CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 11 . . . . February 3, 2006
The National Film Board of Canada tackles one of the scariest issues for young children - death and the many ways it can happen. The video combines interviews with children aged 9-12 and animates their art. The film’s easygoing, contemporary style may help children accept the loss of people close to them and make the most of life.
The documentary introduces the topic frankly but includes humour generated by 11 kids themselves. PowerPoint effects swish devilish creatures or angels with halos in and out of the picture. Comic book dialogue bubbles ask the questions posed at the same time by an interviewer.
The children express a variety of commonly-held opinions - about a heaven, being reborn as a spirit, and one boy who consistently asserts that when one dies, that's it, - crying about it won't help.
The children are all shown doing some form of recreation which leads them to the logical conclusion that, as children, there is little value in worrying about death. They are engaged in positive activities, and, should someone they are close to pass away, they will find support in family and friends.
A few children discuss their personal experiences. Particularly poignant is one boy, Rio, whose father passed away from cancer. Rio’s loss has obviously been profound, but he has happy memories of his father to guide him. He credits his mother, grandparents and friends with helping him overcome his grief.
The film ends with the kids and their families at a picnic and with the final statement that the most important things are "Life and love." Need we say more?
The User Guide cautions that Kids Talkin’ About Death is "not intended for children who are currently grieving." Adults may use this film as a guide to talk to those children and can use their discretion about whether or not to show it. Suggestions about how to work with children as individual and in groups are included.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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