The rules have changed. Young children aren’t sent on playdates, school schedules have become variable and visits to family or friends are infrequent, if they happen at all. With the pandemic response to lessen the spread of COVID-19, young children are experiencing feelings of isolation, loneliness and confusion. Clinical psychologist, teacher and author Lesley Koplow published Lilah in the Land of the Littles for children looking for ways to heal during times of uncertainty.
“You can’t really solve COVID-19,” Koplow says. “Children know there’s something out there that adults don’t quite have a handle on. But there’s nothing you can do in the here and now. I wrote Lilah in the Land of the Littles because it’s a book that children need. Using books to reflect, for kids, is a way to help them not feel alone.”
In the Palm of Your Hand
Koplow’s book uses play and the dynamics of relationships to help children see a world where they can feel safely in control. It follows the main character Lilah and her best friend Jasmine through pages of beautiful collage art (also by Koplow) and inspires creative solutions through play that’s appropriate to preschool development.
“Parents explain, but children need to play in order to make emotional sense out of it. Young children take things at their developmental level, which is not the same focus as adults about the COVID experience. We have to listen to what the kids are reacting to and provide lots of active play material so it becomes something they can hold in their hand,” Koplow says.
In addition to providing a safe way for children to deal with big feelings, Koplow says there is a lot of overlap for adults to benefit from this type of bibliotherapy. She brings her continued experience in her private practice (since 1989) and author credits (she just released her tenth book) to other roles within her profession— as Director of the Emotionally Responsive Program at Bank Street College, as well as the founder of Networks for Schools That Heal. Both programs focus on the wellbeing of children through the lens of child development and life experience.
“Adults used to be children”
“We talk about your Big Self and your Little Self- making the connection of how you react as an adult or as a teacher or parent, and how you would have reacted as a younger self or as your little self at the same age as these children. This helps adults become more aware of what they’re teaching and provides a lot of crossover for healing.”
Koplow’s new book, Emotionally Responsive Practice: A Path for Schools That Heal, came out in January, just as her self-published Lilah in the Land of the Littles was released. Koplow chose self-publishing for Lilah because it was a quicker route to get the material into the hands of people who could use it.
“It’s strange during this time that to be physically healthy we have to be physically apart. But to be emotionally healthy, we need to feel connected and close,” Koplow says. “Through the function of play, you can bring anxiety down and make the world that you need. Kids are great at that.”
Purchase Lilah in the Land of the Littles by Lesley Koplow on Amazon.