This blog is a resource for fellow therapists, parents and teachers. I will provide suggestions and reviews of books that I have found especially therapeutic and useful for various social-emotional issues. And...my favorite part...I will provide accompanying activities related to the book to help with teaching social-emotional skills.
I would love for you to check it out and give me your feedback.
A Book Review of The Invisible String
The Invisible String
Written by: Patrice Karst
Illustrated by: Geoff Stevenson
Publisher: DoVorss & Co., CA
Welcome to my first Blog post!! I thought Valentine's Day would be a perfect day to kick off my first post with this lovely book about connections of the heart. I am dedicating this post to my former Infant Mental Health team at Easter Seals Michigan. Due to the intensity of our work together, working with vulnerable young children and their families, we developed very strong connections to each other. This book became a frequent go-to for all of us in dealing with loss in young children.
In my opinion, this book is most appropriate for children from three to eight years of age, but truly it resonates with people of all ages in providing comfort in the event of a loss. After all, loss is a universal experience that, like it or not, we all experience at one time or another and in one way or another. It is a painful experience that parents simply cannot protect their kids from, nor should they try.
Liza and Jeremy were twins that became scared one night from a thunderstorm and ran out of their room and into their mother's arms. This situation is a frequent occurrence and common fear that many kids can relate to. Ms. Karst does a beautiful job showing appropriate expression of feelings of Liza and Jeremy throughout the book, as does Mr. Stevenson through the illustrations.
This is a beautiful, comforting book that subtly touches on the many losses we incur in our lifetime. It presents the concept that we never really lose people we love, they stay in our hearts forever-always connected through that invisible string! Ms. Karst's creative concept of "the invisible string" is a magical concept that adds to the anticipation and mystery that draws kids into the book. At the end of the story, Liza and Jeremy are able to withstand the storm in their own beds comforted by their new knowledge that the people they love are always with them, even if not physically.
I have used this book so much in my practice that I have worn it out! It is very useful with kids who have been separated from their families through foster care or adoption, jail, or death. I have found it helpful for military families when kids have a parent serving overseas. It is also useful for kids with separation anxiety and for just the day to day life happenings of a child, ie. staying in their own bed at night, starting preschool or Kindergarten, or missing their non-custodial parent who no longer lives with them.
This story strongly resonates with children and adults alike and provides a comfort that only connection and relationships can provide when going through difficult times. I use this book as a great starting point to address all of the losses stated above. Many times, I follow the reading of this book by a therapeutic activity, to drive the concepts home.
1. Cut out large heart from construction paper, in child's favorite color, and write child's name in the middle of the heart.
Note: Work together with the child and parent, cutting if child is too young, having child pick out the colors and write name if they can.
To make the hearts, I simply fold paper and make them the old fashioned way! Kids love the magic of opening up the shape after it's cut and seeing the heart! See photos.
2. Cut strings and tape on back of large heart. See photos.
4. Have child pick out color for each of his/her connections and cut out smaller heart for each one. You can trace the first heart you cut so they are all about the same size. (Don't forget to let the kids do the "magic" by opening the heart!) Write the connection's name on heart using child's name for that person.
6. FINISHED PROJECT! During and/or after activity, discuss favorite memories they have about each connection. Suggest to parent/guardian to hang project in the house somewhere where child can see it often. Drive home the message "Even though ______ isn't with you now, you are ALWAYS CONNECTED by the invisible string! You are in each other's hearts forever and no one can take that away from you."