November 22, 1963, I clearly remember how ecstatic my 3rd grade classmates and I were when our teacher announced that class was dismissed. Boy that dates me back to the era when children could just be released from school.
As we skipped and cheered at our new found freedom, passing Debbie’s house, her mother scolded us, “You should be ashamed of yourselves on such a sad day!” We were puzzled, but kept on playing.
When I arrived home, I was told that President Kennedy was shot and killed. I remember the profound sadness that was everywhere. Family, friends and television broadcasts were solemn. I remember watching the President’s coffin carried on a horse-drawn cassion while sitting on the back of my cousin’s couch. We were touched by young JohnJohn saluting.
Here we are 50 years later. As Children’s Librarians, we are often asked for books about the Kennedy assassination. Two newly added titles are The President Has Been Shot: the assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L Swanson and Assassination and Its Aftermath by Don Nardo. Both titles are for upper elementary students. If your children are younger there are two wonderful picture books biographies, Jack’s Path of Courage: the Life of John F Kennedy by Doreen Rappaport and The Brothers Kennedy: John, Robert, Edward by Kathy Krull.
Unfortunately, like on that November day in 1963, today’s children experience trauma. whether it’s a terrorist act, a super storm or a death in the family. The library can provide guidance and solace. A few of our titles are Healing Days: a Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma by Susan Farber Straus, Everyone Feels Scared Sometimes by Marcie Aboff and What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies? by Trevor Romain.
As the country recognizes the JFK assassination, the library can provide many informational books. The Children’s Department has bibliographies of titles for parents and caregivers that address the many of the life changing subjects that children face today. Please feel free to ask for a list or assistance in finding the right book for you and your child.