Books can be quite valuable for helping children and teenagers better understand and cope with a variety of issues, including the subject of divorce. Reading about characters who are going through the same thing and experiencing the same reactions, can truly go a long way toward helping kids to identify their own feelings and beliefs in a non-threatening way.
By: Amanda Robinson, LPC, RPT
Children’s books aren’t just beneficial for kids, however. Many parents struggle to put their thoughts and explanations about divorce into language that balances honesty with empathy. Books written for children can give parents the age-appropriate words they’re looking for when talking with their kids. Ideally, parents and children should read these books together, at least when looking at them for the first time.
The following book suggestions, which are divided by age group, include both fictional stories and “how-to” guides for children and teens. Both of these styles have their merit – fiction stories give children the chance to identify with and learn from a character who struggles with the same problem, and guides provide tips and define grown-up terms in kid-friendly language. Clicking on the title will take you to Amazon page for that book.
Preschool & Early Elementary
Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt (2011)
A story about a little girl who sometimes lives with her mother, and sometimes with her father, but no matter what, always has her canine companion by her side. The text is gentle but clear, with charming illustrations.
It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents and Young Children by Vicki Lansky (1997)
When Koko Bear’s parents get a divorce, the cub experiences anger, sadness, and guilt, and learns to manage these feelings. This book also includes advice for parents on how to help their children cope. The illustrations are a bit dated, but the information is useful at explaining what divorce means, normalizing feelings, and providing reassurance.
Two Homes by Claire Masurel (2003)
A child named Alex discovers that there are good things about having two homes – including two special bedrooms and two sets of friends. Alex also feels loved and safe at both homes. The gender of the child is not specified, making it easy for both girls and boys to identify with Alex.
Was it the Chocolate Pudding? A Story for Little Kids about Divorce by Sandra Levins and Brian Langdo (2005)
A story about a boy who worries that his parents divorced because he made a big mess of his chocolate pudding. This one is great for examining and dissuading children’s feelings of mistaken guilt surrounding their parents’ divorce. In this book, the child stays full time with his father and sees his mother for visits, so it may be especially helpful for children experiencing a similar situation.
Don’t Fall Apart on Saturdays! The Children’s Divorce Survival Book by Adolph Moser (2000)
A guide that addresses common feelings and misunderstandings about divorce, and gives children tips for coping. Reading along with a parent is highly recommended.
On the Day His Daddy Left by Eric Adams and Kathleen Adams (2000)
When Danny’s parents get a divorce, his father moves out, and Danny wonders if the events are his fault. The book answers this question directly but sensitively, and also provides recommendations for parents in talking with their children about divorce. This one is appropriate for both younger and older children.
Through the Eyes of Children: Healing Stories for Children of Divorce by Janet Johnston, Carla Garrity, Mitchell Baris, and Karen Breunig (1997)
A compilation of stories about animal families that are each dealing with different aspects of divorce. With the help of a caring adult, each animal “child” is able to come to a positive solution. This one is appropriate for younger as well as older children.
Middle & High School
Divorce Helpbook for Teens by Cynthia MacGregor (2004)
A guide that answers teenagers’ tough questions about divorce with honesty and sensitivity. Suggestions for coping and communicating with parents are also provided. This one may read a little young for older teens, so it may be best for middle or early high schoolers.
Now What Do I Do? A Guide to Help Teenagers with their Parents’ Separation or Divorce by Lynn Cassella-Kapusinski (2006)
A workbook with exercises and activities to help teens work through their feelings surrounding their parents’ divorce. The language is relatable to adolescents without being condescending.
Split in Two: Keeping it Together When Your Parents Split Apart by Karen Buscemi (2009)
A guide written in comic-book-style illustrations, which gives it a modern and accessible feel. It includes advice from other teenagers who are living in divorced households, and also provides tips for staying organized when traveling between two homes.