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Using books to talk to children about family illness

By Erika Kosin
Rowan Public Library
Throughout October, the focus has been on breast cancer awareness where children of all ages hear the word cancer and learn to recognize the significance of the color pink, but many are unaware of what cancer is and how it can affect them.
In fact, most parents shelter their children from the disease until the day that they need to speak to their children about a loved one who is seriously ill, or even worse, the parent himself or herself. There is nothing to truly prepare a parent for this day, but there are books that may help parents talk to their children that deal both with the disease and the loss of a loved one. While broaching these subjects may be tricky and scary, sometimes letting children know what to expect can help them process the information and understand that it is not their fault.
Some books available at Rowan Public Library for children about cancer include:
ěMom Has Cancer!î by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos ó This short picture book explores the fear a child has when he notices something isnít right as Mom and Dad are always sad and going to the doctor. When Mom explains to her son that she has cancer and what that will mean for the family, the boy is of course scared and sad, but is able to cope with the changes happening in the home. While in the book momís cancer goes into remission, it does tell children that the doctorís visits wonít stop and that mommy can get sick again, but they should be happy that everything is OK right now.
ěMy Mommy has Cancer,î by Carolyn Stearns Parkinson ó Written by a mother of three whose youngest was only 5 when the mother was diagnosed with cancer, this book is meant to explain cancer to a very young child. The author felt that it was important to let children know that even though mommy is sick and it is a scary, sad time, it is alright for them to be happy and enjoy life.
ěNana, Whatís Cancer,î by Beverlye Hyman Fead and Tessa Mae Hamermesh ó A book of questions and answers between a 10-year-old girl and her grandmother as the girl tries to understand this illness that affects so many people. Factual and informative for children who are either curious about the disease or want to understand what a loved one is going through.
ěGood Luck, Mrs. K.!î by Louise Borden ó While family is important to children, they also feel the loss of a teacher when one is seriously ill and cannot return to the classroom. Ann loves her third-grade teacher, from her interesting name to the way she knows all of the children in her class. When Annís teacher gets sick and a substitute comes in, she is faced with a reality that sometimes illness is not fair. As the class sends their teacher letters in the hospital, the students learn about cancer and see how it can affect those around them.
ěWhen Someone Has a Very Serious Illness and When Someone Very Special Diesî from the series ěChildren Can Learn to Cope with Loss and Changeî by Marge Heegaard ó Both of these titles are set up in workbook form where parents can make copies of the pages and have children participate in the activities to help them deal with the emotions they are feeling when dealing with a serious illness or the loss of a loved one.
Computer classes: Classes are free. Sessions are approximately 90 minutes long. Class size is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Dates and times at all locations are subject to change without notice.
Headquarters ó Nov. 17, 9:30 a.m., Introduction to Excel.
South ó Nov. 14, 7 p.m., Introduction to Excel.
East (registration required for East Branch only, call Edward at 7047-216-7737) ó Nov. 15, 1 p.m., Introduction to Excel.
Childrenís Storytime: Weekly Storytime runs through Nov. 18. For more information call 704-216-8234.
Headquarters ó Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time (18- to 35-month-olds); Wednesdays, 11 a.m., Baby Time (6- to 23-month-olds); Thursdays, 10:30 a.m., Preschool Time (3- to 5-year-olds) and 4 p.m., Noodlehead (4- to 8-years-old).
South ó Mondays, 4 p.m., Noodlehead (4- to 8-years-old); Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Baby Time (6- to 23-month-olds), 1:30 p.m., Preschool Time (3- to 5-year-olds); Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time (18- to 35-month-olds).
East ó Mondays, 10:30 a.m., Baby Time (6- to 23 month-olds); Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time (18- to 35-month-olds); Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m., Preschool Time (3- to 5-year-olds).
JRís Adventure Club: Headquarters, Nov. 12, 11 a.m. Enjoy time building, exploring or discovering something new. The club is open to all school age children. Light refreshments will be served. Call 704-216-8234 to learn more.
Salisbury Symphonyís Musical Petting Zoo ó Headquarters, Nov. 15, 6 p.m., RPL Childrenís Room. RPL has a special event planned for all elementary school children sponsored by Salisbury Symphony. Members of the symphony will introduce children to the music of different instruments. Light refreshments will be served. For questions or more information, please call 704-216-8234.
Book Chat for Children:South only ó Thursday, 4:15 p.m., ěThe Mouse and the Motorcycle,î by Beverly Cleary, grades three and four. Nov. 18, 4:15 p.m., ěThe Magicianís Elephant,î by Kate Dicamillo, grades four and five. Children in grades 2-5 (different grade each month) may participate in ěBook Chats,î at South Rowan Regional Library in China Grove. Registration is required and space is limited. Please call 704-216-7728 for more information.
Teen program: All 5:30-7 p.m. Headquarters, Nov. 22; East, Nov. 21; South, Nov. 29. Free monthly programs for middle and high school students. Game day at your library provides an evening of various types of games, from board games to video games. For more information call 704-216-8234.
American Girl Club: Headquarters, Nov. 19, 11 a.m., a book discussion group about the life and times of the American Girls characters. This yearís discussion will be about Addy.
Book Bites Club: Nov. 29, 6:30 p.m., ěThe Dry Grass of August,î by Anna Jean Mayhew. Book discussion groups for adults and children are held at South Rowan Regional Library and will meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book and light refreshments at each meeting. For more information please call 704-216-8229.
November library hours ó Nov. 11, all locations closed for Veterans Day; Nov. 23, all locations close at 1 p.m.; Nov. 24-25, all locations closed for Thanksgiving.
Displays: Headquarters, Doll Society, Art Gang by Coleen Walton; South, jewelry by Esther Sims; East, holiday by Mary Earnhardt.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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