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Tough Conversations: Talking With Your Kids About the News

Tough Conversations

The attack on the U.S. Capitol and other recent unrest left many parents wondering how to talk to their children about what happened. It's hard to describe why such shocking violence occurred, and it can be difficult to discuss complicated topics like racism, injustice, and protests against the government that became violent. With help from some of our children's librarians, including Mary Slattery, Erica Eis, and Maddie Bassman, we've put together a list of resources to help you navigate these hard conversations.

Resources

Books About Understanding and Sharing Difficult News

Information Literacy and Fake News

Information Literacy and Fake News, by Diane Dakers
In this age of fast-paced social media, news and views are shared throughout the world in seconds. This timely title critically examines the elements of journalism, truth and perspective, sources of news, as well as bias and objectivity to help readers make informed choices about the accuracy of news and information. Readers will gain an understanding of what journalism is and how the medium can shape the message being presented.

 

Breaking the News

Breaking the News: What's Real, What's Not and Why the Difference Matters, by Robin Terry Brown
Headlines leap out at us from mobile phones, TV screens, computers, newspapers, and everywhere we turn. Technology has opened up exciting new ways to tell interesting stories, but how much of it is news ... and how much is just noise? This refreshing and up-to-date media literacy book gives kids the tools they need to distinguish what is fact from what is fiction so that they can make smart choices about what to believe.

Packed with profiles of influential journalists, fun facts, and iconic photographs, this ultimate guide to the information age will get kids thinking about their relationship and responsibility to media.

 

Understanding the News

Understanding the News, by Pamela Dell
It is more and more apparent that it is hard to tell the difference between real and fake news. If teachers flunk tests about it, how can they teach their students to understand what's what? Fake and real news items are thrown at us daily, on tv, on the internet, on the streets of our cities; everywhere we look and even when we don't think we're looking. Easy-to-understand text, simple infographics, quizzes, and lots of examples helps kids learn how to crack the code of real vs. fake news.

 

Something Bad Happened

Something Bad Happened: A Kid's Guide to Coping With Events In the News, by Dawn Huebner
When children learn about something big and bad - even when they hear only bits and pieces - their brains get busy trying to make sense of it. Where did it happen? Why did it happen? And especially, will it happen again?

Something Bad Happened guides children ages 6 to 12 and the adults who care about them through tough conversations about national and international tragedies. The non-specific term "bad thing" is used throughout, keeping this a flexible tool, and so children are never inadvertently exposed to events their parents have chosen not to share. Fear, sadness and uncertainty about the "bad thing" all are normalized, and immediately usable coping tools provided.

For children and parents to read together, this one-of-a-kind resource by child psychologist and best-selling author Dawn Huebner provides comfort, support and next steps for children learning about troubling world events.

 

Momma Did You Hear the News

Momma, Did You Hear the News?, by Sanya Whittaker Gragg
Little Avery becomes concerned after seeing another police shooting of an unarmed man. His parents decide it is time to have "The Talk". They teach him and his brother a catchy chant to help remember what to do if approached by an officer, while also emphasizing that all policemen are not bad. A to the L to the I-V-E...come home ALIVE....THAT is the key!

 

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s story about Racial Injustice

 

Something Happened In Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice, by Marianne Celano
Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children's questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.

Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues.

Free, downloadable educator materials (including discussion questions) are available at www.apa.org.


Books about Empathy, Compassion, and Mindfulness

Calm Monster Kind Monsters

Calm Monsters, Kind Monsters: A Sesame Street Guide to Mindfulness, by Karen Latchana Kenney
Breathing, positive self talk, and calming down--mindfulness includes all this and more. Sesame Street characters present big emotions readers have likely faced alongside simple solutions like belly breathing to help kids cope with what they're feeling.

 

Rabbit Listened

 

The Rabbit Listened, by Cori Doerrfeld
A moving and universal picture book about empathy and kindness, sure to soothe heartaches big and small.

When something sad happens, Taylor doesn't know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn't feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that's not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to act, and one by one they fail to offer comfort. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen . . . which is just what Taylor needs.

With its spare, poignant text and irresistibly sweet illustration, The Rabbit Listened is about how to comfort and heal the people in your life, by taking the time to carefully, lovingly, gently listen.

 

All are Welcome

 

All Are Welcome, by Alexandra Penfold
Join the call for a better world with this New York Times bestselling picture book about a school where diversity and inclusion are celebrated. Perfect for every kid, family or classroom!

In our classroom safe and sound.
Fears are lost and hope is found.


Discover a school where all young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated.

Readers will follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other's traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be.

 

The Day You Begin

The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson
There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look, talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson's lyrical text and Rafael Lopez's dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

 

Bee Still

Bee Still: An Invitation to Meditation, by Frank J. Sileo
Bentley the bee lives in a busy, bustling hive. One day, when the other bees rush out to make honey, Bentley decides to meditate first. The other animals are curious about what Bentley is doing--so he teaches them how he uses meditation to focus, feel calm, and soothe difficult feelings.

Research has indicated that meditation can assist with improving concentration and focus, calming anxiety, and reducing impulsivity. Just like adults, children can benefit from turning off electronic devices and being present to what is happening to them in the moment. Bee Still is a child-friendly introduction to meditation.


Books About Nonviolence for Adults

The Power of Nonviolence

The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace
The Power of Nonviolence, the first anthology of alternatives to war with a historical perspective, with an introduction by Howard Zinn about September 11 and the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks, presents the most salient and persuasive arguments for peace in the last 2,500 years of human history. Arranged chronologically, covering the major conflagrations in the world, The Power of Nonviolence is a compelling step forward in the study of pacifism, a timely anthology that fills a void for people looking for responses to crisis that are not based on guns or bombs.

Included are some of the most original thinkers about peace and nonviolence-Buddha, Scott Nearing, Henry David Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience," Jane Addams, William Penn on "the end of war," Dorothy Day's position on "Pacifism," Erich Fromm, and Rajendra Prasad. Supplementing these classic voices are more recent advocates of peace: Albert Camus' "Neither Victims Nor Executioners," A. J. Muste's impressive "Getting Rid of War," Martin Luther King's influential "Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam," and Arundhati Roy's "War Is Peace," plus many others.

 

We Are Power

We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changes the World, by Todd Hasak-Lowy
We Are Power brings to light the incredible individuals who have used nonviolent activism to change the world. The book explores questions such as what is nonviolent resistance and how does it work? In an age when armies are stronger than ever before, when guns seem to be everywhere, how can people confront their adversaries without resorting to violence themselves? Through key international movements as well as people such as Gandhi, Alice Paul, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Václav Havel, this book discusses the components of nonviolent resistance. It answers the question “Why nonviolence?” by showing how nonviolent movements have succeeded again and again in a variety of ways, in all sorts of places, and always in the face of overwhelming odds. The book includes endnotes, a bibliography, and an index. This is a great book for young adults.

 

His Truth is Marching On

His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope, by Jon Meacham

John Lewis, who at age twenty-five marched in Selma and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, is a visionary and a man of faith. Using intimate interviews with Lewis and his family and deep research into the history of the civil rights movement, Meacham writes of how the activist and leader was inspired by the Bible, his mother's unbreakable spirit, his sharecropper father's tireless ambition, and his teachers in nonviolence, Reverend James Lawson and Martin Luther King, Jr. A believer in hope above all else, Lewis learned from a young age that nonviolence was not only a tactic but a philosophy, a biblical imperative, and a transforming reality. At the age of four, Lewis, ambitious to become a preacher, practiced by preaching to the chickens he took care of. When his mother cooked one of the chickens, the boy refused to eat it--his first act of non-violent protest. Integral to Lewis's commitment to bettering the nation was his faith in humanity and in God, and an unshakable belief in the power of hope.

Meacham calls Lewis "as important to the founding of a modern and multiethnic twentieth- and twenty-first century America as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Samuel Adams were to the initial creation of the nation-state in the eighteenth century. He did what he did--risking limb and life to bear witness for the powerless in the face of the powerful--not in spite of America, but because of America, and not in spite of religion, but because of religion."

 

This is an Uprising

This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-First Century, by Mark Engler

There is a craft to uprising -- and this craft can change the world

From protests around climate change and immigrant rights, to Occupy, the Arab Spring, and #BlackLivesMatter, a new generation is unleashing strategic nonviolent action to shape public debate and force political change. When mass movements erupt onto our television screens, the media consistently portrays them as being spontaneous and unpredictable. Yet, in this book, Mark and Paul Engler look at the hidden art behind such outbursts of protest, examining core principles that have been used to spark and guide moments of transformative unrest.

With incisive insights from contemporary activists, as well as fresh revelations about the work of groundbreaking figures such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Gene Sharp, and Frances Fox Piven, the Englers show how people with few resources and little conventional influence are engineering the upheavals that are reshaping contemporary politics.

Nonviolence is usually seen simply as a philosophy or moral code. This Is an Uprising shows how it can instead be deployed as a method of political conflict, disruption, and escalation. It argues that if we are always taken by surprise by dramatic outbreaks of revolt, we pass up the chance to truly understand how social transformation happens.

 

Why Civil Resistance works

Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, by Erica Chenoweth

For more than a century, from 1900 to 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts in achieving their stated goals. By attracting impressive support from citizens, whose activism takes the form of protests, boycotts, civil disobedience, and other forms of nonviolent noncooperation, these efforts help separate regimes from their main sources of power and produce remarkable results, even in Iran, Burma, the Philippines, and the Palestinian Territories.

Combining statistical analysis with case studies of specific countries and territories, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan detail the factors enabling such campaigns to succeed and, sometimes, causing them to fail. They find that nonviolent resistance presents fewer obstacles to moral and physical involvement and commitment, and that higher levels of participation contribute to enhanced resilience, greater opportunities for tactical innovation and civic disruption (and therefore less incentive for a regime to maintain its status quo), and shifts in loyalty among opponents' erstwhile supporters, including members of the military establishment.

Chenoweth and Stephan conclude that successful nonviolent resistance ushers in more durable and internally peaceful democracies, which are less likely to regress into civil war. Presenting a rich, evidentiary argument, they originally and systematically compare violent and nonviolent outcomes in different historical periods and geographical contexts, debunking the myth that violence occurs because of structural and environmental factors and that it is necessary to achieve certain political goals. Instead, the authors discover, violent insurgency is rarely justifiable on strategic grounds.

Published on January 11, 2021
Last Modified December 01, 2021