Between the Lines – March 2019

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Picture Books Offer Ways to Help Children Deal with Anxiety

    More and more we read about heightened levels of anxiety among children. While adults can read self-help books to understand the issues, young kids can’t. Picture books can often serve as an age-appropriate source of self-help.
    In picture books, children can find characters overcoming challenges similar to their own. These connections to fictional characters can be powerful, transformative even.
     Ben and the Scaredy-Dog by Sarah Ellis (Pajama Press, $17.95) addresses a fear that many of us remember vividly: dogs. Ellis and illustrator Kim LaFave perfectly capture the boy’s fear and his keen desire to overcome it. Ben’s journey to get past his dread of canines is realistic, sweet and humorous. The same duo has another helpful and winsome book starring Ben called Ben Says Goodbye, this one dealing with losing a friend who moves away. 
    Award-winning author and illustrator Francesca Sanna’s newest book, Me and My Fear (Flying Eye Books, $17.95) deals with another common source of childhood anxiety: moving and starting at a new school. The main character has just moved to this country, so there are cultural differences that make her feel misunderstood and alone, too. 
    Holly McGhee handles general overall anxiety in Come With Me (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $17.99). In reaction to the endless barrage of negative and scary news, McGhee has her main character consider what she can do to make the world a better place. Her parents model the idea of taking steps, literally. Illustrator Pascal Lemaitre shows the bi-racial family going out in the world, showing bravery and kindness one step at a time.
    Mariam Gates has written several books for children about yoga and mindfulness. Her newest is called Breathe With Me: Using Breath to Feel Strong, Calm, and Happy (Sounds True, $17.95). Paired with Sarah Jane Hinder’s very appealing illustrations, she gives terrific ideas for using breathing as an everyday tool that every kid can use.
    She writes “You will breathe 25,000 times today and that is healthy for you. But do you know what else your breath can do? One deep breath in and one long breath out can make you feel better too!” A great reminder for all of us, regardless of age.

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