title

Author

Cry, Heart, But Never Break

Glenn Ringtved

Half a world Away

Cynthia Kadohata 

Prairie Evers

Ellen Airgood

Sunny Side Up

Jennifer L Holm

Train I Ride

Paul Mosier

Ages 13-18 Book-set (Each set contains one copy of each title)

Title

Author

Hey Kiddo

Jarett Krosoczca

Orbiting Jupiter

Gary D. Schmidt

Prairie Evers

Ellen Airgood

The image below shows how the book sets appear in Clover:

catalog screenshot

Other Resources and Booklists

Tips from the National Association of School Psychiatrists for using books to engage with children parents and caregivers after a tragedy or loss:

  • Let the characters and story help your child understand how to cope. Discuss ways to feel less anxious or nervous about what is happening.
  • Be willing to answer your child’s questions simply, at their level of understanding.
  • Let them know that it is normal to cry, feel scared, or want comfort during difficult times. Provide them with opportunities for that emotional closeness, as needed.
  • Remind children that you, the caregiver/parent are there for them, and that you are always willing to help them when times are difficult.
  • Use the power of ritual to help teach children how people in your family or social group remember those who have died.
  • Encourage children to identify simple plans of action to take each day to reengage in normal activities with others.
  • Help children develop simple ways to remember good things about those who have died. They might share a story, draw pictures, or remember occasions that they enjoyed with the person(s) who have died.
  • Let children know that they are loved and cared for. Reach out to other family members or close friends who could also support your children.

ALSC booklists for Tough Topics - Includes resources for young people and for parents