Sunday, September 17, 2006

Life Through Picture Books—Robin

So, I had a rough week. My mother-in-law passed away and I found myself having to explain to my four-year old what dying means. Before I had the “big talk” I decided to look for some picture books that would help me, because, let’s face it, I had no idea what to say.

Jay and a few of the wonderful librarians at our local library furiously put together a collection of books for me to look over. What I found was that the books on dying were very specific, i.e. books on the death of a grandfather or a Labrador retriever or a Siamese cat. Nothing on adorable grandmothers from South Carolina!

But I did take the advice at the back of one of the books that said ‘only answer the questions they have and keep it simple.’
Which I did. My son’s eyes got big and he said, “Oh.”
Whew. So I guess the questions will come later.
And, I realized, so will many more questions about the complex events in life and, I also realized, I’m not prepared!!

So I’d like to turn this problem over you, my writing friends, and ask you to get writing some picture books that will help me deal with all of my son’s questions in the future.
Here are just some of the many topics I need you all to get busy on:

• Why winning isn’t the goal, it’s just having fun, even though winning is fun.
• Why you should share everything with your friends, except for your toothbrush.
• Why you can’t say those four letter words, even though mommy likes them very, very much.
• Why your parents will never, ever let you drive a car.
• Why you can’t have any of those “adult drinks” that make them giggle and wake up with headaches.
• Why your first girlfriend will inevitably break your heart…I don’t know why…but she will…and you’ll never forget her.



Becky Levine said...


A few years ago, when my son was about 3 or 4, our cat died. Obviously, its not the same as a grandparent, but it was still hard, and I went through the same book search you did. As you say, everything was so specific and many of them had more religion than I was comfortable with.

Surprise--the "best" book I found on the subject & one I think we did use, was Mr. Rogers' book on death. I'm not a huge fan--I spent an entire summer closed captioning episodes of his show, so I wasn't exactly jumping to go back there, but I checked it out from the library. I'll tell you, it was just very simple, but it sort of hit on all the big thoughts and the big fears and gave me space to add what I felt my son needed.

Good luck--this is a biggie!


Anonymous said...

So sorry about your mother in law.
Those are some pretty heavy topics.. says the mother of 3 driving and 1 almost 16 son!!

There is no really easy way to explain really difficult things.

Jen Robinson said...

There is a great picture book on this subject called "This Book Is for All Kids, but Especially My Sister Libby. Libby Died." by Jack Simon (age 5, and illustrated by Annette Simon). It's basically a capturing of Jack's thoughts after his sister died. I highly recommend it.

Disco Mermaids said...

Thanks for the advice you guys! Both of those books mentioned sound great. I'll check it out.

Anonymous said...

I believe Maria Shriver wrote a book about losing a grandparent - specifically written for children - though I don't know if it is in pb format.

Debby G. said...

No books to suggest, but I'm sorry about your mother-in-law.

Anonymous said...

Robin, I, too, am sorry to hear about your mother-in-law and I fear I'm about to face a similar situation with my grandmother-in-law and my 7-year-old, so any suggestions you have would be great. However, I want to make a suggestion for those who have started writing books based on your list of suggestions: see "Little Miss Sunshine" - it is all about winning!!!!! Lamy

Disco Mermaids said...

Thanks, Amy. I wish I could give you advice. It's such a hard thing, isn't it!? I hope it works out well for you guys.
I'll be thinking of you and your family.

andracill said...

Hi, Robin (I'm also Robin)...I got here through Verla's boards, but I just wanted to let you know that I did write a pb on death...not published yet, though (don't know if it will be, even). When a family friend died last Christmas, we had the same questions. If you can't find anything else you like and are interested in reading the text, I'd be happy to send it to you. Jay (or you) can PM me on Verla's -- I'm andracill. So sorry about your loss!