Koopa’s words disappeared

Here is a book I’d recommend wholeheartedly to any parent of a child with Selective Mutism, or any other kind of anxiety-related disorder. The book, written an illustrated by Elaneh Bos, is called “Leo’s Words Disappeared”, and is about a little boy who starts school and discovers that he can’t say a single word there.

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The book follows Leo through a journey to get his words back, and along the way teaches the child and their parent some useful tools for dealing with anxiety. It comes with an accompanying activity journal, which is also amazing, and focuses on developing self-awareness and practicing various tools introduced in the book. The author, Elaneh Bos, herself a parent of a child who had Selective Mutism, has written a number of other books that teach children how to deal with emotions and with their various inner selfs.

I was a bit skeptical when suggesting this book to Koopa one night before bedtime. Not because of the book, but because he is just so self-motivated and in his own bubble, that it’s usually quite difficult to introduce new things to him, let alone new activities, when it’s something initiated by him. But to my surprise, he agreed and it went very well. It was a bit funny at first, because when we read it for the first time, Koopa didn’t seem to make a connection between him and Leo, because at the end he announced “Well, I wouldn’t want that to happen to me!” I don’t know what he thinks happened to his words, but apparently he didn’t make the connection between Leo and himself at first. Then, after a little talking and doing the activity book, he did. Now, he wants me to read this book every day at bedtime, and then we do a couple of pages from the activity journal. We have a lot of fun with it. Sometimes, he decides to read Leo’s part (when he does talk). Sometimes, I change it up and use the names of his classmates instead of Leo’s classmates, and change things Leo says to his classmates at the end to things Koopa would like to say to his friends. So, we’re having a lot of fun with it, and if nothing else, it makes him feel like he’s not the only one in the world whose words have disappeared.

About Tanya Mozias Slavin

Tanya Mozias Slavin is a writer, linguist and a mother of two. She was born in Russia, grew up in Israel and has lived in Canada and the US, where she worked on Oji-Cree, an endangered aboriginal language of Canada. She now lives in the UK and writes about parenting, languages, multiculturalism, and everything in between. Her essays and articles have appeared in Washington Post, Brain, Child, The Forward, Scary Mommy and other places.
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