Children's literature, although meant for the children, can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Reading offers an opportunity for communication and opens the door to learning about a child’s thought process. Children will be able to relate to characters in stories and learn to cope with their own emotions. “Real life does indeed call for real books: books that provide information, comfort, and models for coping with life’s difficult times” (Crawford & Roberts, 2008, p.8). Literature can help students address their feelings while developing socially and emotionally. In order to help students, develop emotionally, they should be offered opportunities to choose what they want to read, be exposed to non-traditional literature, and engage in meaningful discussions about literature. “Children’s literature is the tool necessary to assist children through personal tribulations” (Lowe, 2009, p.2). Creating meaningful experiences during reading will help student development and growth.
What is Stress and Anxiety? What are Coping Skills?
The development of stress and anxiety in children calls for the need to develop coping skills. “Stressful life experiences are so much a part of the fabric of children’s lives that it is necessary to think of the school environment as a healing environment, the classroom as an island of healing” (De Chiara & McNamee, 1996, p.15). Children are not born with the social and emotional skills they will need to work through traumatic events or difficult situations in their lives. Therefore, the development of coping skills is necessary. Children experience many things in life which, may cause stress or anxiety. Some examples of traumatic events children may experience include death, divorce, abuse, neglect, child displacement, parent deployment, school life, and world events. All of these events have major impact on children’s daily lives. Some children become anxious, nervous, worried, or stressed which, ultimately affects their behavior in school and at home.
Using Children's Literature to Talk about Stress, Anxiety, and Coping Skills Children
Children face many challenges in their daily lives which, may cause stress or anxiety. When children are able to see themselves in books, they develop new perspectives which, is why bibliotherapy can help children. Bibliotherapy uses literature to help children understand specific difficult experiences or their own personal experiences (Mankiw & Strasser, 2013). There are many benefits to using children’s literature including, relation to real life experiences of the child, understanding of emotions, development of problem-solving skills and coping skills. Subjects which may be hard to talk about, also called “tender topics” may include the following, bullying, disabilities, family diversity, homelessness, and incarceration (Mankiw & Strasser, 2013). High-quality children’s literature can be used to inform, to comfort, or to model coping strategies to children (Crawford & Roberts, 2008). It is important for students to learn how to cope with stress and emotions which, occur due to difficult circumstances. “It is essential for children to learn the coping skills needed to successfully handle the distress, frustration, and anger that are a part of daily life and to emerge with a sense of self-control, hope, and resilience” (Crawford & Roberts, 2008, p.2). Choosing appropriate literature is beneficial for the social-emotional lives of students because they have the chance to discuss difficult circumstances (Crawford& Roberts,2008).
References Crawford, P., Roberts, S. (2008). Real life calls for real books: Literature to help children cope with family stressors. Beyond the Journal Young Children, 63(5), 1-8.
De Chiara, E., McNamee, A.S. (1996). Inviting stories to help young children cope with stressful life experiences. Education Resources Information Center Archive, 1-37.
Lowe, D.F. (2009). Helping children cope through literature. Forum of Public Policy Online, 2009(1), 1-13.
Mankiw, S., Strasser, J. (2013). Tender topics: Exploring Sensitive Issues with Pre-K through First Grade Children through Read-Alouds. Young Children, 68(1), 84-89.