So frequently throughout this conference, I have heard first-hand accounts about the difference a particular book, books in general, or libraries have impacted their lives.
This morning I attended a panel on anxiety and how literature can help children and teens to navigate mental health issues. It’s important for us as librarians to remember the power that stories can have to help us feel less alone. Children may lack the language needed to express themselves when they are experiencing anxiety or depression, but picture books and hearing stories may help them to identify and explain what they are going through. It gives caregivers and children a common language and a set of tools to deal with these complex emotions in a positive way.
Older children and teens often feel isolated by these feelings. Reading about characters who are in a similar boat helps banish this isolation and perhaps give them the confidence to share their own stories. As we’ve learned from the #metoo movement, these stories can have a domino effect that can bring about awareness and real change.
Librarians should make sure to have these kinds of books as part of their collections and should also be aware of both local and national resources and hotlines to share with caregivers, children, and teens who are experiencing mental health issues. We truly have the ability to save lives with these stories.
Christina Carpino is a children’s librarian, MLIS student at Kent State, crocheter, and coffee snob.