Whether it happens during the holiday season or early in the new year, thousands of children will find themselves experiencing unexpected life changes due to their parents’ divorce.
Age-appropriate books can help children — even teenagers — better understand what divorce means and cope with their feelings. Books can also give the entire family an opportunity to talk about their changed family situation.
Our divorce and co-parenting attorneys read scores of books in search of the ones we consider to be the best; we review our favorites, swap books, and continue to look for the best of the best.
Here’s our Top 10 list of those we consider to be keepers — the ones we’ll never forget.
For Preschool & Early Elementary School Children
• Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids (Isolina Ricci) is packed with practical tips, frank answers, easy-to-use lists, “train your brain” ideas, reproducible worksheets, and things to try when words just won’t come out right.
Children learn how to deal with parents living apart, different schedules, and dueling house rules; how to settle in comfortably at one home or two; and how to stay out of the middle when parents fight. Young children can’t get their parents back together, but they can help themselves get stronger and go on to succeed in life. This book shows them how.
• Dinosaur’s Divorce (Marc Brown) helps young readers understand different divorce words and what they mean; reasons why parents divorce; different parenting scenarios; how celebrating holidays and special occasions are the same — including some ways that they may be different; how to tell their friends about divorce; and what it’s like to live with stepparents and, potentially, new sisters and brothers.
• Two Homes (Claire Masurel) At Mommy’s house, Alex has a soft chair. At Daddy’s house, Alex has a rocking chair. In each home, Alex also has a special bedroom and lots of friends to play with. But whether Alex is with mommy or with daddy, one thing always stays the same – Alex is loved. The gently reassuring text focuses on what is gained, rather than what is lost, when parents divorce. The book’s sensitive illustrations depict two unique homes in all their small details and firmly establish Alex’s place in both of them.
For School-Age Children
• At Daddy’s on Saturdays (Linda W. Girard) is especially appropriate for children who have been told about separation plans in which they will live primarily with their mother and visit their father regularly. The book reassures children that they will have an ongoing relationship with their father after he moves out of the family home.
• Smart Girl’s Guide to Her Parents’ Divorce (Nancy Holyoke) Topics range from how to deal with negative emotions, family changes, and new living arrangements, to tougher issues such as violence and financial troubles. The text has a compassionate tone and sprinkled throughout are answers to questions that readers might have, as well as snippets of advice from girls who have found what works for them.
• Who’s in a Family? (Bob Skutch) This book depicts a variety of non-traditional families, including interracial, single-parent, and those with gay and lesbian partners as parents. Regardless of their differences, or when parents separate, all of the families have love in common. The book features a blank page at the end, so your child can draw a picture of his or her own family.
• The Big D: Divorce Through The Eyes Of A Teen Student Workbook (Krista Smith) Divorce changes families, but it does not have to destroy them. The Big D offers hope and help to teens and their families. Children learn that their parents’ divorce does not have to define their future. Teens and pre-teens can learn how to process their feelings and hurts and find themselves emotionally healthier. It is filled with many practical high-energy activities and hands-on tools to help teens process their feelings.
• Yours Truly (Judie Angell) tells the story of a girl who struggles with growing up after her parents separate. She experiences difficulties in school, tries cigarettes and alcohol, and experiments with sex, but ends up a perceptive and mature young lady. What makes this book so good is the girl’s inner self is presented in an accurate manner.
• How It Feels When Parents Divorce (Jill Knopf) This book can be helpful to pre-teens and teens. It shares the experiences and feelings of children whose parents have gone through divorce. It helps children understand the emotions they are likely going through and how many of their peers are experiencing the same.
• The Divorce Helpbook for Teens (Cynthia MacGregor) tells teenage readers that there aren’t any easy answers on how to get through it all, but this book gives readers several ideas about how to handle the tough questions and issues they face. Chapters include, “It’s Not About You – It Just Feels Like It Is,” “Unfair Tactics,” and “A Life Full of Changes.”
We’ve shared the books we love and hope you will return the favor.
Share with us your favorite books so that we can pass these on during the months to come. Feel free to call me with your A-list of books that help families cope with the changes divorce may bring. My direct line is (781) 708-4527 or drop me an email at Irwin@ThePLGFirm.com.