family: 2 Articles

Coping with Grief and Loss: An Interview Remembering Ethan’s Author

Magination Press recently interviewed author Lesléa Newman, about her experience writing Remembering Ethan, a book about how a family copes with grief and loss. Remembering Ethan was illustrated by Tracy Bishop. Children reading the book may realize that they are not the only ones who have ever lost a sibling and there is comfort in that. Magination Press: You are a beloved and award-winning writer who sometimes tackles tough or groundbreaking—even sometimes controversial—topics in your books for children. How do you find your topics?  Lesléa Newman: There is no lack of topics, considering the world in which we live is full of joy and sorrow. I look around and wait for something to tug at my heart. MP: What inspired you to write Remembering Ethan? LN: I was inspired by three things: There was a list, composed  by librarians, of topics that weren’t being covered in picture books. Death of a sibling was one of those topics.  I have a friend whose very young daughter died. She said the hardest thing, among many hard things, was telling her son that his sister wasn’t coming home from the hospital. The character Sarah was inspired by Judy Shepard, who works tirelessly to make sure her son Matthew, who was murdered in 1998, will never be forgotten. MP: What is Remembering Ethan about? LN: The book is about grief and how one family unites to remember and mourn a tremendous loss. MP:  What have reader responses been?  LN:  Tears. Lots and lots of tears. MP:  What was unexpected about the writing process? LN:  I didn’t expect the character of Ethan, who died before the book begins, to come alive as much as he did on the page. MP:  How do you see Remembering Ethan being useful to kids? LN:  I think the book can comfort a child going through the same situation. Children reading the book may realize that they are not the only ones who have ever lost a sibling and there is comfort in that.  MP:  What did the illustrator bring to the story that brought depth or unexpected insights into your story? LN:  The illustrator, Tracy Bishop, did such a beautiful job! I especially appreciate how Sarah is wearing Ethan’s watch throughout the story. That keeps him close to her. I can almost hear the ticking of the watch as similar to the beating of a heart. MP:  Do you have a favorite part of Remembering Ethan or was there a section that was especially challenging to write? LN:  Handling Ethan’s death was particularly difficult. I spent a long time thinking about the way he died, and then decided not to be specific about that. My favorite part of the book is the next to last page when the family is all sitting together, remembering, feeling their sadness, and offering each other comfort. MP:  Was Remembering Ethan your first book to be vetted by a psychologist? If so, what was that process like for you? LN:  I believe it

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Coping with Grief and Loss: An Interview Remembering Ethan’s Author 2020-07-28T14:25:46-04:00

When Memories Start to Fail: Four Ways to Help Children Cope with Dementia in Loved Ones

Families savor happy memories. Cooking together, singing, reading, telling stories, hosting family gatherings—all of these experiences can create lovely memories. A child who gets to spend time with a beloved grandparent or other senior often develops a special connection with that person. Along with those special memories and connections also come the challenging realities of aging. How do children respond to grandparents or other seniors who may begin to experience memory loss, and where do children have opportunities to share and discuss their confusion, worries, and feelings? Magination Press book, My Singing Nana, by Pat Mora, explores a child’s experience as his grandmother begins to lose her memory. The note to parents provides some strategies to help a child understand and cope with a loved one’s developing dementia. Be truthful with children. Share age appropriate information. In the story, Billy and his grandmother, Nana, have a special bond. They bake, read, and sing together. When Nana begins to have trouble remembering things, Billy is worried. His mother explains that Nana does have trouble remembering things, and that she took Nana to the doctor. The doctor said that Nana sometimes needs their help. Billy’s mother answers his questions and assures him that he and Nana can still do the things they like to do together. Encourage children to share their worries with their parents and other trusted family members or teachers. Children’s questions provide clues about appropriate issues to address with a child and his or her level of understanding. In the story, Billy’s mother notices that he is worried and asks him what is the matter. She listens to his concerns about Nana and answers his questions. Remind children to be polite and patient with their family members. When a loved one exhibits memory loss, a child might not know how to react. Billy’s mother explains that Nana needs their help. When his Nana can’t remember things, Billy and his siblings gently remind her. Model loving, thoughtful behavior that strengthens family bonds. Showing a child that, even though a loved one may be struggling to remember things, including him or her in family experiences sends a powerful message of love and support. In the story, although Nana is beginning to experience the early stages of dementia, her family continues to include her in their daily routines. Billy even figures out a way to draw on his special connection with Nana to include her in a family event by singing with her. Coping with the challenges of aging is difficult for all family members, children and parents alike. Being honest about what is happening, encouraging discussion and expression of feelings, and modeling and encouraging loving support and care can help your child through this process. This article is an exclusive partial excerpt from My Singing Nana by Pat Mora, published by Magination Press.

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When Memories Start to Fail: Four Ways to Help Children Cope with Dementia in Loved Ones 2019-10-24T21:50:44-04:00