Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dog Heaven

Today I took an online survey for another stay-at-home dad doing a graduate project. It concerned therapy for children. I was to imagine I have a 7 to 10-year-old child. For which issues would I consider having the child see a therapist. I answered no to the first few and worried that I would answer no to all of them (I also worried about how long the survey would be, because then I had to answer the 'why not' questions). I'm not inclined to consider professional therapy, I guess, because it's always seemed like a pretty severe solution to the things we go through in life. But a few of the situations got me thinking. There are some things I haven't encountered that Maya hopefully won't either, but should she, she may need some outside help. It was quite thought-provoking.

I like to think that books are good therapy, too. I've heard it's a good idea to read books to prepare children for difficult times in life well before they actually occur. They open the door for conversations about things like the family pet passing, or grandparents, or parents, or a friend. Then perhaps they may be prepared.

Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant, and it's companion, Cat Heaven, are my favorite books about where pets go when they die. Heaven for dogs is just what the name implies-perfect. God knows what dogs need and enjoy, and he provides for them.

There are endless fields in which to run, ponds with geese to bark at, and children. There are dog biscuits shaped like cats and soft clouds to sleep on. Dogs without homes on earth are given special homes in heaven. Those that left family behind are given a chance to occasionally check in on them.

I like that God is a kindly old man dressed in farming clothes who enjoys looking after all of the dogs. Dog Heaven places a nice image in your child's imagination, so perhaps they won't miss their beloved so dearly until they meet up again.

Big Kid Books I'm Reading

This summer I'll be facilitating a Guys Read book club for school-aged boys. I've been perusing some great books. Our first is Jackie's Wild Seattle, by Will Hobbs. All the clubs in the system are doing one of his books because at the end of the summer he will be visiting the library.

I wasn't sure how Jackie's Wild Seattle would go over since the protagonist is a 12-year-old girl. We're supposed to look for books with a boy in the lead, but I think the person who chose this one may not have read it. But I think it will be ok. There are so many attention grabbers in here that I don't think the boys will mind.

A brother and sister spend the summer with their uncle in Seattle while their parents travel to Pakistan with Doctors Without Borders. Uncle Neal lost his job as an aeronautics engineer and is volunteering for an animal rescue outfit. But he isn't looking so good.

Shannon and Cody are from Jersey and were there on 9/11. Cody actually saw the second plane and is having trouble coping. When Neal is injured Shannon has to step up and do the rescuing. There is also a troubled boy there who needs a little rescuing too. Through all of this and discovering what is wrong with Uncle Neal, the kids do a lot of growing during that summer.

Jackie's Wild Seattle covers a lot of heavy issues, but I think reluctant readers will enjoy the scenes involving the rescue of wild animals. And the questions about what makes a good person or even a hero will get them thinking.

By the way, if you're in the Twin Cities area and you see a notice for a program by Dakota Wild Animals, I highly recommend that you go. They provide amazing demonstrations.

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