Here are three children’s books to help them deal with anxiety, stress

JENNIFER BAER

One of the most influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages, Maimonides (also referred to by the acronym Rambam), instructs us that “the soul is subject to health and disease, just as is the body.”  A friend once told me that we are only as happy as our least happy child. So many of us are watching as our kids try to navigate the world around them during a time when everything normal is now strange or even dangerous. Learning how to talk about and deal with anxiety or other emotions is crucial — at any age, and hopefully these PJ Library/PJ Our Way books can help start those important conversations.


“Naamah and the Ark at Night”

By Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Illustrated by Holly Meade

Ages: 18 months – 4 years old

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Synopsis: In this lyrical picture book, readers are introduced to Naamah, Noah’s wife, who plays a crucial role in managing and assisting Noah with the ark. When the people and animals aboard the ark have difficulties falling asleep, Naamah sings to each passenger, bringing peace and comfort to all. Young children will easily relate to this all too common occurrence of “bedtime problems.” Not only will children love naming the animals on the ark, but they will adore joining Naamah as she soothes and sings bedtime prayers to the large and ferocious, as well as the small and cuddly, animals of the ark.


“Say Hello, Lily”

Written by Deborah Lakritz; Illustrated by Martha Aviles 

Ages: 4 to 5 Years

Synopsis: Lily wants to accompany her mother on visits as she volunteers at Shalom House, an assisted-living facility. Social anxiety can be especially hard when you’re a little kid, and sometimes having a job to do can help. In Lily’s case, she and her mother are fulfilling an important mitzvah (commandment or good deed)—v’hadarta p’nei zaken, showing respect and care for the elderly.


“When the Hurricane Came”

By Nechama Liss-Levinson

Ages: 9 plus

Synopsis: Before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, 9-year-old Gertie, her mom and her brother went to stay with Gertie’s Aunt Charlene and Uncle Mike until the danger passed. When they left their home, they had no idea that they would never see it again! Gertie tries hard to adjust to a new school and new friends in Memphis, and to come to terms with losing her home and possessions. She also really misses her dad, who stayed behind to serve as a doctor in the devastated city. When Gertie returns to New Orleans, she has a better understanding of what is important in life, which transforms her experience of loss into one of determination to repair and rebuild her home.


To register to receive free books from PJ Library for kids birth through 8 1/2, go to www.pjlibrary.org and for kids 8 1/2 through 12 years, go to www.pjourway.org to sign up.

Jennifer Baer works as the Director of Family and Teen Engagement at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years. Born in Memphis, Tenn., she holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Texas in Austin and a master’s degree in social work from Washington University.