Monday, September 6, 2010

A Case for Sad Books

There is a little girl inside of me. She is alive and sometimes she is very sad. I read this picture book for her.

We need sad books.
They remind us that grieving people still smile. And maybe they need someone to look behind their smile. Maybe...

We need sad books.
They hold our hands and sit on our laps. They whisper things like "It's okay. I understand. I too have been sad."

We need sad books.
They remind us that sad is okay. It is not bad. It is just sad.

We need sad books.
Sometimes life is sad. At times like that a happy book won't do. It feels wrong. Like know one thinks you have a right to hurt. Reading 'Happy' is like sandpaper to open wounds when all you want to do is have your 'Sad' be noticed.

We need sad books.
They give us words to say to the hurting people we care about when we ourselves are out of words. They give us words to share with children who know what sad is, who might be sad, or who just wish someone big would tell them that sad is okay.

Michael Rosen writes:

"Where is sad?
Sad is anywhere.
It comes along and finds you.
When is sad?
Sad is anytime.
It comes along and finds you.
Who is sad?
Sad is anyone.
It comes along and finds you."

At the end of his book he says, "There must be candles."
I agree.
Even in the sadness, there must be candles. This book, Michael Rosen's Sad Book, is a candle.

We need sad books, because they light a little light.
They are the hope that we are not alone. Even in sadness.
Someone else was there. They wrote about it.
Some one else is here. They bought the book.
And they want you to know they care.

Buy the book for the person inside you who knows what sad is.
Or give the words away to some who you desperately wish you had words for.

We need sad books.
Light a little light.

I am giving away one copy of this picture book to the person who, in my humble opinion, comes up with another great reason why we need sad books. You have until Friday this week to enter. Leave your response in the comments section of this post. No extra points for tweeting or posting on Facebook, but that would be nice :)


  1. We need sad books to remind us that when we're happy and our life is going along OK that we need to have compassion for those who aren't quite there yet...
    and to appreciate where we are and where we have come from.

  2. We need sad books, so the world can feel what sad is like without having to go through the real, actual, gut-wrenching pain. The world can then try to work out what we can do to help sad people.

    Tabitha I love your blog - Just had to say that. It is as if you know exactly what I need to hear.

    Have you read 'The red tree' by Shaun Tan. It is also brilliant, and covers a similar topic.

    You have inspired me to review it on my blog :)

  3. Kylie- love that! Yes indeed we do all need compassion. I think how much softer the world would be without the judgment.

    A Misinterpreted Wave- you are making a girl very happy :) I am glad my words matter somewhere outside myself :) I am now off to read that Shaun Tan book. Have you read his book 'The Arrival' ? VERY good :)

  4. Sad books sometimes bring a beauty we did not yet know we possess. In turn lights the candle for all to see.

    What a joy it is to read your blog and the way your thoughts just seem to flow.

    Wish my mind ran than smooth :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  5. We need sad books to teach us how to fly
    Sad words are written to make us cry.
    Tears flow from inside the heart,
    Released to allow rebirth to start.
    Without sad books we could not cope,
    As humans we thrive on sadness, love and hope.

    (I enjoyed my visit here today. You have a new follower. Karen Walker's memoir is amazing, she is a great blogging friend).

  6. Thank you Glynis and welcome to the blog. I especially love that last line. sadness love and hope. Yes. All three. I agree :)

  7. I work with an over-coffee'ed, bouncy, relentlessly cheerful woman who basically thinks that telling somebody to "cheer up!" will solve their sadness. That, or golf. Some mornings, it would cheer me up to tape her mouth shut.

    All that just to did sadness become taboo? Sometimes I'm happy. Sometimes I'm sad. They both bear gifts.

    PS--I think it so neat that you do these book giveaways!

  8. I like sad books. Sometimes reading one is the only thing that can spring my tears from their locked place in my soul.
    ~ Wendy

  9. Wonderful things to think about. I will consider some aspects of sadness for my childrens' books. :O)

  10. Awesome Diane.

    Oh Wendy. That is me too.

    Hey Shay. Yep. Both bear gifts. I agree girl :) Hey... tape her mouth. For me. Please? :)

  11. sad books connect me to my past but help me relish my future. That's beautiful

  12. Oh, what a beautiful book, Tabitha!
    Rainy Day People need to know that the rain is a normal cycle in life. Without tears to water our soul, could we truly find kinmanship with others who hurt?

    If literature is to teach, to connect, to help is feel, ALL emotions should be studied.

    Even, ESPECIALLY sad
    I go to places only sad people go,
    I know things that only sad people know
    Yet where there is life, there is hope
    You gotta believe in something, I suppose...
    (snippet of song from Daniel Bailey's CD)

  13. I know when I read something sad, it makes me appreciate what I have that much more.
    Have a great day.

    Thoughts in Progress

  14. Hi Tab,

    I love 'The Arrival' it's so powerful ... maybe some of our Aussie pollies should read it; it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in that room.

    I reviewed 'The Red Tree' on my blog, so there is a link for you to check, but if you 'you tube' 'the red tree' someone has put together a nice montage to get you inspired :)

  15. Reading sad books to me a way of appreciating all the good things in life, we all expereience sad times one way or another . Also it's good for us to read that there are people in the world worst off than our selves and that we should count our blessings.

    Excellent post Tabitha,

    Have a good day.

  16. Sadness causes us to feel and hurt deeply - reminding us that we are real and that life is precious.

  17. Oh..I really want to say something wonderful here, but who can say it better than what you have above? Really beautiful thoughts.

  18. Great post! Yes we all need sad. Otherwise how would we know or appreciate happy.

    There is an award over at Inkpots n' Quills for you. Pop over and collect it. Have a wonderful and happy Monday. :)

  19. Oooh, I love this post to pieces. My book doesn't end Happily Ever After, because I don't think life is reflective of this. Life simply moves on, and sometimes it's sad. That's why we need sad books.

  20. I love sad books... those books where I finish the last page and I've been blubbering for hours and hours.

  21. Sad books are a bit like sad films... they present reality and you see it through your own eyes and experience... so my tears can be more than yours or vicevera... but we all have something in common> this inner connection, which makes a book be sad, whatever...

    Great post!
    I'd been missing you ;)

  22. We need sad books so we can say, "Oh, yes. Other people are sad sometimes too. It's an okay feeling to have."

  23. Hi Tabitha. Thanks for joining me at TLS Poems, and for the introduction to your blog.

  24. Sometimes sad books offer a release to a place where our own aches and agonies exist. They offer companionship in a tear and a sob. Then they encourage you to heave a deep breath before climbing back up to the place you spend every day, stepping forward and moving on, in spite of sadness that lurks, almost always.

  25. I agree Liza, sad books help you express your emotions, memories and pain through someone else's journey. It feels safer and less devastating than to relive your own 'back story'. Especially after a lifetime of honing and perfecting the skills of memory suppression, denial and the compartmentalising the various chapters of our lives. xx

  26. Can't think of any special reason, but I like sad books, sad movies, and sad songs--especially when they are poignant or bittersweet. If I didn't have a nice dose of sadness now and then, I might become wackily happy and people would think I was really weird. Can't go around being happy all the time.

    Tossing It Out

  27. I don't think I'm saying anything fresh here so you don't have to enter me, but I think this is another lovely post. We need sad books because sadness is real; everyone feels it sometimes. Just knowing someone else has gone through something similar (whatever the topic), and seeing how they moved past it--or didn't--can help us pick up the pieces and carry on.

  28. I agree with all these. Thanks for entering guys and gals.

  29. yes! because being sad is ok. when everyone says to cheer up... sometimes its ok to sit in sad for a bid.

  30. What a wonderful post! We need sad books to make us realize the value of what we have been blessed with. It makes us grateful for what we have and have taken for granted.

  31. Yet another beautiful post. We need sad books to remind us that we are emotional beings with needs and wants living in a world that often forgets. And if you're never sad, you don't appreciate what it feels like to be happy.

  32. Thank you for sharing on this topic and having this idea TB. Blessings to you.

  33. I agree about sad books. As long as they end with those candles.

  34. I actually love sad books. Most of my stories have large portions of sadness in them. It's a part of life. We all hurt at times, we all feel alone and sad and despondent. Sad books remind us that we're not alone, that it's not just us suffering. When we find others who have been there, who understand, we feel a tiny bit of hope that we, too, will make it out, back into the light.

  35. Tabitha, thank you, thank you, this is just what I needed; you are such a visionary.

    We need sad books because sometimes the stars have been crushed and there is nothing else to thaw ice-ridges. And because day is day, but night is very seldom simply night.

  36. We need sad books because the soul is not a clown's face, always happy, but the essence of who we are and all the emotions.

    Tab, I'm finally getting back into the routine after too much going on...missed your writing. Gonna have to scroll back and feast on your posts!

  37. Mmmmm. Love this. Not enough can be made of Quentin Blake's illustrations, too. I love the need for candles as well. So often we bury sadness in the dark.

    I think we need more sad books because happy can't be fully felt without a complete acceptance of sad.

    Thanks, Tab, for this thoughtful post.

  38. Lovely post -- I couldn't agree more. I've had an idea for a "sad" book sitting in my head for a while, but I haven't really given myself permission to write it. I thought it was just too sad. Your post might be just what I needed to hear!

  39. We need sad books so our eyes can take in and release the tears held in our hearts.

  40. We need sad books because when our grandma's die, there will be someone who gets it, even nine months later, when I turn to a picture of myself in her backyard, wearing her cream and gold square dance one, the one she used to pin together in the back so it would fit (I was only 8 years old at the time), I know it's OK to cry. Still. Rivers.

  41. I can't think of anything new to why we need sad books... I just like them.. oh wait! They are good for clearing the eye ducts! ;)
    Beautiful post -- as always
    W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey