Books for Kids Who Have Suffered from Abuse/Trauma
Healing Days: A Guide For Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma by Susan Farber Straus, PhD (ages 6-11) – Healing Days is is a sensitive and reassuring story intended for children who have experienced trauma, covering the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that many kids have after a bad and scary thing happens. A useful book to read with a parent or therapist, Healing Days emphasizes that children are not to blame for what happened, and that they can get help and look forward to a happy future. Kids will begin to understand their response to the trauma and learn some strategies for feeling safer, more relaxed, and more confident. An online addendum is available for parents and other caregivers with additional resources.
Once I Was Very Very Scared by Chandra Ghosh Ippen (ages 5-10) – A little squirrel announces that he was once very, very, scared and finds out that he is not alone. This story was written to help children and grown-ups understand how stress can affect children and ways to help them, and to show children who have experienced abuse and trauma that there are grown-ups who can help them feel safe and learn ways to cope with difficult feelings. Once I Was Very Very Scared goes into details about the physical symptoms children experience when something scary happens, and speaks to a common emotion of kids that they don’t always get to talk about.
A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes (ages 4-8) – Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen. At first he tried to forget about it, but soon something inside him started to bother him. This gently told and tenderly illustrated story helps children who have witnessed any kind of violent or traumatic episode, including physical abuse, understand that these events are not their fault, that they can talk to adults about them, and that their feelings are normal. There is also an afterword written for parents and other caregivers offers extensive suggestions for helping traumatized children, including a list of other sources that focus on specific events.
A Foster-Adoption Story: Angela and Michael’s Journey – A Therapeutic Workbook for Traumatized Children by Regina M. Kupecky and Christine Mitchell (ages 5-11) – A Foster-Adoption Story tells the story of Angela and Michael, a brother and sister, from their abusive birth family through the foster care system to their eventual adoption. They experience abuse, neglect, multiple foster care moves and sibling separation before eventually being adopted. The workbook is designed to foster discussions about the child’s time in the foster care system, multiple moves, separation issues, loyalty issues and siblings. A useful therapeutic tool to help children process their experiences and grief along the path to healing.
Do You Have a Secret? by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos (ages 4-8) – Every child has secrets, and many secrets are fun to keep, but sometimes children have secrets that make them feel bad, and these secrets are best shared with their parents, or with some trusted older person. Foster parents can use Do You Have a Secret? to help foster kids becoming comfortable with talking about traumatic experiences such as physical or sexual abuse.
Brave Bart: A Story for Traumatized and Grieving Children by Caroline H Sheppard (ages 4-8) – A beautifully illustrated storybook about the titular Brave Bart, a kitten who had something bad, sad and scary happen to him. With the help of Helping Hannah, Brave Bart overcome his fears and become a survivor. This storybook helps to normalize trauma reactions, facilitates discussions with children about trauma and offers comfort while helping them move from victim to survivor-thinking.
When I Was Little… A Child’s Journey in Overcoming Abuse & Trauma by Keri Vellis (ages 4-10) – This book was written for children who have suffered from abuse or trauma. It tells the story of a child who struggles with emotions and learns to share difficult feelings and experiences with trusted individuals, eventually finding comfort and security in a safe and loving environment. An excellent tool for discussing difficult life experiences with young foster children.