Empowering Siblings Coping with Congenital Heart Defect

We all know the power of sharing your personal story through illness. As a child life specialist, I work closely with kids to help them find their voice, document it in words, photos or illustrations. It’s therapeutic for the child, but also inspiring to others. I’m excited to share a new children’s book, created by two young siblings, Jack and Everly.

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Bibliotherapy: A Gentler Approach to Understanding


Guest Blogger: Mary Pat Benning form Heartfelt Books

It’s difficult to talk to children about things that bring them stress ~ things like illness or injury, hospitalization, death of a loved one, or significant changes in family structure. Through collective life experiences as a parent, a teacher, and child life specialist, I have come to believe that relevant books can provide the greatest teaching tools — ones that often lead to better understanding and better processing of the emotions that naturally accompany some of these great life challenges.

Many parents and teachers (and child life specialists too!) love to use books to “bring the message home” to the children they serve. The words and characters and story scenarios naturally bring about new ideas and new perspectives – and in a manner that is often less threatening than a direct conversation might be. This, in a nutshell, explains the power and beauty of bibliotherapy!


Heartfelt Books: Integrative Bibliotherapy for Children and Expressions: Journaling from the Heart are tandem tools/resources that I created to make this bibliotherapy process easy. In developing Heartfelt Books, I researched and put together a collection of wonderful titles, paired these books with thought-provoking journal prompts, and arranged the titles in such a way that finding the right story for a particular scenario is simple to do.

As someone entrusted with a care-givers role, you might ask yourself– Is my child / student/patient feeling afraid and separated from loved ones? Is he trying to cope with the anxiety that stems from an upcoming surgery or procedure? Is she feeling isolated from school mates because of an injury or new diagnosis? Is he feeling sad having recently lost a parent or grandparent or sibling? These scenarios (and certainly more) lend themselves to the teaching and healing power of books.

Stories naturally bring people together. They bring joy and comfort. With intention and a little extra effort, they can also prompt understanding, relay new perspectives, and aid in the coping and healing process!

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For additional ideas on bibliotherapy and narrative medicine methods and resources and customized book collections tailored to individual families, schools, or healthcare settings, please visit www.HeartfeltBooks.Us or contact Mary Pat Benning at MaryPat.Benning@HeartfeltBooks.US

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Mary Pat S. Benning, Founder-Heartfelt Books

Mary Pat Benning is a licensed educator and certified child life specialist. She is dedicated to serving the needs of parents, educators, and child life specialists by providing creative and comprehensive bibliotherapy and narrative medicine resources and by encouraging the specific use of children’s literature and journaling in settings where children face trauma and serious health challenges. Heartfelt Books and its bibliotherapy and journaling curriculums were created especially for those looking for a relationship-centered approach to helping children and families as they navigate stress and the healing journey.

One set, Integrative Bibliotherapy for Children AND Expressions-Journaling from the Heart to be given away!

To register for the giveaway:

  1. Visit www.HeartfeltBooks.US (Program Content page) to learn more
  2. Email Mary Pat Benning at MaryPat.Benning@HeartfeltBooks.US to provide contact information and a brief statement as to where and what population you serve.

(Deadline for registration is June 30, 2018. Winner will be contacted directly!)

Bibliotherapy is a Powerful Tool for Children: Spotlight and Giveaway!

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I’m sure many of you have seen past posts of one of my favorite teams creating children’s literature, Susan Schaefer Bernardo and Courtenay Fletcher. This dynamic duo have published some incredible books that resonate deeply with children who are coping with separation, loss, relocation and finding resiliency. They are always willing to share their support and resources by donating books to programs and children in need.

They also love child life specialists and want to celebrate our work all year long (not just the month of March)! They are giving away one free paperback copy of Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs to any hospital’s child life department. All you have to do is email xoxo@sunkissesmoonhugs.com with “Child Life Offer” in the subject line. That is it! Don’t miss out on this fantastic resource!

Susan and Courtenay aren’t done celebrating child life specialists. They are giving away a set of all three of their hardcover picture books signed by them, as well as a signed advance review copy of my Susan’s novel INSPIRED.

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Choose one or more ways to enter the giveaway:

  1. Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment on this post.
  2. Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy, leave a comment and tag a friend on the post.
  3. Facebook: Follow Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs and leave a comment on their page.
  4. Twitter: Follow, Like and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy and @SusanBernardo
  5. Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy & @Sunkissessmoonhugs, Like and Tag a friend in the post.

Good luck, winner will be chosen 4/10/18.

Learn more about their books:

Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs

The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm

The Big Adventures of Tiny House