ERIC Identifier: ED457525
Publication Date: 2001-12-00
Author: Lu, Mei-Yu
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading
English and Communication Bloomington IN.
Children's Literature in a Time of National Tragedy. ERIC
While America recovers from the tragic events of September 11th, 2001,
parents and educators are seeking assistance to help children cope with the
impact of this national tragedy. This Digest is intended to guide parents and
teachers in helping children deal with this issue through the use of literature.
It begins with suggestions, guidelines, and strategies which parents and
teachers can use to help children deal with this tragedy, and it discusses the
role of literature in helping children at a time of national disaster. The
second part of this Digest offers resources intended to help children understand
and appreciate cultural differences through the use of literature, as well as to
provide materials that will help children cope with stresses in their lives and
in particular, the events that took place on September 11th, 2001.
SUGGESTIONS TO HELP CHILDREN DEAL AND HEAL
suggestions for parents and educators will help children deal with the national
tragedy. They were developed by adopting recommendations from the following
organizations: the National Association of School Psychologists (2001), the
National Education Association (2001), and the National Mental Health
* Give assurance and support, but be open and honest with children. While
adults want to help children ease anxiety, false promises, such as "it won't
happen to us" will not help children. Instead, adults should let children know
that disasters such as that which occurred on September 11 are rare, and that
adults work hard to protect them. Spend time with your child-ren and stay close
to them, especially the younger children.
* Allow children time and provide activities for them to express their
feelings. While different children may exhibit a broad range of reactions to the
events of September 11th, they all need a variety of channels through which to
express their feelings. Encourage children to express their feelings concern-ing
the events using such methods and media as storytelling, drawing, writing,
sculpting, singing, plays, or puppet shows. Allow children time to reflect upon
and share their feelings.
* Be patient with children's possible regressive behavior. Traumatic events
may cause some children to exhibit regressive behaviors, which they had outgrown
long ago. Adults need to be understanding and try to find outlets for children
to express their feelings. These behaviors are usually temporary, lasting for
only a few days or a couple of weeks. If the regressive behaviors persist, and
children exhibit excessive anxiety, contact the school's psychologist, social
worker, or counselor.
* Monitor media exposure. While adults may want to closely monitor the
unfolding of events, children of primary grades or younger may be frightened by
the news footage. So, consider monitoring the amount and degree of media
exposure. Adults may watch the news with older children, then discuss the
events, and listen as they express their feelings.
* Resume daily routine as soon as possible. Routines give children a sense of
security and help them to regain order in their life.
MORE RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS: GUIDELINES AND
Coping with a National Tragedy
http://www.nasponline.org/NEAT/crisis_0911.html From the National Association of
School Psychologists (NASP). NASP provides resources that offer useful
information on what to look for in children, what to say, and how adults can
help. Current topics addressed include coping with terrorism, promoting
tolerance, recognizing severe trauma reaction, managing anger and other strong
emotions, preventing suicide, school memorials, children and war, and helping
children with special needs cope. Some handouts are translated into other
Crisis Communications: Guide and Toolkit http://www.nea.org/crisis/ From the
National Education Association. This Guide and Toolkit provides resources to
empower those facing crises and to guide their school communities toward hope,
healing, and renewal.
Resources for Children and Their Parents and Educators Dealing with the
Tragic Events of September 11, 2001
http://www.ala.org/alsc/dealing_with_tragedy.html From the American Library
Association. This site provides a compilation of materials to aid parents,
teachers, and caregivers who wish to discuss with children and teens the
terrorist attacks on Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Teaching Students about Terrorism and Related Resources
Current_Events/tragedy.html In light of recent events, AskERIC has compiled a
list of resources for educators and parents to help students cope with and
discuss this tragedy.
WHAT CHILDREN'S LITERATURE CAN OFFER US
While we learn
about the individuals who are responsible for the September 11th tragic events,
we need to help children understand that it is not appropriate to make
assumptions and use labels about a group of people based on their race,
ethnicity, religious back-ground, or national origin (NAEYC, 2001). Children's
literature offers an avenue to help children develop understanding of people of
different backgrounds, as well as deal with tragedies and stressful situations.
Resources in this section provide information on selecting and using literature
to help children cope with personal and social issues, develop positive and
accurate attitudes toward people of different backgrounds, and express their
feelings regarding this national tragedy.
Using Literature to Help Children Cope with Problems. ERIC Digest
http://eric.indiana.edu/www/digbib/digprint.cgi?filename=d148.txt By Wei Tu,
from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication. This digest
provides information on the role of literature in helping children deal with
personal and social issues, as well as offers suggestions, criteria, and
resources for parents and educators for selecting appropriate literature to help
children cope with problems they encounter in their lives.
Multicultural Children's Literature in Elementary Classrooms
http://eric.indiana.edu/www/digbib/digprint.cgi?filename=d133. txt By Mei-Yu Lu,
from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication. This digest
provides information on the importance of multicultural literature in children's
development, as well as offers guidelines and resources for teachers and parents
to select appropriate multicultural literature for children.
Our Heroes by Edinger and Terpening Houses
http://www.dalton.org/ms/4th/heroes/index.html From Edinger House at The Dalton
School, New York. This site provides examples of how teachers can integrate into
their curriculum the events of September 11th. As part of a class project, the
children in a 4th grade class were asked to draw and to write a paragraph
explaining their definitions of heroes. They were also asked to give examples
from real life in response to their study of E. B. White's Charlotte's Web.
BIBLIOGRAPHIES AND MATERIALS FOR CHILDREN
quality multicultural literature helps children appreciate the idiosyncrasies of
other ethnic groups, eliminate cultural ethnocentrism, and develop multiple
perspectives. In this section, a list of resources related to people of Islamic
faith and from the Arabic world is selected. With this information, we hope to
help children develop an accurate and realistic understanding of Muslim culture
and people from the Arabic World, instead of generating stereotypes based on a
small group of people who are responsible for the national tragedy. In addition,
a list of materials that help children deal with the tragic events is included.
MATERIALS THAT HELP CHILDREN UNDERSTAND ISLAMIC CULTURE AND THE ARABIC WORLD
Among the multicultural children's literature published each
year in the United States, materials on and about the Arabic world and Islamic
culture have been underrepresented (Lems, 1999). Although famous Arabic Nights
tales, such as Aladdin, have gained popularity in America, little information is
available on the daily life of the Arabic and the Islamic people in children's
literature (Lems, 1999). Dowd (1992) stresses the values of literature in
helping children develop an accurate understanding of people from other
cultures, and she argues that "from reading, hearing, and using culturally
diverse materials, young people learn that beneath surface differences of color,
culture or ethnicity, all people experience universal feelings of love, sadness,
self-worth, justice and kindness (p. 220)." It is therefore, important that
children have access to quality literature that provides an authentic and
positive portrayal of the Arabic World and Islamic culture. In the following
section, we provide websites that collect and link to such information. Parents
and educators can make use of these materials to read along with the children at
home and in school.
Information and Stories about Islam and Muslims
http://www.acpl.lib.in.us/Childrens_Services/islam.html Compiled by the Allen
County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana. This website provides an extensive
list of books and links which address Islamic Culture.
The Arab World and Arab Americans http://www.ala.org/BookLinks/v09/arab.html
By Kristin Lems, from Book Links, November 1999 9 (2). This article provides an
excellent annotated bibliography (picture books, folktales, poetry, fiction, and
nonfiction) of children's literature set in Arabic countries. It also includes a
fine bibliography and materials that address Arab Americans and their culture.
Afghanistan for Kids http://www.public.asu.edu/~apnilsen/afghanistan4kids/ By
Don & Alleen P. Nilsen at Arizona State University. The Nilsen's lived with
their three children in Kabul between 1967 and 1969. This site is intended for
use by adults and children who want to learn about aspects of Afghanistan, such
as its food, stories, and clothing.
MATERIALS THAT HELP CHILDREN DEAL AND HEAL
this section are intended to help children cope with their personal and social
lives, focusing on the national tragedy.
Recommended books for children, parents and caregivers
http://www.hclib.org/pub/reader2reader/coping.html From Hennepin County Library,
Minnetonka, Minnesota. For those concerned about talking to children regarding
the national tragedy on September 11th. This site offers books, videos and web
sites as resources.
Books on Tragedy, Trauma, and Loss
http://www.cbcbooks.org/html/cbc_booklist.html From the Children's Book Council,
in cooperation with the Council's member publishers. Provides a list of books
which parents and teachers can use to help children deal with the tragedy,
trauma, and loss resulting from the September 11th events.
Coping With Violence http://www.ala.org/BookLinks/v09/violence.html By Sally
Driscoll from Book Links, September 1999 v9 n1. Provides an annotated list of
books (K-12) for helping children deal with violence.
Dowd, F. S. (1992). Evaluating children's books
portraying Native American and Asian cultures. Childhood Education, 68 (4),
219-224. [EJ 450 537]
Lems, K. (1999). The Arab World and Arab Americans. Book Links, 9 (2), 31-39.
National Association for the Education of Young Children: Helping Children
Cope with Disaster http://www.naeyc.org/coping_with_disaster.htm
National Association for School Psychologists: Coping with a National Tragedy
National Mental Health Association: Coping Resources
National Education Association: Helping children cope with national tragedy