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Picture books & issues

Picture books are a wonderful resource to explain or begin discussions about difficult subjects. Last week’s post was about the personal experience my family had with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) that lead to the book, Mr. Worry: A story about OCD.  In writing, Mr. Worry, I hoped it would be a resource for families and schools. It is rewarding when I hear from a family and they tell me that upon reading the book, their child was relieved to know they were not the only one or that they read the book to a classroom and their child’s peers are now more understanding.

I cant stopI hear similar stories about I Can’t Stop: A story about Tourette Syndrome.  Tourette syndrome is another disorder that is not well understood and often, poorly portrayed in the media. Children with Tourette Syndrome are not intentionally making sounds or movements. When I talk with students about Tourette’s, I ask them if they’ve ever had a mosquito bite. Of course, all the hands go up! Mosquito bites itch. I ask them what happens when they try NOT to scratch it? That’s right, eventually you have to scratch it. That is Tourette’s. Just because a child doesn’t always have tics, doesn’t mean they are doing them intentionally. They have to do them.

I received an email from a gentleman that had Tourette Syndrome, but was not diagnosed until, as an adult, he read my picture book. He recognized himself in it and sought a diagnosis. He wonders how his life might have been if he’d had the help as a child.

At times children are frustrating to parents and teachers, but sometimes we need to step back, remove the emotions and look objectively for what might be the cause of their behavior. They deserve this because we are the adults and they were entrusted to our care.

Build a library of books that can be used to start discussion and build empathy for others. You’ll find many publisher’s lists include wonderful picture books about issues children may deal with. Here’s a link to the line of books at Albert Whitman-Issues .

Tourette Association of America

Author: Holly Niner

Holly Niner is the author of No More Noisy Nights illustrated by Guy Wolek, and The Day I Ran Away illustrated by Isabella Ongaro. She has had numerous stories published in children’s magazines, and her previous picture books were award winners. Mr. Worry: A Story about OCD, received the 2005 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities Award, and I Can’t Stop: A Story about Tourette Syndrome, was the winner of the 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award and a 2005 Bank Street College of Education Best Book. Holly lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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