This month we returned to reading children’s books on mental health and our group of fifteen people adored this month’s subject matter for a couple reasons.
First, there is absolutely zero preparation required in order to participate in this type of a meeting, and so people all come to the meeting well prepared! The second reason is a direct result from having a children’s book read out loud to us-–we hear the reader, we see the pictures, and we get to take a pause from our daily responsibilities to react and respond with others who are also reading these books.
From the two books we read together on May 20th, there was a rousing discussion on therapy dogs, service dogs, psychiatric service dogs, emotional support animals, recovery, big feelings, and learning to live a life of stability through reliance on the support of a canine companion.
Charlie the Therapy Dog, written by local author Sandy Clark MS, LPC, LADC, NCACII, SAP (DOT Qualified) was the first book we listened to together, heard Charlie’s perspective on his work, and saw pictures of his life on-the-job! Charlie even introduced us to a psychiatric service dog who was formerly utilized by one of this month’s book club attendees!
Our other book, The Boy with Big, Big Feelings, written by Britney Winn Lee, was read to us with compassion and zeal by this month’s moderator, Emily Zhao! The May participants were delighted by the artistic portrayal of emotions. Many could relate with the boy and were pleased that the story resolved well in community support as friendships were established, which dispelled the sense of being different from others, which has a tendency to generate isolation.
An exciting round of conversation followed the readings with points made about support dogs aiding service members and veterans, congressional bills, lowering the risk of suicide, sustaining people’s health, and housing. The distinction between a therapy dog and a service dog was stated for us as well.
Join us on Thursday, June 17th for our next Book Club meeting when we look at life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1969 and how a young teen copes with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Author: Carrie roach
Carrie is a NAMI Ramsey County board member and chair of the Book Club Planning Committee.