Helpful books for children going through divorce or separation.
January 26, 2015
If you are going through divorce or separation the emotions you are likely to be feeling may range from anger, shock, denial, envy, loss, desperation, loneliness any many more. Your children are likely to be going through a similar range of emotions and will require the support of both parents to successfully traverse this difficult period of change.
I have often referred clients to the books below to help them and specifically their children deal with the varied feelings that arise during divorce or separation. I have categorised them in age range which I hope you will find useful. Most of these books can be purchased on amazon.
Prism Mediation – Champions of #lifelongparenting
When I Miss You - Cornelia Maude Spelman – This story depicts a young guinea pig who is distressed when her mum and dad go away but she is able to find a way to deal with it. Short and simple with wonderful illustrations.
When My Parents Forgot How to Be Friends - Jennifer Moore-Mallinos - this is a fantastic book for younger children ages 3-8, maybe even slightly older. The central theme to this book is assuring children that they are not responsible for separation and that they are still loved by both of their parents, even if one parent has moved home. This book is particularly good at encouraging children to explore their feelings and discuss them openly.
Two Homes - Claire Masurel - this is not too heavy and does not tread too far into the emotions of a divorce. Its primary focus is how children are loved even when parents are living in different homes.
Do you sing Twinkle: A story about Remarriage and New Family – Sandra Levins – Perfect for ages 3 and up. A story told from the point of view of a young boy adjusting to a new life with a step-parent and step-siblings. One of my favourites.
It’s not your fault, Koko Bear – Vicky Lansky – This book has been around for a while and is widely regarded as a “must have.” This story concerns a little bear who doesn’t want two homes. This book is particularly good at helping children understand divorce (particularly that it is not their fault) and that change will happen.
My Family's Changing - Pat Thomas - is great book for toddlers and upwards. This is a picture book designed to help children voice their fears and worries during the separation of their parents.
Dinosaurs Divorce – Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown – Recommended for ages 4-8. This really is the platinum standard book about divorce and separation and has stood the test of time. It was first printed in 1988 and continues to help children and families address feelings during separation.
I don’t want to talk about it – Jeanie Franz Ransom – This story reveals a range of feelings a young child might experience when a family is confronting divorce.
Was it the Chocolate pudding? A Story for Little Kids About Divorce - Sandra Levins and Bryan Langdo – This engaging book tells the story of divorce in a typical family from the point of view of an engaging young narrator. Readers learn about divorce, and receive age-appropriate explanations of what is happening regarding such issues as single-parent homes and joint custody. But most importantly, the narrator explains that divorce is not the child's fault - it is a grown-up problem. The story emphasizes the need for communication between parent and child and includes a "Note to Parents" by psychologist and author Jane Annunziata, PsyD. This is a fabulous book.
Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child's Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce – Tamara Schmitz – A short story about Addison, whose parents are going through a divorce, but he knows that no matter what happens, his parents will always love him. This is less “in your face” than other books and gently reinforces the message that having two homes can be just as good as having two strong feet to stand on.
At Daddy’s on Saturdays – Linda Walvoord Girard – Originally published in 1987 but the message still resonates. The protagonist discovers that she can keep a loving relationship with her father even though he lives apart from her.
Amber Brown Sees Red - Paula Dan Ziger – is a book for children aged between 6-9. This book will help children empathize with the character whether they are personally going through divorce or not. The character is very funny and this will make parent and child laugh (and maybe cry).
Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? - Carol Gordon Ekster – this book tells the story of Mark and Evan whose lives have felt confused and complicated since the divorce of the parents. This book expertly traverses the common feelings of children in these situations and raises the time honoured concerns children have about homework, PE kit, swimming kit when being shuttled between households. This book addresses how the teachers and parents can help children settle into these routines. This is a personal favourite.
Dear Mr. Henshaw – Beverly Cleary - Leigh, the main character in the story, describes his confusion at home over his parent's divorce and being friendless and picked on at his new school, in letter form to his favourite author as part of his homework. The author responds and the two form a friendship that change’s Leigh’s life forever. This is such a well written book that many children going through divorce will be able to relate to.
Horse Dreams - Mary Vivian Johnson - is a compelling book for children aged 9 and above. It is littered with lots of encouragement for young children adapting to the challenges of divorce.
A smart girl’s guide to her parents’ divorce: How to land on your feet when your world turns upside down – Nancy Holyoke – This book with short and concise chapters focus on negative emotions and how to deal with them, changes to family dynamics and doesn’t shirk issues of violence and financial difficulties.
Rope Burn – Jan Siebold – Don’t be put off by the title! This book is about an 11 year old boy named Richard. His parents are divorced and at school he is tasked with having to use a proverb as a story. This book is very well told through the perspective of an 11 year old boy and his feeling about his divorced parents – such as guilt over secret weekends with his father, moving to a new area and climbing the rope in PE.
The Divorce Express - Paula Danziger – Superb read for children aged 10+. "Shuttling between her divorced parents, Phoebe is on the "Divorce Express," a bus on which she spends too much time but where she also makes a startling discovery." Well written, funny and sad in equal measure, but should be a great tool in assisting your children in understanding their feelings. Modern and slick.
Mom's House, Dad's House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two – Isolina Ricci Ph.D – This book is filled with tips and answers for children and helps them formulate coping mechanisms when they can’t voice their concerns the way they want to. Addresses living in separate households, schedules, managing their stress, guilt or fear and much more.
The divorce helpbook for teens – Cynthia MacGregor – A great guide for teens in dealing with their emotions when parents separate or divorce. This is an engaging guide that stares common issues right in the eye – such as what's likely to happen next, how do you tell absent parents that they don't visit often enough and how do you say "no" to parents who want you to carry messages to, or spy on, the other parent?
Now What Do I Do?: A Guide to Help Teenagers with Their Parents' Separation or Divorce - Lynn Cassella-Kapusinski – Another guide that gets down to the level of a teenager and one in which they can really explore their feelings. This includes exercises and activities that can be undertaken alone or with friends. This is a first class guide and should be of great assistance to a teen going through divorce or separation.