Reading Sad, Dark Books to Children

Jill Eisenberg, a literacy expert, wrote a post on the Lee & Low blog this week, called “Why I Love to Read Sad and Dark Books to Children (And You Should Too).”

Some people believe children should be protected in a bubble from the harsher parts of life. But the reality is that many, many children, both here in the U.S. and around the world, experience trauma and tragedy.  Those who don’t will nonetheless encounter challenges sometime in their lives.

Eisenberg acknowledges the popularity and value of light and humorous stories for kids but makes the case for not excluding heavier subjects from what we read to children:

Using books with dark themes or settings in the classroom can give students the language to express their emotions, models for how to discuss and engage on these topics with adults and peers, and a safe space to explore difficult topics. When students read about characters struggling with abuse, bullying, or poverty, they also see how the characters found strength and resources to cope and thrive.

Check out her full post here. She also shares questions to ask when selecting sad or dark books, as well as recommended titles.* I’ve only read one of her suggestions, so I’ll be checking some of the others out soon.


*Given where the article was posted, Eisenberg’s recommendations are all from Lee & Low, a publishing company that focuses on diverse children’s books.

4 thoughts on “Reading Sad, Dark Books to Children

  1. So glad Stacy Jensen shared this on the 12×12 FB page, Kara…I’m so happy to read this. It is so important to let picture books help us address these difficult topics with young children. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s