This is a book list I hope you’ll never need, but this collection of books about divorce has been very helpful to us lately. When family separation occurs, it’s hard to find the words to say to kids, especially if they aren’t asking questions yet. Reading books about divorce together can start those conversations and help allay some of the fears and anxiety children are experiencing, even if they haven’t quite been able to verbalize them yet.
Because all kids are different and every family situation is different, I strongly encourage you to independently read any book that you select by yourself before presenting it to your children. Not only can you make sure it aligns with what you are telling your children about the separation, but it also helps you to anticipate questions that the book might make kids think of.
Books About Divorce for Kids
Living with Mom and Living with Dad by Melanie Walsh is a great book for preschoolers and young kids. It doesn’t discuss divorce itself. Instead it focuses on the changes that come with having parents who live in separate houses. With flaps to lift on each page, kids see how life is the same but a bit different. At mom’s house there’s a panda night light, and at dad’s there’s a butterfly light. Each page offers something most young kids can identify with. The book also offers reassurance that mom and dad will both be there for special things like school plays and birthdays and that everyone loves her a lot. While this would be good for any preschooler, the family in this book does live very close together so that each parent can pick up the child from school on different days. That may vary depending on your individual situation. This book does not use the word divorce.
Two Homes by Claire Masurel is another book that focuses more on easing a child’s concerns about the transition to two homes. Unlike the previous book, Alex’s parents seem to live farther apart, one in the city and one near the beach. However, the same reassurances are present. In each home Alex has a special place for his coat, a favorite chair, friends, a kitchen and so on. Kids are reminded that no matter where they are mom and dad love them. This book does not use the word divorce.
Standing on my Own Two Feet by Tamara Schmitz does use the word divorce as it introduces Addison’s two homes. Kids are assured that they are safe in both homes. This book touches more on reassuring kids that it’s not their fault but in a way that is gentle and simple enough for preschoolers. It also reminds kids that although other things change, they will always be loved and supported by both parents.
In Mama and Daddy Bear’s Divorce by Cornelia Maude Spelman Mama and Daddy bear sit down with their young cubs, Dinah and Ruth, and tell them they are getting a divorce. In gentle language this book shares some of the emotion and questions kids might feel in those first moments after hearing this news. Reading the book together provides an opportunity to address some of these questions your own child might have. As the story goes on, Dinah and Ruth are reassured that although things will change, Mama will always be mama, Daddy will always be daddy, and sisters will always be sisters.
Oliver at the Window by Elizabeth Shreeve is a good story to read if your child will be starting preschool after a divorce. In the story, Oliver now goes to preschool everyday where he must meet a new teacher and new friends. At first he feels lonely and spends most of his days waiting to see who will be coming to pick him up. But soon he becomes part of the class and is even able to help a new friend who joins the class after him.
It’s Not Your Fault, KoKo Bear by Vicki Lansky is as much a guide for parents as it is for kids. It is a longer text that would probably be best to read and discuss in shorter segments depending on the age of your child. The story begins with MaMa and PaPa telling KoKo that they are getting a divorce. Throughout the text there are many helpful conversations that relate to common questions and concerns kids express. It’s a book that is best read by families where both the mother and father will continue to play an active role in a child’s life.
Max Stays Overnight by Adria F. Klein is a beginning reader. In the story Max and Deshawn are two close friends who are unhappy to spend less time together now that Deshawn’s parents are separated. It shares how the two are able to continue their friendship even though they don’t live near each other all the time anymore. Being separated from friends is another intense feeling of loss for children, and many kids who move will feel this way. This book give you the opportunity to discuss how your child can maintain existing friendships even if they have to move.
I Have Two Homes by Marian De Smet journeys from the time Nina’s parents were happy together, through the time when things changed at home, and on to separation and life in two homes. The illustrations capture the feelings in the story perfectly, and Nina’s narrative captures a child’s feelings and observations during the process very well.
When My Parents Forgot How to Be Friends by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos provides a little more insight into the events leading up to divorce than the other books in this collection. In the story a little girl shares how she felt when her parents argued and when she saw them cry. Once her parents decide to divorce, she shares how she felt sad and feared it was her fault. As the story goes on she shares how she sees her parents happier than they were before and how she knows it isn’t her fault.
Dinosaurs Divorce by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown was recommended to us by a counselor. The book is divided into sections and includes a table of contents so you can easily discuss different questions or issues that kids are asking about at the time . It addresses some aspects that I didn’t see in the other books we’ve read so far–things like telling one parent you have permission to do something when you don’t, telling your friends about your parents’ divorce, and meeting parents’ new friends to name a few.
In Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt a little girl has a constant companion as she travels back and forth between her Mom and Dad’s houses. Her dog Fred is always with her.
Monday, Wednesday, and every other Weekend by Karen Stanton is another story where a pet plays a big part in helping readers understand some of the emotions related to divorce. Henry Cooper and his dog, Pomegranate, live in two homes. Through the story we get a glimpse at what life is like with each of his parents, but somebody is a bit unsettled, Pomegranate. When Pomegranate goes missing everyone searches for him. Henry finally finds him at their old family home where he meets the new child living in the home. Henry confidently reassures Pomegranate that “it’s okay” and shows him the way to move forward. It’s a subtle statement, but those words are powerful. I find myself tearing up at the end of this story each time we read it.
Weekends with Dad by Melissa Higgins walks children through first learning of their parents’ divorce through the settlement process and onto the healing process. It’s an emotional journey that addresses many of the questions and feelings kids might be experiencing. Within the book there is also discussion of dealing with anger related to the divorce, participating in group counseling with peers, and speaking to court officials about custody related questions.
In Was It the Chocolate Pudding? by Sandra Levins a young narrator explains the process of divorce and directly addresses one of the most pressing questions kids have, “Is it my fault?” It’s an important message for kids to hear over and over again. I also found the Note to Parents at the end of the book helpful. It describe different ways to help kids cope with a variety of behaviors you might be seeing.
Mom and Dad Glue by Kes Gray is a rhyming text. The narrator wants to fix his parents’ marriage. With gentle humor this book addresses a child’s desire to make things better but reminds him that divorce is not a child’s fault and it’s not his job to fix it. And even though there’s no glue for hearts there are ways to stay positive and remember that his parents love him.
My Parents are Divorced, My Elbows Have Nicknames, and Other Facts About Me by Bill Cochran reminds kids that their parents’ divorce does not define them. During the separation process it can seem like it does define you, but this book shares all the other ways we are unique (or a bit “weird”) and we are loved no matter what.
On the Day His Daddy Left by Erick J. and Kathleen Adams, is another one in this list that I can’t read without crying. On the day his father moves out Danny writes a secret question on a piece of paper and tucks it away safely. Throughout the day he shows it to his teacher, a friend, his dad, and his mom.
In I Don’t Want to Talk About It by Jeanie Franz Ransom a little girl’s parents are trying to talk to her about their decision to divorce. She repeatedly says, “I don’t want to talk about it.” As she does the reader gets insight into the array of feelings she is experiencing. She wishes she could be prickly like a porcupine so she couldn’t be hurt, and she wishes to be a fish so her tears would fall into the rive and noone would know how much she wanted to cry. In the end she does talk about the decision and finds a bit of reassurance through those chats with her parents.
The message in Two Old Potatoes by John Coy is subtle but powerful. In the story a father and daughter find some old potatoes that they almost throw in the trash. Instead they plant them and begin a new tradition just like they are beginning a new life together after divorce. In the end they have a bountiful harvest of new potatoes. Younger kids may not quite pick up on the message, but it’s definitely worth discussing how in time something good can come from the apparent mess and destruction of divorce.
More Books About Divorce
There is another great collection of books about divorce on No Time for Flash Cards. You’ll find some of the same books we reviewed and more. I always enjoy reading Allison’s reviews, so you’re sure to find additional insight.
And again, I hope you’ll never need this list, but if you do I am sending hugs and emotional strength your way.