I recommend: Books!
Reading is something you can do alone without the help of friends or adults. Here are some treasured books I read in middle school and high school and some I’ve read recently that deal with themes of grief and loss from the point of view of a child or teen.
First, here are three of Briana’s favorite books, cited in chapter 5, (“Blue”) of “The Girl With More Than One Heart.” Each of the heroines in these books: (Francie, Frankie, and Scout in that order) share the experience of being thrust out of the innocence of childhood too soon by a crisis they have to puzzle out on their own:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.
The Member of a Wedding by Carson McCullers.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
And here are a few books I know my heroine Briana would have loved had she read them. (“The Girl With More Than One Heart” has been deemed “similar” to some of these titles by Kirkus critics and others):
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech: Salamanca Tree Hiddle is on a cross-country quest for her lost mother.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine: Caitlin Smith is on the autistic spectrum and has just experienced the loss of her older brother Devon who was killed during a school shooting.
Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Smith: Willow Chance is the genius daughter of a couple who die in a car crash. Her eccentricities prevent her from having many people she can turn to but a variety of unlikely characters come into her life as surrogate family and help her navigate her loss.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead : Four mysterious notes change Miranda’s life forever. Set on the Upper West Side, this novel takes themes of death and loss into the realm of time travel.
The Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren de Stefano: Can a machine bring back the ghost of Emmaline’s mother? And is a moment with the dead worth the loss of a memory?
Bee Season by Myla Goldberg: Caught between two parents whose obsessions have begun to cross the line into madness, a school spelling bee catapults Eliza into knowledge beyond her years.
Other People’s Houses by Lore Segal in 1938, a ten-year-old girl is put on the Kindertransport, a train carrying hundreds of Jewish children out of Austria to safety from Hitler’s oppression. A child’s eye view of the trauma of separation and loss.
I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman: Freya, Nathaniel, and Harun meet by accident. The trio end up spending a day together that changes all of their lives. Their budding friendship gives each character the strength to confront the truth about their families and themselves.
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin: Suzy’s best friend, Franny, was too strong a swimmer to have drowned. Suzy’s determined search for a different explanation for her friend’s death leads her to believe that Franny was stung by an Irukandji jellyfish. She sets out to prove her theory. The death occurs at the beginning of the novel and takes readers through the grieving process.
Try my #BeYourOwn Workshop.
Telling my dad’s stories and making them my own in “The Girl With More Than One Heart”, helped me navigate my loss after his death. To help children and teens who are struggling with grief and loss as well as those who just feel different or lonely or who are having trouble with a change in their lives, I’ve designed a series of writing prompts based on my book.
Here are a few examples from my #BeYourOwn writing workshop:
And here are 7 steps for working with these cards:
1. Read the words located in the heart aloud.
2. Think about them. What does the phrase bring to mind?
3. Have a pen and paper handy or better yet, a notebook. Jot down any thoughts the words in the heart make you think of— other words,
phrases or sentences.
4. Read the rest of the prompt on the card aloud.
5. Follow the prompt or continue to free associate to the phrase in the heart and write for 5 to 7 minutes non-stop.
6. Read what you have written aloud.
7. Select a second prompt card and repeat the process.
In the end, you may have a poem, or a story or just a record of some thoughts. You may want to go back to what you’ve written and add to it or revise it. Or you may not. You may feel like sharing what you’ve written with others. Or you may not. What matters is that you’ve written something true to your feelings in the moment, something spontaneous that came from the heart. You told a story—your story. By letting your mind travel freely and writing down where it takes you, you start to suspect that you have many stories to tell. And that knowledge—the knowledge that you have stories to tell—is power.