The first days of school can be wrenching for both parents and children; we feel that sharp tug on the heartstrings whether our child is walking into primary school for the first time or heading off for college. For a child who needs a little boost of courage and reassurance, we have a picture book to share with them that may be comforting: The Invisible String by Patrice Karst. It’s a gentle story about the pangs we feel when we are away from our loved ones—at a first sleepover, perhaps, or the first day of summer camp—and can give children the words to describe their feelings about change and independence.
The story begins with twins who are frightened at night by a thunderstorm; they run to their mother and don’t want to leave her side. The mother calms their fears about going back to bed by telling about the invisible string: “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love.” She reassures the twins that distance can’t break this invisible string—and neither can an angry moment or an argument. The book’s soothing message is that even when people are separated from each other, they still feel and draw strength from all the affectionate bonds they have made: “Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, you can feel it with your heart and know that you are always connected to everyone you love.”
The Invisible String has been released in two editions; the new paperback has illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff that are less stereotypical (the girl twin imagines being a mountain climber and the boy wants to be a dancer in Paris). In the charming closing spread, children around the globe play together as the twins dream of “all the Invisible Strings they have, and all the Strings their friends have … until everyone in the world was connected by Invisible Strings.” The image reminds us that however much we cherish our bonds with our children, it’s exciting to see them venture into the world and begin to create their own web of loving connections.
Here’s to spinning those invisible strings of love, friendship and community at TCS!