Sometimes the unthinkable happens. In Aurora, Colorado, someone came into a movie theater and began shooting innocent people. Twelve people were killed, fifty-eight more were wounded. All of us are horrified by the random violence.
What do we tell our children when these tragedies occur? We shield them as much as we can, but too often our kids overhear more than we’d like. How do we find the words that can make sense of the senseless?
I turned to my wise author/illustrator friend, Jean Gralley, for advice. She wrote what one reviewer called, “perhaps the best ‘crisis’ book ever published” for children: The Moon Came Down on Milk Street.
“Bad things happen in this world,” Jean wrote. “We know it; kids know it, too. When adults side-step a necessary conversation about this, lie about it or pretend it isn’t so, children realize we are being untruthful and our discomfort only adds to their anxiety. (After September 11) I instantly wanted to write and illustrate a picture book that allows adults and children a point of view and a 'way in' to that conversation."
In this simple story an unnatural event gently takes place: the moon slowly, softly falls out of the sky onto a city street and the narrator asks: “Who will make this right again?” Various voices answer: “I will!” and “We will!” As the story continues, we watch the many helpers inventively and imaginatively repair the moon and set it back in the night sky.
Kids will worry during times of natural disasters and emergencies of all kinds. They worry about things that have happened and haven’t happened yet. It's important we take the first steps and let them know we’re ready to listen to their thoughts, questions, feelings and what makes them afraid. The Moon Came Down on Milk Street provides a way to enter that conversation. It also redirects the focus: "yes, bad things sometimes happen. But look at all the good people coming together to make it better.”
Snuggle your children close and share The Moon Came Down on Milk Street. Talk about who came to help in the story: the doctors, nurses, fire chief, fire fighters and volunteers. Talk about who we count on in our own lives when we need help. We can focus on the one who committed an unimaginable crime, or we can be awed by the many who ran to stop the one, who helped those in need, and the brave heroes who put themselves in harm’s way to shield others.
For more information about Jean Gralley, please visit: www.jeangralley.com.
For more great books and activities for kids, please visit kristenremenar.com.