Animal stories as a source of comfort for children
The following guest blog post is by children’s author Susan Keefe. The views expressed are that of the author.
It has been said that you can live many lives through a book, and this is true. They allow us to live out our dreams, visit other worlds, carry out death defying feats, however the most wonderful thing about books is they allow us to escape. It is this magical quality which makes them invaluable for children who have problems themselves, or who have relatives who are ill or dying.
This is where being an author can be so rewarding. I am a children’s book author, a mother and grandmother. I grew up in a wonderful animal filled world with parents and grandparents who encouraged my love of all animals and wildlife. I wanted to pass this on to not only my family, but others. Animals are great healers and comforters and I have sought through my writing to show children how incredible animals and the natural world can be. A wonderful place to escape to.
Therefore I was delighted, when not long after I published my first book, Toby’s Tails. I received a message from the grandmother of a boy with ASD, including ADHD. Her words affirm that my goal when writing it had been achieved.
“I have a 7 years old grandson with ASDs, including ADHD, he settles to nothing! Well, that’s no longer true, grandson loves me to tell him about Toby’s adventures, and he becomes totally absorbed in Toby’s pics! Animals and children are feared by stage and film divas, and I can see why! Looking through the eyes of Toby the Border Collie, and telling the stories from Toby’s perspective, what a wonderful way to actually reach children, even children who have difficulties with using their imagination, empathy and sympathy.”
Her words inspired me to write other books and I have been told by other parents of children with ADHD and Autism that Toby has bought joy into their lives.
Many animal books have the ability to capture and inspire children, answering their questions in an easy way, and in some the author’s focus on specific subject, but where do you start? Well below I have listed a few.
Lovely Old Lion by Julia Jarman
Truly beautifully illustrated and sensitive story about dementia. A supportive, honest, and needed explanation of Alzheimer’s-type illnesses.
Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! by Sherry North
A young boy discovers his dogs lump, which is then diagnosed with those dreaded words: Its cancer. The boy becomes a loving caretaker to his dog, who undergoes the same types of treatments and many of the same reactions as a human under similar circumstances (transference).
Pedro the Donkey by Joanna Walsh
Pedro the Donkey deals with the issue of depression and helps people to see and choose the positive side of life, rather than focusing on the negative.
God Gave Us Heaven by Lisa Tawn Bergren
This gentle story provides satisfying answers for a young child’s most difficult questions about what happens after this life.