HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Please Explain “Terrorism” to Me!: A Story for Children, P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom for Their Parents
Author: Laurie Zelinger
Illustrator: Ann Israeli
Publisher: Loving Healing Press, 2016
Language level: 2 (the abbreviation OMG is found once)
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 7 – 10
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Zelinger, Laurie. Please Explain “Terrorism” to Me!: A Story for Children, P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom for Their Parents (published in 2016 by Loving Healing Press, 5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105). How would you define “terrorism”? And how would you explain it to a child? A grade-school age lad lives with his parents, older brother Noah, and baby sister Zookie. He goes to school, plays soccer, and is bullied in the lunch room by a boy named Jack. One day when he comes home, the television is showing “Breaking news” about explosions, people dying, and terrorists. Mom quickly turns it off. The next day at school, there is a lockdown practice. Noah’s school has an evacuation drill. As the television continues to talk about terrorism, the young narrator begins to get scared and even has nightmares, so he finally asks mom and dad to explain more about it. What will they say to him? How will he react? And will he tell them about Jack? It is very unfortunate that we have to deal with topics such as this, but especially since Sept. 11, 2001, “terrorism” has become part of our everyday vocabulary.
Please Explain “Terrorism” to Me! is like two books in one. There is a story, complemented by exquisite, colorful artwork from illustrator Ann Israeli, that children can easily relate to. This is followed by a section of guidance for parents or teachers in answering children’s difficult questions. The “PEARLS” of wisdom include Prepare, Explain, Answer, Reassure, Listen, and Safeguard. Author Dr. Laurie Zelinger is a distinguished Board Certified Psychologist with Diplomate status in school psychology as well as a credentialed play therapist who serves on executive boards of state and national organizations. In her Introduction, she explains, “This book, written from a child’s perspective, is intended as a general and simplistic introduction to the emotionally-charged concept of Terrorism, at a developmental level appropriate for children between ages 7 through 10. Some passages are deliberately vague so that you, as the parent, can provide elaboration based on your personal experience and beliefs. The book does not address particular events or types of violence portrayed in the media. Rather, it is intended as a preparatory tool to educate children gently about some of the risks in the world and how their caregivers work to keep them safe.”
The key to approaching this subject is balance. Dr. Zelinger writes, “By now, the frequency of these events and the viral rate at which media spreads both information and rumors means that we cannot ignore that Terrorism exists. Balancing children’s innocence and their right to a fanciful existence with what they need to know is a challenging task for a parent….You are the primary source of information for your children, and how you present that information will influence their understanding and perceptions.” This book is an excellent resource to help parents accomplish this aim. The author concludes, “In short, we want to make our children aware of, but not paralyzed by, the world they live in. This means giving them information that is helpful, simple, realistic, and not overly dramatized. We want our children to feel protected by the adults they trust and to be able to make good decisions when they are without us. We also want them to be able to go about their lives and to enjoy living.” If you’re looking for professional guidance about how to explain a scary topic to children, you’ll find it in Please Explain “Terrorism” to Me!