On Saturday, March 26 I’ll be leading a special story time at Bookends & Beginnings in Evanston. Here’s the scoop on our featured picture book:

The SheepOver by Jennifer and John Churchman tells the story of an orphan lamb named Sweet Pea who becomes very ill. Her farmer caregiver, her animal friends, and a kind veterinarian nurse Sweet Pea back to health again. Children will enjoy the collaged photographs documenting this true story of a real Vermont farm family. Children will also learn from Sweet Pea’s example about what happens when you get sick: Your family and friends take care of you, a doctor provides expert advice and medicine, and when you get better, everyone celebrates.

For young children, getting sick can be scary. Not only do you feel crummy, you might also have to see a doctor and take yucky medicine. Picture books help children understand and overcome frightening experiences. Children will identify with Sweet Pea, the charming protagonist in The SheepOver and will be reassured by her full recovery. Through Sweet Pea’s example, children may develop more courage and confidence to face their own challenges.

Other picture books that help children understand and face illness or visits to the doctor or dentist include the classics Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans and Doctor De Soto by William Steig. Children also benefit from pretend play with props, dolls and puppets when they can act out their fears and practice being brave. Many children especially enjoy playing the role of doctor; the tables are turned, they are in a position of power, and they may prescribe all kinds of shots and bitter medicines for their pretend patients. This is a normal process for mastering their fears and learning about how the world works. Both pretend play and picture books are among the most important tools of childhood for learning, healing and growing.

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