Alicia D Williams
Tackling Difficult Topics in MG
As a teacher, I've seen students suffer through heartbreaking events, devastating tragedies, and moments that would make adults question "why in the world?" Yet, children somehow are resilient and keep on living . . . well, most of them. Sadly, depression, anxiety, and suicide rates steadily climb.
It always boggles my mind when teachers refuse to tackle difficult subjects saying, "They are (students) too young. They're just not ready." To me, what this says is that perhaps delving into these topics are out of the comfort zone of the teacher--they're not ready.
But let's just say, young students aren't ready. My question then is "when will they be?"
As a teaching artist, I completed residencies at Title I schools and even more prosperous ones. And, I'll tell you that economic status doesn't exempt a child from experiencing difficulty. From a 3rd grade foster child being totally ignored by mom on the one day she gets visitation (visitations were at the school only) to a 4th grade little guy who had a face disfigurement which prevented facial expressions to a 3rd grade girl living in a shelter who also watched her brother be gunned down and killed--kids experience terrible events.
One way that educators might ease the conversation is through literature. I'm proud to announce that Genesis Begins Again was listed in the Washington Post's article Three Children's Authors on the importance of Tough Topics in Young People's Literature. The article references many great titles and I'm sure you'll find one to suit the needs of your students.
Here's a sneak peak of one category. :)