Christchurch mosque attack victim’s mother pens free book for kids on dealing with grief

A woman who lost her son in the Christchurch mosque attacks has written a book to help children come to terms with grief.

Aya and the Butterfly is a picture book by Dr Maysoon Salama that is written in both Arabic and English and is now available free to early childhood and primary school-aged children across the country.

Salama lost her beloved son, Atta, in the mosque attacks.

She said she wrote this story for her granddaughter Aya and for other children dealing with loss and trauma.

“Aya’s father’s death is implied, but this is not the story’s focus, and children do not need to know how it happened. They do need to know that sometimes we have to say goodbye to the people and the things we love the most.

“In the face of such overwhelming loss, we must allow ourselves to remember and feel sad, but we must also learn to let go and keep going. There is hope.”

Aya and the Butterfly is part of a four-book series designed to support, reflect, and celebrate the Muslim community in New Zealand.

It has been developed with the Islamic Women’s Council and published by the Ministry of Education through Lift Education.

“The book joins part of a growing collection of learning resources that reflect the diverse culture and perspectives of children and young people across New Zealand,” said Ministry of Education deputy secretary early learning and student achievement, Ellen MacGregor-Reid.

“The book is accompanied by a teaching guide to assist with conversations with learners around the topics of grief and loss, and the cycle of life in general. We thank Dr Salama for trusting us with her story and enabling us to share it widely to all learners.”

The online book can be downloaded for free here from March 15.

Print copies of the book will be delivered to early learning services and schools during term three this year.

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