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Letters to Newtown


books heal hearts

“Books Heal Hearts” is a project set up by the Cyrenius H. Booth Library with donations, both monetary and physical books, given in response to the Sandy Hook School tragedy. While many of the book donations will be added to our permanent collection, we have multiple copies of many titles freely available for community groups and members to keep or pass along to others. Books Heal Hearts is a special project for healing that will make materials available for use in our library, our schools, and throughout our community, wherever there is a need and whatever that need may be. This will be an ongoing effort by the library to meet the immediate and future needs of our community.


Checks made out to: Cyrenius H. Booth Library with Books Heal Hearts written on the memo line can be mailed to:


Cyrenius H. Booth Library

25 Main Street

Newtown, CT 06470


Donations can also be made through the Booth Library's JustGive page. Please select "Books Heal Hearts" on the Program selection dropdown. Click here to give online through JustGive.


PLEASE contact the library before sending a large quantity of any title so that we can better match needs. Children's title inquiries can be made to chbooth@chboothlibrary.org. Adult title inquires can be made to chbtech@chboothlibrary.org. Thank you.

All donations are tax-deductible.



Available Books:

We currently have multiple copies of the following titles freely available. Books can be picked up at the library and are on display on the 3rd floor near the Reference Desk. Please let us know if there is a specific title you need or if you need a large quantity. We especially encourage Newtown's & Sandy Hook's families, teachers, counselors and clergy to contact us with your needs, including titles that we may have run out of. These books are being given and do not need to be returned to the library.


The response has been wonderful. This list will continue to change, please check back. We currently have multiple copies of these titles along with single/few copies of other titles (updated 6/6/14).


  • Blessings of a Broken Heart by Sherri Mandell Mandell, an American-born writer, who has lived with her family in Israel since 1996, not only had to deal with the loss of the oldest of her four children, 13-year-old Koby, but also had to cope with the horrific way in which he lost his life. On May 8, 2001, Koby and a friend, Yosef, played hooky from school to hike in a canyon close to their home in Tekoa, a West Bank settlement on disputed land. Koby and Yosef were found bludgeoned to death with stones, an act attributed to Palestinian terrorists. The author writes movingly about her beloved son and brings him to life as an energetic, curious adolescent who loved books and sports. Despite the despair that engulfed her in the first days after Koby's death, the author's strong bond with her husband, Rabbi Seth Mandell, and her deep religious faith allowed her to fully experience the painful process of mourning, deal with the guilt she felt about living in an unsafe place and find an inspiring direction for her life. The text is laced with references to prayer and the Jewish traditions that Mandell relied on to help her understand why God had taken her son. Determined not to let their lives be ruled by hate, the Mandells have established the Koby Mandell Foundation, which sponsors healing retreats for women bereaved by terrorist violence as well as a camp for children whose parents or siblings have been killed by terrorists.
  • Dancing in the Sky: a story of hope for grieving hearts by Vescinda McDonald In her book, Dancing in the Sky, Chaplain McDonald relates her personal struggle dealing with grief, its many triggers, and finally the joy of surrender through prayer and faith. She shares her intimate story of tragic loss, deep grief, and how her faith supported her. In time, it brought healing and new life. Her story invites us to process our own losses.
  • Guardian of Dreams: a bedtime story by Wendy Torrel Short fable about a rabbit who wakens from a nightmare and is unable to go back to sleep. Through the advice of the dream guardian, a horse, the rabbit discovers a remedy for his sleepless state.
  • Healing After Loss: daly mediatations for working through grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman For those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, here are strength and thoughtful words to inspire and comfort.
  • The Healing Book:  facing the death and celebrating the life of someone you love by Ellen Sabin The Healing Book is an interactive book to help children and families express their feelings, ask questions, and explore their memories about a loved one who has passed away. It is an activity book, journal, and conversation-starter that children can make their own and use in whatever way best meets their needs during the grieving and remembering process.
  • Heaven is for Real: a little boy's astounding story of his trip to heaven and back by Todd Burpo Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
  • Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One: a guide for grownups by William C. Kroen, Ph.D. Dr. William Kroen offers sound advice, comfort and compassion to any adult helping a child cope with death. Weaving in anecdotes about real children and their families, he explains how children from infancy through age 18 perceive and react to death and offers suggestions for how to respond to children at different ages and stages. Specific strategies are offered to guide and support them through the grieving process.
  • Open to Hope: inspirational stories for handling the holidays after loss by Dr. Gloria Horsley Getting through the hectic holiday season can be especially tough when you re grieving the loss of someone you love. There may even be more than one cherished person missing from your Thanksgiving table this year. When you and your family are grieving, how do get through the demanding days ahead, filled with social gatherings, gift shopping, and holiday cheer you may not be feeling? You will find plenty of practical advice and encouragement from these heartfelt stories and articles contributed by the writers at the Open to Hope Foundation. Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley, a mother-daughter team, created Open to Hope in 2008 to provide interactive forums with a simple mission: helping people find hope after loss. They, along with many of the Open to Hope contributors, have navigated many of the same confusing, anxiety-producing decisions, and other potentially tearful moments, you may be coping with now.
  • Pepper's Dragons: a tale of hard times, hope and healing by Stacia Bjarnason, PhD Pepper’s Dragons is a children’s story book written by Stacia Bjarnason, PhD, a clinical psychologist who has been helping some of the children of Sandy Hook since 12/14. She has found that working with fairy tales can give children a safe way to talk about grief and trauma in a less threatening way. Pepper’s Dragons got its start when Pepper, the real bunny, went for a visit to Sandy Hook to help children there. He had the same sort of curious caution as some of the children. When he was startled by a loud noise it led to a wonderful conversation about how “jumpy” some of the children felt. It was a very natural and easy shift into talking about a difficult subject.
  • The Shack by Wm. Paul Young A father, having received an invitation apparently from God, goes to spend a weekend at the abandoned shack where his daughter may have been murdered. What he finds there will change his world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant, "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?"
  • Weird is Normal When Teeenagers Grieve by Jenny Lee Wheeler Teens grieve differently from adults and often get lost in the shuffle after the death of a loved one. Weird Is Normal When Teenagers Grieve is unique because it is a self-help book for grieving teens written by an actively grieving teen. Author Jenny Lee Wheeler lost her father to cancer when she was fourteen and validates for her peers that they have the right to grieve in their own way and according to their own timetable.
  • When a Friend Dies: a book for teens about grieving & healing by Marilyn E. Gootman, Ed.D. The death of a friend is a wrenching event for anyone at any age. Teenagers especially need help coping with this painful loss. This sensitive book answers questions grieving teens often have, like “How should I be acting?” “Is it wrong to go to parties and have fun?” and “What if I can’t handle my grief on my own?”
  • When Nothing Matters Anymore: a survival guide for depressed teens by Bev Cobain, R.N.,C. This book, written for teens, defines depression, describes the symptoms, and explains that depression is treatable.