Making Sense of Tragedy

The recent unthinkable tragedy in Colorado where 12 lives have senselessly been taken led to this question being asked to me by a 11 year old who lives in this community: Why did this have to happen? There is no answer and it is quite possible no reason will ever come forth to bring comfort to our sorrow.

I was driving home after my conversation with this young boy and it got me thinking about middle grade novels that explore people’s reactions to tragedy striking unexpectedly. There weren’t many for the 8-12 year old age group that came to mind. Seems to be more of a YA topic. I kept digging backwards and four last century reads surfaced. A well told story stands the test of time and I hope my young friend will check these titles out.

Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Patterson)—A Newberry winner from 25 years ago with the main character Jess dealing with the sudden loss of his new best friend.

Where the Red Fern Grows (Wilson Rawls)—This classic story deals with a boy who raises and trains two hunting dogs. The tragedy of losing one of them happens at the end of the story. Although not a human death the event that helps the boy to begin healing from his loss is heartwarming and helpful to those dealing with tragedy.

Mick Harte Was Here (Barabara Park) —Not as widely known as the previous two titles but this short book (85 pages) is just as well told. The story unwinds through the eyes of an older sister whose brother dies in a bicycle accident

Missing May (Cynthia Rylant) This Newberry winner is 19 years old and is about ‘Summer’ who must face the sudden loss of her caretaker Aunt May.

Are there any recent titles that may help middle readers with sudden tragedy in their lives?

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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