Using Literature to Help Kids Cope in an Uncertain World

New Haven, Conn. — Every child experiences fear—ordinary fears of the dark, of separation, of nighttime noises, and fears set off by traumatic events—school shootings, terrorism, war, and natural disasters. Children’s literature can help children handle emotions that might otherwise be overwhelming.

Some of England and North America’s most distinguished children’s authors and child development experts will explore this issue at, “Fear and Fiction: The Power Of Children’s Books And The Inner Life of The Child,” on Saturday, October 21, 2006. Co-sponsored by the Yale Child Study Center and London’s Anna Freud Centre and held at Bank Street College, this New York City conference addresses the healing role books can play in children’s lives.

While it’s not clear that today’s children face more fears than kids did fifty years ago, it is apparent that the Internet and 24-hour news coverage expose them to many violent and disturbing situations.

“As a society we’re more aware of the impact world events can have. Dealing with children’s fears through dialogue, literature, storytelling, or play is healthier than ignoring or quashing them,” explains Linda C. Mayes, M.D., Arnold Gesell professor of child psychiatry, pediatrics, and psychology, Yale Child Study Center/Anna Freud Centre. “Literature helps us understand our struggle as human beings. Stories are part of the way we learn, and children’s authors bring ‘art’ to the discussion.”

Keynote speakers will be Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, and Stephen Marans, Ph.D., director, National Center for Children Exposed to Violence and author of Listening to Fear: Helping Kids Cope from Nightmares to the Nightly News.

Authors presenting, including Newbery, Hugo and ALA Notable Book award winners, are: David Almond, Chris Crutcher, Neil Gaiman, Robie H. Harris, Lois Lowry, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Martin Waddell, Mo Willems, and Jacqueline Woodson. Child analysts presenting are: Nick Midgely, D. Psych. and Jenny Stoker, MA, Anna Freud Centre; Judith Yanof, M.D, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute; Alicia F. Lieberman, Ph.D., University of California at San Francisco; Karen Gilmore, M.D., Columbia University; and Arietta Slade, Ph.D., City University of New York. Books discussed will range from picture books to fiction for adolescents.

Participants can meet the authors at a book signing sponsored by Bank Street Bookstore.

Information courtesy of Raab Associates.