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Books for Children Affected by Tree of Life Tragedy

The Pitt community is collecting books for children affected by the Tree of Life shooting to help them understand what happened — and where to go from here.

photos by Julia Petruska

Parents or loved ones of children in the Squirrel Hill area have likely had the struggle of knowing how to talk with kids about the tragedy at Tree of Life last Saturday. These are the conversations that no parent or child-care giver ever hopes to have — but a book drive is hoping to create opportunities for children to explore and process the event and their emotions.

The premise is simple enough: roughly one book for every child in the Squirrel Hill area, distributed to schools and childcare facilities. The University of Pittsburgh office of Child Development and Pitt Early Childhood Community are soliciting donations now — which is where you can come in.

There’s an Amazon wishlist for the book drive, filled with stories focused on processing emotions and celebrating differences and diversity.  “Once I was very scared,” “A Terrible Thing Happened” and “We’re All Wonders” top the list (which, fair warning, will probably make you tear up while perusing the titles). Choose which books you want to donate, and they’ll ship directly to Pitt’s office of child development to be donated.

In the words of Shannon Wanless, director of the Office of Child Development: “Books can be a powerful tool in helping the youngest and most vulnerable among us connect with the important adults in their lives and heal after tragedy. We hope adults will use these books to tell children that we are here to help them when they are afraid.”

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