When my youngest sister was only 4 years old, she was diagnosed with leukemia - cancer. What followed was two years of treatment (including chemotherapy and steroids) that would have been hard on anyone, let alone a little girl. But she was a champ and kept smiling most of the time. One thing that always brightened her day was when the therapy dogs came to visit the children's hospital. It was an enjoyable distraction for her and the other kids and took their minds off being sick, if only for a little while.
One important role that picture books play for children is to provide a tool for talking about subjects that would otherwise be much more difficult. Whether your own child ever deals with a serious illness, or has a friend or relative who does, it can be a scary time. We don't usually associate children with sick beds, cancer, hospitals, and even death. (And no, no one dies in this book - it is very positive and upbeat.) But unfortunately, there are lots and lots of children who have chronic, acute, and life threatening illnesses they deal with everyday. Seeing that they are kids too can help a child (or even an adult) who is struggling with understanding what to do. And just like Toby, we all have opportunities to bring a little light and joy into the lives around us everyday.
Book for Children Ages: 4 years old and older
Family Reading Time: If an older child is dealing with a friend or family member who is sick, this can be a good tool to use with them as well.
Related Discussion Questions:
- Charmaine included such a wonderful list of questions at the end of the book, I won't even venture to add more here. Just know they are there. :-)
- Call your local children's hospital and see what opportunities there are to volunteer. Depending on the age of your child, you may be able to write cards, visit to play with children, bring a goodie basket to a family in need, or even make rag dolls or other comfort toys or blankets.
- If you have a pet, write a story together about all the ways he/she helps your family. Let your child illustrate with their own drawings.
- Even if your family is not able to have a pet right now, you may be able to help out at your local animal shelter. Give them a call and see what is possible.
- Play doctor together with your child. Take turns being doctor, patient, and nurse. Make sure to ask questions and be ready to answer some too.
Children's Book Review Rating: 4 Stars - Beneficial Book