How Books Help Children Cope With Fear, Topic of Conference

A day-long conference co-sponsored by the Yale Child Study Center and London’s Anne Freud Centre titled “The Power of Children’s Books and the Inner Life of the Child,” will held on Saturday, October 21, at Bank Street College in New York City.

The conference will address the fears that every child experiences—ordinary fears of the dark, of separation, of nighttime noises and fears set off by traumatic events such as a school shooting, terrorism, war and natural disasters. Organizers say children’s literature can help children handle emotions that might otherwise be overwhelming. Authors and child analysts will discuss literature ranging from picture books to fiction for adolescents.

“While it is not clear that today’s children face more fears than kids did 50 years ago, it is apparent that the Internet and 24-hour news coverage expose them to many violent and disturbing situations,” said Linda C. Mayes, M.D., the Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center/Anna Freud Centre. “Literature helps us understand our struggle as human beings. Stories are part of the way we learn and children’s authors bring ‘art’ to the discussion.”

Conference keynote speakers include Steven Marans, The Harris Professor of Child Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center, Director of the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence and author of “Listening to Fear: Helping Kids Cope from Nightmares to the Nightly News,” and Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked.”

Authors presenting at the conference include Newberry, Hugo and ALA Notable Book Award winners: David Almond, Chris Crutcher, Neil Gaiman, Robie H. Harris, Lois Lawry, Pam Munoz Ryan, Martin Waddell, Mo Willems and Jacqueline Woodson. Child analysts presenting are Nicholas Midgely, Jennifer Stoker, Judith Yanof, M.D., Alicia F. Lieberman, Karen Gilmore, M.D., and Arietta Slade.

Additional information can be found on the Yale Child Study Center website.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326