Napa’s library has long been a source of books on every topic. In recent months, the library has added “things” to check out such as guitars, ukuleles, binoculars, telescopes and birdwatching kits.

You can now add children’s “healing kits” to the list.

This past June, the library debuted six healing kits in the children’s section. Each kit is a mini suitcase on wheels that includes a selection of five to 12 picture books and a printed guide about navigating a specific type of trauma or loss.

The six kit topics are: Loss of a loved one (mom, dad or grandparent), Alzheimer’s and your family, loss of a pet and coping with natural disasters. Each kit can be checked out like any other regular library book or item.

The kits are designed to be a starting point for families to begin their healing process, said Jennifer Knell, children’s librarian.

“We’ve been through so much in Napa,” such as with the 2014 earthquake and the 2017 wildfires, said Knell.

“I want to support wellness in our community,” said Knell. “Children and adults process grief differently than adults do. We’re hoping it’s a starting place for their healing process.”

“Being able to provide the healing kits to families with children encountering trauma allows us to serve the young people of our community in a very meaningful way,” said Knell.

Books allow children to both read and express emotion and feeling, said children’s services librarian Ann Davis. “You can use them to get through traumatic or difficult times.”

And books are a great conversation starter. For example, if a story features an adult with Alzheimer’s, a young reader might be able to relate to his or her own grandparent facing the same disease.

“This is a way to support parents and kids in the healing process,” said Davis.

After learning about the kits from a project called The Healing Library, the two librarians decided to implement the program at Napa’s library.

The advantage to using the healing kits is that the books on each topic are already pre-gathered and collected for the user. There’s no need to hunt down each book individually throughout the library shelves. “It’s helpful to have them all in one place,” said Davis.

“It’s all about matching books” with the reader, she said.

For example, the healing kit about loss of a pet includes books with titles such as “Good-Bye, Jeepers,” “Goodbye Mousie” and “My Old Pal, Oscar.”

The books in each kit are chosen with diversity and a range of readers – from about preschool to third grade – in mind.

The manual for each kit includes a series of mini chapters with a discussion guide with tips for discussing the difficult subject as a family and an activities guide consisting of holistic art and play therapy activities to assist in expression, communication and healing.

The manual also features suggested “acts of kindness” —proactive activities of community support designed to empower a child as well as a community helpers guide with national suggestions and opportunities for local resources.

The next step for the healing kits is to add Spanish translations inside the books. New books will also be added to the kits as needed, officials said.

The kits can be checked out in person at the children’s section of the library or reserved online like any other library item. Just search “healing kit,” said Knell.

There is no charge to get a library card or to check out library materials.

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.