Let’s just start by saying: No book is a substitute for having an up-front conversation with your kids about the difficult things in life, and divorce is way up there (maybe below COVID-19, though). But if you’re struggling to find the right words to explain what’s happened to your relationship and what it means for the whole family (or if your child needs some time alone to learn and process what’s going on), children’s books about divorce can be wonderful tools in your survival kit.
“When parents are separating or getting divorced, kids have a huge range of emotions,” licensed child and family therapist Nancy Kislin tells SheKnows. “Providing children with a variety of books to help them identify with different characters and different emotions can be extremely powerful.”
A book can help make a child articulate how they are feeling, says licensed clinical social worker Julia Barthels. “Young children may be aware that there are other families that experience divorce,” she explained. “But they may not know how to talk about the emotions they’re experiencing. Discussing the characters in the book gives them an opportunity to talk about their own experience.” To enhance the experience, Barthels recommends asking reflective, open-ended questions like, “Did you ever feel like him?” or “What do you think about her?”
There’s no shortage of children’s books about divorce. Here are 11 of the best.
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A version of this story was originally published in September 2019.
‘A Tuesday Kind of Love’
This book, according to author Lyndsi Richards, is a tale of “positive separation” and is based on her experiences as a single mom of twins. In the book, of course, it’s primate parents who are splitting up after mom Lani and dad Kanoa realize they want different kinds of lives.
“They continue to show gratitude towards each other knowing it is important for the children to see and understand by example,” Richards writes.
In Two Homes by Claire Masurel, Alex lives with his daddy in a suburban home some of the time, and with his mommy in a city home the rest of the time. This is one for reassuring your child that both parents love them, regardless of where they live. Ages 3 and up.
‘Standing on My Own Two Feet’
An illuminating yet gentle book about divorce for younger kids, Tamara Schmitz’s Standing on My Own Two Feet helps them find the inner strength to see the positives in the new family setup. Ages 3 and up.
‘The Invisible String’
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst (illustrated beautifully by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff) isn’t specifically about divorce, but it’s perfect for any young child experiencing separation anxiety or loss. They might not have both parents in the home any more, but an “Invisible String made of love” ensures they’re always connected. Ages 3 and up.
‘My Two Homes’
It’s refreshing to read a kids’ book that portrays post-divorce life as normal — even fun. My Two Homes, by Claudia Harrington, does just that. Skye has a great relationship with all her parents, including her stepfather, which makes this a great choice for young kids in blended families. Age 4 and up.
‘Divorce Is the Worst’
As part of Anastasia Higginbotham’s Ordinary Terrible Things series, the humorous, honest Divorce Is the Worst isn’t a sugar-coated take on divorce, but the message to the young reader is clear: it isn’t your fault. The collage-style artwork is modern, refreshing and engaging. Ages 4 and up.
‘Always Mom, Forever Dad’
Not all kids’ books about divorce need to have a narrative. Always Mom, Forever Dad by Joanna Rowland gives young readers comforting perspectives from kids who’ve been in their situation. And Penny Weber’s beautiful illustrations depict a diverse range of families. Age 5 and up.
‘Divorce Is Not the End of the World’
Divorce doesn’t have to be the end of the world, and sometimes kids need a great book to drive home that message. The fact that Divorce Is Not the End of the World was written by kids Zoe and Evan Stern (with a little help from mom Ellen Sue Stern) makes this an authentic guide. Ages 8 and up.
‘The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones’
It’s refreshing to find a book about divorce for middle school readers with a male protagonist. Lincoln Jones and his mom have escaped an abusive relationship, but he’d rather not talk about it — until he meets a fellow sixth grader who wants to help. The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones is packed with compassion and humor, and the characters are great. Ages 8 and up.
New York Times bestselling author Sharon M. Draper’s Blended tells the story of 11-year-old Isabella, who feels pulled between two worlds thanks to her parents’ divorce and her divided, blended family. The book tackles some big questions on race and on divorce — “What does it mean to be half white and half black, or to belong to half Mom and half Dad?” — in a thoughtful (and thought-provoking) way. Ages 8 and up.
‘Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids’
Family therapist Isolina Ricci’s Mom’s House, Dad’s House was such a hit with divorced parents that she wrote a version just for kids. Aimed at tweens and teens, this guide will help them deal with disagreements between their parents and confliciting house rules and help them learn to manage stress and difficult emotions.
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