Friday, December 12, 2008

Sad Stories for Kids - An Orange for Frankie

I wish I remembered who suggested this book on their blog recently so I could thank them. When I read the recommendation and noted it was also one of my favorite authors - I checked it out from the library.

An Orange For Frankie is by Patricia Polacco. This is a Depression Era Christmas story. Some of Patricia's books, like this one, are based on real characters and or events in her family - something that makes a story all the more interesting. The story has a sad ending, with the young boy Frankie dying.

"Mom why do you get these books?!" My son exclaimed as I teared up reading it to them. "It's sad - I don't like sad stories." I found him reading the book again later and asked him about it - "I just don't read the sad part" he said.

So here is my question - when you are reading books to your children, do you avoid books that deal with death or other troubling events (ie. The Holocaust, wars etc.)?

Sometimes you don't know the book is going to be sad until the very end (like An Orange for Frankie). Sometimes you don't realize that it's going to be sad for the children b/c it isn't sad for you (ie. Charlotte dying in Charlotte's Web).

In general, we don't avoid talking about difficult subjects like death, the economy, serious illness and the like, with our children. Our kids (ages 6.5 and 9) are pretty observant and very inquisitive - so it doesn't seem right to avoid certain subjects.

I think REAL stories are the best stories for kids. It's one thing to read ABOUT the holocaust in a textbook - you feel more "distant" from it all - but reading a firsthand account of the holocaust written in a story book format, through the eyes of a child, it is all the more powerful and emotional and you realize that it really did happen (not that I doubt the holocaust - just using that topic as an example).

As well, REAL stories are more interesting for the parents reading the stories aloud. Even if they do make you cry.

I think this would make a good Christmas present for someone - I just wish I hadn't already finished my Christmas shopping - or I would have bought this book...

Another question - what book(s) for children always makes YOU cry?


Heather said...

LOVE Patricia Polacco, my kids do too--will have to find that book.

I am not sure about the crying bit--I don't cry often or easily (can't remember the last time I cried during a movie or book other than A Snoodles Tale but that was God working on my heart not regular crying though now that I think of it I think when I am especially hormonal Jonathan Toomey makes me cry.) My oldest would love that book--she doesn't cry from movies or books at all, my middle child is especially sensitive but would still like it and my son would probably run off--he is not into things that make him uncomfortable at all. There are certain things we don't talk about or read because the kids get squeamish and uncomfortable--for my oldest it is body stuff, my middle i is emotional stuff, youngest it is embarrassing stuff.

Niki said...

Although my kids are too young to really grasp anything really sad (17 mhts and 3) I won't avoid first hand accounts of these events. Mind you they will be a little older (10 atleast) history is far too important to avoid and people need to know what happened and understand it to avoid it happening again. I would have to say I cried like a baby during Shindlers list and the Pianist. HEartwrenching