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How books can help children with their emotions

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How books can help children with their emotions

Mum of two, Fiona, shares how books became a useful resource for her family to talk about childhood cancer throughout her daughter’s diagnosis and treatment.

When cancer happens in a child’s life, it can be hard to explain and even harder to talk about the big feelings that come out of nowhere. Each child will react in their own way: 

  • Young children with cancer may be scared, angry or confused 
  • Older children and teenagers with cancer may be worried how cancer might affect their schooling or friendships
  • Siblings may feel worried, jealous, angry, or may wonder if they are going to get cancer too
  • School friends or friends from after school activities may be confused why they don’t see their friend anymore, or why they look different or need to be treated differently

If you want to help the children you care about talk about their big feelings or want to learn a child friendly approach to talking to others about cancer, books are a valuable resource you can lean on.  

Fiona, whose 14-month-old daughter Matilda was diagnosed with Leukaemia, found the Redkite Book Club helped her, her husband Will, and their then three-year-old Maisie, to better understand cancer and what was happening with Matilda.  

There were some books designed for siblings, which was also amazing. We got one that explained what cancer is and another one that explained what it’s like. 

“I looked on the Redkite website early on and I saw there was the library. I accessed that service very early on and Redkite sent me some books. One was just a kind of general one about leukaemia, which was so, so helpful, because everything’s so fast and furious at the beginning in terms of treatment and your meetings with the doctors, so it was helpful to get a book and just consume the data that I wanted to consume about what leukaemia was and what the different treatments were. Will and I both wanted information. I know some families don’t, but that’s how we responded. We wanted data, we wanted as much data as possible. 

I was starting to get concerned about Maisie, so we also got some kids books. It helped because I didn’t know what language to use with Maisie, whether to say it was cancer or not or whether that would scare her. The language from those books also taught me what was okay to say to Maisie and how to phrase it. And it’s okay to say, oh, Matilda has a blood cancer and that she has leukaemia.”

“I think that overall was really empowering for Maisie. Instead of just saying she’s sick, we’re able would say to her, your sister has leukaemia, which is a type of blood cancer and explain she’s going to have lots of drugs that’s going to make her hair fall out. I think that was so good to be able to explain that to Maisie.”

Redkite’s Book Club service is free for all families affected by childhood cancer. It includes over 80 books for children, teenagers, and adults that cover all kinds of aspects of the cancer experience including strong emotions, communication challenges, and treatment. If you need helping choosing the right books, contact us and we can talk you through the different titles and help you choose. 

How to order a book from Redkite

Browse our library, click on a book you want and click ‘order a copy’, or contact us on 1800 REDKITE or support@redkite.org.au and let us know which books you would like. We’ll post your books to you free of charge, and you can keep them for as long as you need.

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