Parenting can be hard, but parenting through divorce is harder. Whilst we grapple with our own emotions we must ensure our children have the knowledge and understanding they need. Thank goodness for a wonderful range of children’s books that deal with divorce and separation.
Whether it’s a colourful picture book or a sensitively-targeted chapter book, they are an extremely powerful resource no single parent should underestimate.
You don’t have to look far to find some real game-changers. Many are written by children psychologists or formed from years of research. Hidden within the words or illustrated pages are thoughtfully targeted messages that provide advice, understanding and coping mechanisms. They are straight-forward, honest, comforting and stigma-free. Furthermore, books can ease the sense of isolation your child may feel as they relate to fictional characters dealing with experiences similar to their own.
12 Books to help your children cope with separation and divorce
Below is a list of 12 books for varying age-groups which may offer your children an enjoyable form of solace and support.
SEPARATION & DIVORCE BOOKS FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN
Was it the chocolate pudding? (Age 2-6)
By Sandra Levins and Bryan Langdo
This story deals with the confusion that children can feel as the result of a divorce. Two brothers make a mess with some chocolate pudding and believe it to be the reason their parents have separated. The mother explains this is not the case. She also covers age-appropriate explanations of other potentially bewildering issues such as joint custody and single parent homes.
My Super Single Mum (Age 2-7)
By Bronwen Fallens
A feel good book at it’s very finest. This simple story is about a little girl, her single mother and all the incredible fun they have together. It gives a sense of a special relationship between the characters and a wonderful life – which can be even better than that of a two parent family. With emphasis on families not always being conventional, but still being happy and fun-loving.
Mum and Dad Glue (Age 3-5)
By Kes Gray and Lee Wildish
The creation of an award-winning author, the simplicity of this story is guaranteed to engage and comfort young children. A trustingly beautiful tale of a little boy who tries to find some glue to stick his mum and dad back together and to stick their smiles back on. The rhyming text imparts a powerful message reminding children that the parental love is still as strong as ever.
Two Homes (Age 3-5)
By Claire Masurel
With comforting optimism, this book focuses on a little boy called Alex and his difficulties getting accustomed to living between two homes. It explains how although his circumstances have changed, one thing always remains the same, which is that he is still loved. The matter-of-fact style of writing makes light of what can be a big issue. It concentrates on what is gained when parents separate, rather than what is lost.
When My Parents Forgot How To Be Friends (Age 4-7 years)
Jennifer Moore-Mallinos and Marta Fabrega
The bright pages of this book follows a young girl coming to terms with her parent’s separation. It teaches that although many things have changed in her life, her parents will always be there and still love her. This is accompanied by a parallel message of reassurance that the separation is not her fault and an understanding that by living in separate houses her parents may get along better
Two Birthday Cakes (Age 4-8)
By Danielle Jaku-Greenfield
Using a gentle, tell-it-like-it-is tone this book is targeted at children coming to terms with shared parenting. The story follows two siblings and examines a range of family situations in a realistic and straightforward way. It considers the practicalities of two houses and the not-always-good emotions associated with it. Eye-catching illustrations even allow children to colour in the pages.
SEPARATION & DIVORCE BOOKS FOR OLDER CHILDREN
It’s Not The End Of The World (Age 8-13)
By Judy Blume
This emotional story follows Karen, an 11 year old girl, as she navigates her parent’s separation. It depicts her journey from desperation for them to stay together, to awareness that this won’t happen and eventually an acceptance of reality. It covers the frustrations and sadness of the situation, the value of good friends and how, in time, it’s possible to readjust and feel happy again.
The Case of the Scary Divorce (Age 9-12)
By Carl Pickhardt
An unusual yet refreshing way of dealing with divorce issues, this book is about a ten year old boy with a helping investigator called Professor Skye. Between them they have to solve eight cases which deal with topics encountered during his parents break-up and divorce. Covering topics in this style is particularly helpful for boys who may not otherwise consider their feelings as closely.
Horse Dreams (Age 9-14)
By Mary Vivian Johnson
A touching story about a young girl’s struggle to deal with her parent’s separation, divorce and second marriage. It covers worry and challenges that can effect preteens/teens in a similar position, as well as other school related issues. An emotional read with an over-riding vibe of hope and forgiveness. Great discussion questions throughout the book encourage the reader to consider their own circumstances.
Candyfloss (Age 9 to 14)
By Jacqueline Wilson
An endearing story of 12 year old Floss, who has to cope not only with her parent’s divorce but with her mother and her new family moving to the other side of the world. This book presents the difficult choices that may have to be made and the emotions that accompany them. A riveting yet tender storyline demonstrates how even the hardest decisions can be made and overcome with parental love and support of good friends.
The Suitcase Kid (Ages 9-14)
A heart-warming, realistic read about a young girl who lives week on/week off between her two step families, feeling she doesn’t really fit into either. It follows an unusual yet compelling structure as the chapters work through the letters of the alphabet. Dealing with upsetting issues which some children will find comfort relating to, it retains a perfect balance of sadness and comedy with a feel-good happy ever after.
Goggle Eyes (Ages 12-16)
By Anne Fine
This book cleverly combines comedy and charm in the story of school girl, Kitty, who is dealing with the post-divorce trauma of her mother’s new boyfriend. She shares her feelings with her friend who is also from a broken family, but who has different circumstances and opinions. Her journey to learn how to accept change, however difficult, is sensitive yet amusing, making it an un-put-downable preteen read.