Grappling with Death and Loss through Children’s Literature in the Social Studies
Brad M. Maguth
The University of Akron
Western Reserve Local Schools
Faith R. Smith
Wonder World Child Development Center
All too often tragedy and disaster strike the world around us, and when they do, people often are left speechless and powerless. In schools, there is no subject as uniquely situated to helping children develop an understanding of social events as the social studies; as history is filled with instances of loss, tragedy, and death (i.e. war, conflict, natural disasters, etc.). During these difficult times, teachers often encounter important questions from inquisitive children on these challenging topics. This manuscript discusses how an elementary social studies teacher leveraged the assets of children’s literature to assist her students in learning to grapple with the death of their beloved classroom pet. Parents and educators are provided literary resources and strategies to assist students in grappling with the concepts of loss or death.
Key words: social studies, death, loss, tragedy, children’s literature, controversial issues, classroom pet, elementary