by Lory Britain, Ph.D.
Feature Story 1
Grief. It's hard to understand and hard to explain, even for adults. But it's even more difficult for children, especially the very young. That's why Parenting Press turned to a team already experienced with difficult topics for its preschool book on grief, My Grandma Died: A Child's Story about Grief and Loss.
Author Lory Britain, a veteran early childhood educator, had already written It's MY Body and Loving Touches — A Book for Children About Positive, Caring Kinds of Touching for Parenting Press. Carol Deach, who works both in illustration and in special education, created the drawings for My Grandma Died Deach also illustrated both of Dr. Britain's earlier books and two other Press titles, the parent guide that accompanies It's MY Body and Something Happened and I'm Scared to Tell.
A runaway success when first published, It's MY Body has outsold every other Parenting Press title. It sold 60,000 copies in the first two years after its appearance in 1982 and continues to sell about 5,000 a year–plus the copies sold in Spanish, Japanese, Norwegian, Icelandic and German. Its well-received emphasis on self-reliance and open communication is reiterated in My Grandma Died, which acknowledges the many–and confusing–emotions a preschooler experiences upon the death of a grandparent.
"Young children need to be able to identify and accept their feelings as they grieve," points out Dr. Britain. "And parents need to be able to accept that their children have such myriad emotions."
Adds Deach, "Too often parents say nothing when there's a death, making the experience even more frightening to children."
That's because parents–and often, teachers–don't know what to say, agree both women. This book, they believe, will help parents introduce an awkward topic. It also shows how the parents and young child work through their grief; they discuss what they have lost and different ways to remember the relative who has died. In just a few lines of text with each image, the story explores grief in an honest, nonjudgmental way. Dr. Britain presents death and grief as a natural, if sad, part of life. Deach's child is carefully drawn to not be gender-specific, so both boys and girls can identify with the story.
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