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Booklist for Children and Families

The following is a collection of books that may be found at your local library, bookstore or online. The books are divided into two lists: books on supporting children and families coping with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and books to support children and families coping with grief and death. Within these categories the book lists are divided by the age that each of these books is directed toward.

Supporting Children and Families Coping with the Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer


Our Mom has Cancer, Ackerman, Abigail, 2002, Ages 4-8

Barklay and Eve, Carney, Karen, 1998, Ages 4-8: Provides basic information on cancer in a calm, clear, reassuring manner.

Nowhere Hair, Glader, Sue, 2010, Ages 4-8: Written in playful rhyme, this book helps children understand cancer and treatment. It addresses fear and sadness, being silly and wearing crazy hats

The Invisible String, Karst, Patrice, 2000, Ages 4-8: The invisible string of love that serves as an unending connection that binds us.

The Goodbye Cancer Garden, Matthies, Janna, 2011. Ages 4-8: A family plants and cultivates a garden as mom goes through cancer treatment and recovery.

The Hope Tree: Kids Talk About Breast Cancer, Numeroff, Laura Joffe, 1999, Ages 4-8: 10 accounts of animal characters and their struggles as their moms deal with breast cancer.

The Feelings Book, Parr, Todd, 2005, Baby/Toddler: Cartoon board book on feelings

Metu and Lee Learn About Breast Cancer, Sachedina, Shenin, 2006, Ages 4-8

A Pillow for My Mom, Sgouros, Charissa, 1998, Ages 4-8: A young girl struggles with missing and not seeing her mother who has been sick in the hospital.

When Mommy is Sick, Sherkin-Langer, Ferne, 1995, Ages 4-8

Our Dad is Getting Better, Silver, Alex, 2007, Ages 4-8

Our Mom is Getting Better, Silver, Alex, 2007, Ages 4-8

Feelings to Share, Snow, Todd, 2007, Baby/Toddler: A first board book on 11 basic feelings.

Feelings to Share from A to Z, Snow, Todd, 2007, 3 and up: A book encouraging children to name and share their feelings.

Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo: A gentle story explaining breast cancer to a young child, Sutherland, Eileen, 2005, Ages 4-8

Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You, Tillman, Nancy, 2010, Ages 4-8: A story of how the love of a parent is always with their children, wherever they go.

Where's Mom's Hair?, Watters, Debbie, 2005, Ages 4-8: Narrated by the son, includes a simple, direct explanation of chemotherapy and a scrapbook account of treatment and recovery.

Promises, Winthrop, Elizabeth, 2000, Ages 4-8: A young girl describes her day to day life as her mother undergoes treatment for cancer.

Older Elementary/Middle School

Our Family Has Cancer, too!, Beckwith, Christine Clifford, 1998, Ages 9-12: An interactive cartoon book for kids and their families that encourages dialogue between parents and children.

Be the Boss of Your Stress: Self-Care for Kids, Culbert MD, Timothy, 2007, School Age: Teaching children concrete skills on how to manage stress and its associated thoughts and feelings.

You Are Not Alone: Families Touched by Cancer, Grayzel, Eva, 2010, Ages 9-12: Children from around the world share the common bond of living with a family member with cancer.

The Blue Day Book for Kids: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up, Grieve, Bradley Trevor, 2005, School Age: Short, playful, wise book of animal pictures with captions.

A Teaspoon of Courage for Kids: A Little Book of Encouragement for Whenever you Need it, Grieve, Bradley Trevor, 2007, School Age: Playful, encouraging book for younger children facing a difficult time.

Ida B., Hannigan, Katherine, 2004, 9 and up: Beloved book of children about Ida B, a young girl who struggles with the changes in her life following her mother's diagnosis of cancer. Cited as a source of strength by children whose parents have had cancer.

The Rainbow Feelings of Cancer, Martin, Carrie, 2001, Ages 9-12: A young girl's drawings and writing on her experience of having her mother ill with cancer.

Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings: When someone you love has cancer… a hopeful, helpful book for kids, McVicker, Ellen, 2009, School Age: Beloved book to help children understand medical and emotional aspects of a diagnosis of cancer in the family

The Year My Mother Was Bald, Speltz, Ann, 2003, Ages 9-12: A girl chronicles her experience of her mother’s illness: what she learns, how she feels and the way day to day life changes.

Melanie Martin Goes Dutch, Weston, Carol, 2003, Ages 9-12: The adventures of Melanie who goes on summer vacation to Amsterdam with her family and best friend, whose mother has breast cancer

Teen/ Young Adult

Too Stressed to Think: A Teen Guide to Staying Sane When Life makes You Crazy, Fox, Annie, 2005, Teen/Young Adult: Practical, upbeat book about how stress affects the body and the tools one may use to reduce and control stress.

The Blue Day Book, Grieve, Bradley Trevor, 2000, Teen: Short, playful, wise book of animal pictures with captions.

A Teaspoon of Courage, Grieve, Bradley Trevor, 2006, Young Adult/Adult: Playful, encouraging book for someone facing a difficult time.

Both Sides Now, Pennebaker, Ruth, 2002, Teen: The usually very controlled life of a 15 year old girl is turned upside down by her mother's diagnosis of cancer.

When Your Parent Has Cancer, National Cancer Institute, 2005, A Guide for Teens


Another Morning: Voices of Truth, and Hope from Mothers with Cancer, Blachman, Linda, 2006, Adult

A Teaspoon of Courage, Grieve, Bradley Trevor, 2006, Young Adult/Adult: Playful, encouraging book for someone facing a difficult time.

When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children, Harpham, Wendy Schlesse, 2004, Adult

How to Help Children through a Parents Serious Illness, McCue, Kathleen, 1994, Adult

When Someone You Love has Cancer, Murphey, Cecil, 2009, Adult: This comforting book inspires caregivers to seek peace and understanding in their loved one’s situation, learn the importance of active listening, and explore their own feelings of confusion and unrest.

Raising An Emotionally Healthy Child When a Parent is Sick, Rauch, Paula K., 2006, Adult

Can I Still Kiss You? Answering Your Children's Questions About Cancer, Russell, Neil, 2001, Adult

Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer, Van Dernoot, Peter, 2002, Adult

Helping the Family with Death and Grief


When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death, Brown, Laurie Krasny, 1998, pre-school/school: A direct discussion of children's fears and curiosity about death and grief, primarily in a secular fashion.

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages, Buscaglia, Leo, 1982, Ages 4-8 +: A classic story of a leaf who learns that death is a part of life.

The Next Place, Hanson, Warren, 1997, Ages 4-8: Gentle discussion of what will be in the "next place" after life including the ideas timelessness, perfection, love and eternity.

The Invisible String, Karst, Patrice, 2000, Ages 4-8: The invisible string of love that serves as an unending connection that binds us.

Samantha Jane's Missing Smile, Kaplow, Julie, 2007, Ages 4-8: A girl struggles with the feelings of grief after the death of her father and learns to take pleasure in her wonderful memories.

Lifetimes, Mellonie, Bryan, 1983, pre-school/school: Simply written book about how all living things have lifetimes with beginnings and endings and living in between. Sometimes these lives are shortened.

Sad Isn't Bad: A Good Grief Guidebook for Kids dealing With Loss, Mundy, Michaelene, 1998, Ages 5-12: Supportive guide for children to understand the grief associated with losing someone they love. The book assumes the concept of life after death but is sensitive to differences in religious belief.

What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies, Romain, Trevor, 1999, grade school through young adult: Practical question and answer book on death and grief.

Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies, Silverman, Janis L., 1999, School Age: An art therapy and activity book to help children cope with the anticipation of the death of someone they love and the subsequent grief following the death.

Water Bugs & Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children (Looking Up), Stickney, Doris, 2004, All Ages: A very basic tale of a water bug becoming a dragonfly as a way to explain to a young child the loss of someone close who is still not too far away and in a wonderful place.

I Miss You: A First Look At Death, Thomas, Pat, 2001, pre-school/school: A reassuring book on death as a part of life and normalization of the consequent feelings of grief.

Older Elementary/Middle School


Sun & Spoon, Henkes, Kevin, 1997, Elementary/Middle: A boy struggles with grief and remembrance after the death of his grandmother.


Tear Soup, Schweibert, Pat, 2005, All Ages: A modern fable for all about the unique grieving process and the ingredients of each person’s life that go into that process.

Teen/Young Adult

Tiger Eyes, Blume, Judy, 1987, Teen: A 15 year old girl struggles with the sudden death of her father and works to regain her own sense of strength.

You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye, Hermes, Patricia, 1982, midd sch/yng adult: A 13 y/o girl's struggle with her adolescence and how she and her family pull together to brave the death of her mother.

You Are Not Alone: Teens Talk About Life After the Loss of a Parent, Hughes, Lynne B., 2005, Teen


Talking About Death: A Dialogue Between Parent and Child, Grollman, Earl A., 1991, Parents

Preparing Your Children for Goodbye: A Guidebook for Dying Parents, Heddermn, Lori, 2011, Parents

When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses, James, John W., 2001, Adult