World Book Day sees children across the globe enjoying dressing up as their favourite characters and delight in treasured tales. The aim of the day is to spread the joy of reading and how important it is as part of a child’s education. But for Beechwood, books are also an important tool for helping children through grief or a traumatic time in their lives. Maisa Garcia-Fernandez, who is a family therapist at Beechwood, tells us all about how books help her support children.
“The children that come to our service, often have many worries linked to a family member being quite unwell, either with cancer or a long term illness or the death of a loved one.
“Most of the time, they do not want to add to the family worries or upsets of their siblings, parents or extended family circle and end up bottling up all these very new and powerful feelings.
“One of the books that we use to help them with their feelings is ‘The Huge Bag of Worries’ and this, like many others, enables us to introduce another child that might have similar issues to them.
“To support the books, I have gathered a range of resources, to make it not only visual but an interactive experience including cards and games.
“We also have a Worry Warrior, an imaginary creature or contraption to help gobble up their worries, a Big Bag with Worry Monsters, which is a great way for children to ask questions anonymously if they need to and is particularly useful for discussion of a difficult or sensitive topics, ensuring that children still get the answers to questions they may not normally have the confidence to ask.
“As well as Worry Bubbles, an activity that is designed to help children let go of their worry by blowing bubbles, not only does it help the child visualise worries drifting away but also promotes deep breathing as they blow the bubbles.
“There are many benefits to working with books with children during sessions; they will more freely ask questions and hearing of other children having similar struggles makes them feel better about carrying round such a burden, making it less lonely and hopeless.
“Exploring how the worry started and how it has grown, makes it possible to begin to detach themselves from it, regaining some control over it and gradually reducing the impact that it has on them.