words & worlds

January 19, 2015

In a strange sort of irony today, I was asked for book recommendations to help a young one about to transition from here (home) back to the United States (parents’ home). She explained that the child’s teacher had asked her to help, after the teacher and parents had noticed some unhealthy fear that seemed to be stemming from the pending move.
I was about to do some online searches to provide inspiration, coming up blank with an off-the-top-of-my-head self-query. Then I stopped myself and wondered if, instead, I should try a potentially less-professional approach. I still don’t know if my decision was correct but it’s what I decided . . . so be it. This is what I explained:
I told the woman that I remembered my own walk through transitional grief, at around the same age as this child. Even though I had some other traumas coming into play, in addition to the move, I do vividly recall the confusion brought on by the move from the country I knew as home to a strange and unfamiliar U.S. I also recall taking comfort in the books I read. I told her that the Chronicles of Narnia had provided me with a beautiful fantasy world that I could “escape” to when reality was just too much for my young sensibilities to process. I shared how other books [such as Where the Red Fern Grows, Missing Mae, and Out of the Dust] had allowed me to identify with a grieving character, so that I could weep along with a fictional person for the very real people that I had lost. I also suggested that books such as A Little Princess and The Secret Garden may help by providing a young heroine to identify with who was dealing with similar transitions.
After talking for a bit about these titles, along with a few others, I admitted that I was probably not offering the expected sort of “therapy” titles that she had been told to look for. I know the series of board books that were marketed as such: titles listing behaviors children should avoid and attitudes they should aspire to have. I also admitted that the books I was listing were probably above the target age range, and perhaps too long to lend themselves to an easy one-time chat with a child. But I just couldn’t help being wary of overly didactic, expected types of material. I also happen to believe that high quality literature can reach a much broader age range than some people seem to think . . . and that children are able to see through a lot of conventional grown-up assumptions. So I went with my gut.
As it turns out, my gut response turned out to resonate with this woman. A mother of TCKs herself, I guess she may have observed some of the same things I had experiences. Who knows what the outcome will be for the child in question: but I like to think that the stack of books I checked out today will resonate, in some positive way, in a young one’s heart.


One Response to “words & worlds”

  1. C Barker said

    Thanks for sharing this. I definitely agree with your rec of high quality literature over canned psychological pap!

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