The Sad Book

Posted by on Oct 6, 2011 in Early Learning, Print Motivation | 0 comments

It is with deep sadness that my family said goodbye today to Leo. Leo was an affectionate, opinionated, mostly blind, mostly deaf, 18-year-old ginger cat. He was a good friend, and he will be greatly missed.

In honor of Leo and for all those who know what it’s like to be sad, this week I’m sharing Michael Rosen’s Sad Book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Quentin Blake. This beautifully thoughtful picture book works even for preschoolers and kindergartners, because it shows how sadness feels in honest, child-friendly terms. “Sometimes I want to talk about all this to someone. Like my mum…. Sometimes I don’t want to talk about it. Not to anyone…. I just want to think about it on my own. Because it’s mine. And no one else’s.”

Rosen writes about some things that help him when he feels sad: “Every day I try to do one thing I can be proud of. Then, when I go to bed, I think very, very, very hard about this one thing.” But never does Rosen downplay the truth of the emotion, or sugar-coat it, or say any other falsely cheerful things that don’t ring true to those children who do know what real sadness is. For children who’ve suffered a devastating loss, this could be just the right book.

After sharing this book, or parts of this book, with your children, look again at the first two pictures, the one where Rosen is smiling (“Maybe you think I’m happy in this picture. Really I’m sad but pretending I’m happy”) and the next page where we see how Rosen really feels, all grays and glum. Let children draw pictures of themselves, either how they feel or how they want people to see them. Talk about times when we’ve felt sad, and what helps. For Rosen, birthday cakes and candles and remembering those he loved helps. For many of us, reading a truthful, wonderful book like Michael Rosen’s Sad Book helps, too.

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