Discussing a Pet's Death

Discuss the September 2016 Book of the Month, A Spiritual Dog: Bear by J. Wesley Porter.
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Discussing a Pet's Death

Post by bookowlie » 02 Sep 2016, 09:48

Bear's death is discussed in detail in the story. Is the subject matter of a pet's illness and death too sensitive for a children's book?
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Post by e-tasana-williams » 02 Sep 2016, 16:31

I don't think the subject is too sensitive. There are lots of children who experience the death of a family pet, and there are children's books out there to help them through the grieving process. I think this author was a bit graphic in his discussion of Bear's illness, though. It would have sufficed to say he was sick and not acting himself. I agree with other writers in the forum that children may not flock to this type of story, but it's a book parents, teachers or counselors could consider when helping kids who have already lost a beloved animal.
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Post by bookowlie » 02 Sep 2016, 18:02

Eatsleaves wrote:I don't think the subject is too sensitive. There are lots of children who experience the death of a family pet, and there are children's books out there to help them through the grieving process. I think this author was a bit graphic in his discussion of Bear's illness, though. It would have sufficed to say he was sick and not acting himself. I agree with other writers in the forum that children may not flock to this type of story, but it's a book parents, teachers or counselors could consider when helping kids who have already lost a beloved animal.
I agree that the author was too graphic in the section on Bear's illness. If the scene was a little less detailed, as you mentioned, I think kids might be able to deal with the information better,
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Post by L_Therese » 02 Sep 2016, 21:53

It's important to have children's books that discuss death and illness, but I would be reluctant to give them to a child who has not dealt with these issues yet. Instead, I would hold a book about a pet's death in reserve to reveal to the child when it is clear that a beloved pet will soon die. Books can be useful tools for understanding pain, sickness, and death and finding the words to express the new feelings that the child will experience. Graphic descriptions are a problem, though. One could include a few signs of illness - loss of appetite, tiredness, and accidents inside the house, for example - but detail is probably not the best strategy with kids.

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Post by gali » 02 Sep 2016, 23:50

I agree again with the posters above. I think it is important to have children's books with that theme, but would only give such books to my son in case we experienced similar lose. In this book the author was too graphic indeed, especially as it was meant to be kids' book.
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Post by hsimone » 06 Sep 2016, 10:07

I also agree with others here. There is definitely a fine line of how much to explain to children about death and loss. You don't want to scare them, but also want to be realistic. This book, in particular, could have used a bit less description if children are meant to read it.
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Post by ashley_claire » 06 Sep 2016, 14:09

I agree that using a book to help a real-life situation is a great way to help explain things to kids. Too much description could have the opposite effect and make the event more traumatizing, though.

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Post by klbradley » 06 Sep 2016, 14:58

I agree with the posts above.
When dealing with children and death, there is a postive way to tell them, and usually the best way to do that is to exclude some details that are unnecessary.
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Post by Shelle » 06 Sep 2016, 15:48

L_Therese wrote:It's important to have children's books that discuss death and illness, but I would be reluctant to give them to a child who has not dealt with these issues yet. Instead, I would hold a book about a pet's death in reserve to reveal to the child when it is clear that a beloved pet will soon die. Books can be useful tools for understanding pain, sickness, and death and finding the words to express the new feelings that the child will experience. Graphic descriptions are a problem, though. One could include a few signs of illness - loss of appetite, tiredness, and accidents inside the house, for example - but detail is probably not the best strategy with kids.
I think L_Therese sums it up perfectly. Our dear chocolate lab is 10 years old and dealing with some health issues. While she has rebounded nicely, she'll likely only only be around for another year or two. When it's time, we'll explain to our kids about what's going on using broad terms and answering questions, but not getting into graphic specifics.
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Post by hsimone » 06 Sep 2016, 16:26

Shelle wrote:
L_Therese wrote:It's important to have children's books that discuss death and illness, but I would be reluctant to give them to a child who has not dealt with these issues yet. Instead, I would hold a book about a pet's death in reserve to reveal to the child when it is clear that a beloved pet will soon die. Books can be useful tools for understanding pain, sickness, and death and finding the words to express the new feelings that the child will experience. Graphic descriptions are a problem, though. One could include a few signs of illness - loss of appetite, tiredness, and accidents inside the house, for example - but detail is probably not the best strategy with kids.
I think L_Therese sums it up perfectly. Our dear chocolate lab is 10 years old and dealing with some health issues. While she has rebounded nicely, she'll likely only only be around for another year or two. When it's time, we'll explain to our kids about what's going on using broad terms and answering questions, but not getting into graphic specifics.
I'm so sorry to hear that. I wish your lab, you, and your family the best of luck.
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Post by Elaine5 » 07 Sep 2016, 13:07

I completely agree with other posters. Books and stories are a great way to intoduce difficult topics such as the death of a pet. Since every experience is going to be different when it comes to specifics, graphic details are not helpful. In the case of a children's book this could even cause unnecessary worry or fear. It's the discussion about feelings that I think is positive and helpful.
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Post by anneloretrujillo » 08 Sep 2016, 23:34

I seem to have the same opinion as the other posters. I think that discussing the death of a pet in a book is a great way to help children cope. However, there was a little too much detail in this book. I don't think the amount of detail is really appropriate for young children. This book almost seems to be written more for an older audience than as a children's book.

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Post by Lauren M » 15 Sep 2016, 19:23

I agree as well, I think that in moderation it is good to have a pet's death in a book to help a child understand that does happen and that it is ok to talk about it and share with others. As a writer myself I find it good to write my own short stories to help further cope with the loss of a pet. I think on a further note, it opens the door for a child to not only read and talk about it, but to find their own way to express and cope with the death of a pet. By writing their own short story about the pet's life, drawing a picture or making a card. Something hands on.
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Post by Megwe85 » 18 Sep 2016, 21:37

I agree with the majority of the other posts. Many children do experience the death of a pet and so I think the topic is appropriate. In the book about Bear, the author spent quite a bit of time on the dog's death which I thought was different. This book seemed to be targeted to a very specific audience though - Bear's family.
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Post by Kia » 22 Sep 2016, 17:30

I agree with everyone here. It is important to have books like this to help children to understand their own feelings. It certainly did seem a little graphic in terms of Bear's illness though, especially as the book seems to be written for very young children.
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