Emotional Discussions with Picture Books

When a difficult experience occurs in a child’s life, adults may not know where to start the conversation. Turn to works of fiction and non-fiction at the picture book level to provide a framework for the conversation.

For example, when Caroline Wright learned of her terminal illness, she was at a loss for how to explain the situation to her children. So she wrote them a picture book that spoke honestly about what was happening while sharing that they are loved. She beautifully explained how her thinking shifted and her motivation for writing this book in essays for Medium, People, and Working Mother.

Books like LASTING LOVE can be a great place to start conversations about tough topics and emotions.

Lasting Love

Lasting Love By Caroline Wright; illustrated by Willow Heath

This gorgeous picture-book meditation on loss and family love is a useful tool for children navigating a first experience with death.

When a family member or another loved one becomes ill, one of the scariest aspects of their sickness is the way they may change, both physically and in spirit. The feeling of loss can come so early as the person becomes more difficult to recognize. It's a hard thing for anyone to understand, and especially so for a child. This book offers a helpful visualization of a sick person's essence as a friendly creature who remains strong and warm, even as the illness progresses. The creature is always around and never tries to cheer the child up, but only serves to keep them company.

Caroline Wright and Willow Heath clearly understand that, like the creature, a book cannot "fix" a painful situation or even make it a little better. Instead they simply reflect the pain of loss back to the reader and help them understand that they are not alone.

Caroline Wright

Caroline Wright is an author and cook. She lives in Seattle with her husband, two kids and a terminal brain cancer diagnosis.

She was working on her third cookbook in the winter of 2017 when she was diagnosed with having a glioblastoma. She was given a year to live.

Her diagnosis brought drastic changes to her lifestyle, including the foods she cooked and ate, and brought her life and work into sharp focus – on her two little boys.

Now her days are spent cooking and writing, still passionately, while fighting her cancer and focusing on her family. She writes every day. She is primarily working on writing children’s books and a memoir about her life since her diagnosis.

More books for emotional discussions with kids!

Random House Teachers and Librarians