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13 Reads: Libraries helping families deal with emotions of the pandemic and beyond

The Grand Rapids Public Library is helping parents guide their kids through all their emotions with strategies and book suggestions for each of those emotions.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — When the COVID-19 pandemic began, feelings of isolation and uncertainty created mental health concerns across the world that continue to this day. The Grand Rapids Public Library responded by launching a program they hope will help parents guide their children through their feelings long after the pandemic ends.

"Today I Feel" is a virtual tool that gives parents ideas for activities they can do with their kids and books their kids can read based on how they're feeling. They have suggestions for happiness, sadness, anger, and worry.

"One good way to engage with it is to introduce one of those books with your child, look over the tips yourself, and figure out what could work for you, and just kind of recognizing that these are big feelings, big emotions for children," said youth services librarian Betsy Zandstra.

"This isn’t just during the pandemic. This is for your whole life. I think realizing that just like adults, children need to develop strategies of handling emotions to develop those social emotional skills."

Zandstra says parents also need to take care of their own mental health and be a good example of how to manage one's own emotions.

"If you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s much more difficult to take care of children and to be there for their emotional needs as well, so that two-sided approach is important."

"Today I Feel" and the rest of the library's virtual programming is available on its website.

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