Hard Topics to Talk About with Kids: Get Help with These New Book Bags

Posted on July 7, 2021 at 6:00 am


Some things are hard to talk about, especially if you’re trying to talk about them with kids.

Whether the conversation is about divorce, death, bullying, or some other challenging situation, parents and caregivers can wonder where to even start and how much to say.

To help parents and caregivers with these tough conversations, the Early Learning Team at the library has launched “Let’s Talk About” book bags. These bright orange bags include a curated selection of 6–10 books suitable for kids in kindergarten through 3rd grade and a resource folder that includes sample questions and answers, a list of resources, and a page of solid advice for where, when, and how to start the conversation.

Librarian Rachel Edmondson first conceived of the “Let’s Talk About” book bags last summer in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests when she was looking for civil rights titles for her own kids.

“I started to think about all of the difficult subjects that parents might struggle to talk about with their kids, like death and adoption,” says Edmondson. “That sparked the idea of a book bag collection that would make it easier for parents to find picture books on these topics and would also include tips for how to start these difficult conversations.”

There are four themes already available for checkout—Adoption, Death, Divorce, and Foster Care—with additional themes, including Race, Bullying, and Aging/Memory Loss, coming out later this summer.

You can place holds for the “Let’s Talk About” book bags from our online catalog, or you can look for them in the children’s nonfiction section of the library.

Some of the general tips in the resource folder work for a variety of issues and include such advice as “use open-ended questions to identify what the child already knows,” “be reassuring and let your child know someone is in charge,” and “remember that tough topics aren’t a one-off but an ongoing conversation.”

That last point about keeping the conversational doors open can be especially reassuring to children, who might have a lot of questions or become worried.

Librarian Cindy Ulrey points out the following in the introductory page that introduces each resource folder:

“No matter how hard we might try, we can’t completely shield children from change, grief, violence, hatred, trauma, and tragedy. Discussing tough topics keeps misunderstandings and fears from growing out of control.”

While talking about things that are confusing, sad, or complex can be uncomfortable, it can also be an opportunity for deeper parent-child bonding and/or a chance for the entire family to grow.

Ulrey also shares: “As caring adults who have the best interests of kids as our focus, we have to tackle difficult conversations head-on and reassure the children in our care that we can be trusted to tell them the truth and provide them with support.”

If you’re facing a difficult talk with the children in your life, consider checking out a “Let’s Talk About” book bag as a way to get started.

Sheri Boggs

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