10 books to help kids understand divorce and separation

Parenting

Divorce and separation can be just as challenging for kids as it is for their parents, but reading books about these topics is a good way to help normalize the change. Books also help children to understand and articulate their feelings and experiences, and offer a jumping-off point for conversations. When books reflect a child’s new family structure, they also feel more comfortable and seen as a person.

Some books are non-fiction, which help to teach kids the facts about divorce, with lots of reassurance that your parents love you even if they don’t get along with each other. Others tell the stories of families of different shapes and sizes, including single-parent families and blended families. 

With any book on a sensitive topic, pre-read it before sharing with your child to make sure it is a good fit with your family’s values and your kid’s level of understanding. You can always change a few things as you read or break the reading up over a few days. Most importantly, use these books to help build conversation and connection with your child, in whatever way works for you. Here are 10 books that deal with divorce and separation.

All Kinds of Families, Written by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Lang, Random House Books for Young Readers (Infant to 4)

This hilarious board book is the perfect way to teach your little one that their family is right just the way it is. Written and illustrated by husband and wife team Suzanne Lang and Max Lang, the creators of Grumpy Monkey, this little rhyming book is sure to delight. typebooks.ca

You Make Your Parents Super Happy, Written and illustrated by Ricky K. Chandler, Jessica Kingsley Publishers (Ages 2 to 6) 

The magic in this book is that it starts out grounded in the unconditional love that parents have for their kids, and stays with that love even as it goes on to talk about separation. It’s a simple book, but a great start, and one to come back to again and again. amazon.ca

Luna Loves Library Day, Written by Joseph Coelho and illustrated by Fiona Lumbers, Andersen Press (Ages 2 to 6) 

In this story by award-winning children’s author Joseph Coelho, Luna spends the day at the library with her dad. Without any plodding back story, the reader sees the loving relationship that Luna has with both her mom, who she lives with, and her dad, who she is visiting with at the library. This is another book that can be enjoyed by all kids but is especially great for those little ones who might not live with both parents for whatever reason. indigo.ca

The Invisible String, Written by Patrice Karst and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Ages 3 to 10)

Now more than twenty years old, this book is still essential reading for kids and families. The Invisible String reminds us that we’re always connected to those we love even when we’re separated–whether by divorce, death, adoption or just the daily changes of life. There’s also an Invisible String Workbook. indigo.ca

Saturday, Written and illustrated by Oge Mora, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Ages 3 to 8)

The delightful picture book tells the story of Ava and her mom, who have a splendid Saturday together. It’s not a story about divorce or separation, but possibly something even better—a story that normalizes families of all shapes and sizes, including single-parent families (however they’re formed). amazon.ca

Why Do Families Change, Written by Dr. Jillian Roberts and illustrated by Cindy Revell, Orca Book Publishers (Ages 4 to 10)

This is a simple book but with enough detail to answer many of the questions that young children will have about separation and divorce. It presents a wide range of family shapes, sizes, and colours, including common-law families, and emphasizes the fact that divorce is never the child’s fault. It’s the kind of book that families might want to read in bits and pieces to answer questions as they come up.  There’s a detailed section at the back about custody issues that might be helpful for some families. indigo.ca

Malaika’s Surprise Written by Nadia L. Hohn and Irene Luxbacher, House of Anansi Press (Ages 4 to 10)

Malaika’s Surprise  is the third book in the Canadian writer’s Malaika series. Here, Malaika has moved to Quebec to live with her mom and her stepfather and stepsister and learns that her family is expecting a new baby. The reader gets to see the mix of excitement, angst and worry that Malaika experiences as she faces this big change. houseofanansi.com

My Family is Changing: A drawing and activity book for kids of divorce, Written by Tracy McConaghie, Rockridge Press (Ages 5 to 7) 

Telling the stories of seven kids whose parents are or have divorced, this book features a diverse array of families—including those with one mom and one dad, two moms, and two dads. It builds in strategies that kids and families can use to ease the anxieties and sadness of divorce, from a shared calendar to a special stuffed toy. amazon.ca

What Can I Do?  Written by Danielle Lowry and illustrated by Bonnie Matthew, Magination Press (Ages 7 to 12)

Speaking to older kids, this book tells the story of Rosie, who struggles to accept her parents’ divorce. It is only with time, and the support of friends and teachers, and through talking about her feelings, that she begins to heal. indigo.ca

Divorce is Not the End of the World, Written by Zoe and Evan Stern and Ellen Sue Stern, Tricycle Press (Ages 10 and up)

This book was written by two young teens, Zoe and Evan Stern, and their mom. Written a few years after experiencing a divorce themselves, it’s a relatable book for tweens and teens, who might be experiencing all the complex feelings around their parents’ separation or divorce. amazon.ca

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