At least once in a child’s life, they will probably need to visit the hospital for some reason. Going to the hospital can be confusing and scary for kids especially if they need to have surgery and stay overnight in an unfamiliar place.
Local Certified Child Life Specialist, Jessica Ehret, knew that this experience can be very unsettling for children. She works with kids on a daily basis in the hospital, helping them mentally prepare for their upcoming surgeries and stays. She wanted to create a resource that parents, and medical professionals, could use to help kids understand what to expect at the hospital so she wrote The Hospital Bedtime Story.
The Hospital Bedtime Story is a children’s book that is dedicated to children who are, or who have been, hospitalized. The story describes how the hospital environment is perceived through a child’s eyes. It is both educational and comforting, as it provides child-friendly medical references, and demonstrates positive thinking about having to stay in the hospital.
We had a chance to ask Jessica some questions about The Hospital Bedtime Story. Read through our interview and don’t miss a chance to win a copy of the book for your family!
Who is The Hospital Bedtime Story for? What age range do you think would enjoy it?
Jessica: This book is ideal for children ages 4-10. Although the book is dedicated to pediatric patients, it’s a great opportunity for ‘healthy’ children to learn about other children who have been injured, or who have an illness that requires hospitalization. The Hospital Bedtime Story provides a glimpse into ‘the real thing’ as it’s written in a realistic, yet gentle manner. Children can gain a sense of what it would be like to be hospitalized.
The main character’s name is Riley; I purposefully did not label Riley as a boy or girl, nor did I state Riley’s age, or diagnosis. I did this because there is such a wide variety of reasons why a child could be hospitalized, from illness to injury. Also, I wanted the reader to make their own conclusions. Keeping those details ambiguous allows for more children to be able to relate.
Where did the inspiration to write The Hospital Bedtime Story come from?
Jessica: As a Child Life Specialist, I work with pediatric patients & families throughout their hospital visit; this could potentially start with a pre-surgery tour days before their scheduled surgery date, then meeting again the morning of, and again post-operatively, for example. I am the part of a child’s care team that focuses on the their psychosocial needs, while the rest of the team addresses their medical needs. With that being said, at the end of my work day, I wanted to be able to somehow continue my support. I wrote this book so that parents or nursing staff had a resource to offer when Child Life services were not available.
How long have you been a Child Life Specialist? What do you do in this position?
Jessica: I have been a Certified Child Life Specialist since 2014; CCLS specializes in child development and coping as it relates to challenging life events, such as health/medical, trauma, or grief.
Although my technical title is, Certified Child Life Specialist, I introduce myself to families as, “I’m like a teacher in the hospital” because that’s easier for everyone to understand! My role is to educate, prepare, and support pediatric patients through a variety of medical encounters. Since children learn best through play so this is often done in a playful manner, using medical play, activities, books, and comfort items, to name a few. Providing children with accurate, but developmentally appropriate details helps them to feel informed, prepared, and therefore reduces their fear and anxiety toward procedures and the medical world.
Do you have plans to write more books?
Jessica: No plans currently, but always lots of child-friendly thoughts circulating in my mind! 🙂
What was your favorite children’s book from your youth?
Jessica: Shel Silverstein’s books always resonated with me; The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, etc., as well as the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series, all of which were read by the librarian in elementary school.
Do you have children? If so, how old are they?
Jessica: My children are 3 & 5 years old, and in their few short years of life thus far, we have read HUNDREDS of books. My husband and I have read to our children religiously since they were babies. A great time to read is at bedtime- it’s a quiet and calming step parents can take to create a positive connection to bedtime, and it aids in establishing a bedtime routine. I encourage all parents to ‘give up’ 15 minutes every day to read tangible, physical books! Reading offers bonding time, encourages speech and language development, and encourages imagination and creativity
Have you always wanted to be a writer / published author?
Jessica: I have to say, it was not on my bucket list! However, I am passionate about child development, children’s well-being, children’s books, and I feel my experience level and direct involvement with pediatric patients made this the best fit possible. Knowing the process well, and even wanting to utilize the book myself as a resource in my daily work, was enough justification to make it happen!
Where can you buy The Hospital Bedtime Story?
You can get a copy of The Hospital Bedtime Story at the following retailers:
Amazon (Paperback version)
Amazon (Kindle version)
Want to win a copy of The Hospital Bedtime Story? Head to our Facebook page and comment on our post! We’ll pick a winner on October 16th!