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Before I became a freelance writer, I was a counselor at a school. I worked with kids from preschool through high school. The hardest cases for me were working with kids who came to my office for the first time trying to cope with divorce. It was always so hard to watch a child sit in front of me and literally sob because their little world was shattered by their parents’ separation.
My maternal instincts wanted to hold the child and tell them it was going to be okay. I obviously didn’t, as that would be totally unprofessional of me as a counselor, and the reality was that it most likely wasn’t going to be okay.
It most likely was going to hurt like hell.
It most likely was going to bring out feelings of anger that they didn’t even know existed.
It most likely was going to feel like their little world was going to end.
But in it all there is hope. There’s always hope.
Children enjoy reading books when they can find something in common with the characters in the story. The books below are not “how-to” books per say, but they help children walk through the difficult and confusing emotions that accompany divorce. After reading Horse Dreams by Mary Vivian Johnson, I was inspired to write this article because she does such a great job at helping the reader relate to the characters and the situation. I personally have not gone through a divorce in my life, but reading Horse Dreams I was drawn in and before I knew it I was relating to Becky’s tragic situation.
Keep these resources on hand as you never know what hurting or confused child might cross your path looking for answers, hope but most of all just a listening ear.
Here are 10 fabulous picture and chapter books that will help your student, child, or friend who finds themselves in the midst of a divorce.
1. Horse Dreams by Mary Vivian Johnson
Horse Dreams by Mary Vivian Johnson is a wonderful book to have children ages 9 and up read. I just finished reading this book and from a counseling perspective, I found it to be filled with lots of nuggets of encouragement that touch on some of the challenges that come with a divorce. The main character is a sweet girl who is trying to cope with her parents divorce on her own and thankfully a caring adult interferes with her unhealthy coping mechanisms and helps her find hope.
2. Amber Brown Sees Red by Paula Danziger
Amber Brown Sees Red by Paula Dan Ziger is a book for kids between 1st — 3rd grade. This book with help children empathize with the character whether they are personally going through divorce or not. The character is fun and hilarious so you will find yourself laughing, even while you are crying.
3. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary is perfect for children in grades 3rd — 7th. Leigh, the main character in the story, describes his confusion at home over his parent’s divorce and being friendless and picked on at his new school.
4. When My Parents Forgot How to Be Friends by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
When My Parents Forgot How to Be Friends by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos is a great book for younger children ages 3 — 8, though some readers shared that their older children enjoyed it as well. “This sensitively written book assures boys and girls that children are in no way responsible for their parents’ inability to get along together. It lets kids know that although one parent chooses to move away from the home, both parents continue to love their little boy or girl.”
5. Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? by Carol Gordon Ekster
Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? by Carol Gordon Ekster is a great book for kids who are in grades 2nd grade — 7th grade. “Ever wake up and not know where you are? Not sure if your homework is due today or tomorrow? Can’t remember if you have hockey practice tonight? Forgot your homework at your Mom’s and now you’re at your Dad’s and can’t get it done?”
This will help counselors and teachers help ease into some dialogue on this topic with their students.
6. The D Word by Julia Cook
The D Word by Julia Cook is perfect for kids in grades from 2nd — 6th grade. Julia uses humor but still touches on the hard topic of divorce in this short book.
7. My Family’s Changing by Pat Thomas
My Family’s Changing by Pat Thomas is great book for toddlers on up. “This unusual picture book for younger children explores the issue of divorce. The author of this book is a psychotherapist and counselor and helps children to face their fears, worries and questions when their family is going through a break-up.”
8. The Divorce Express by Paula Danziger
The Divorce Express by Paula Danziger is great for kids ages 10 on up. “Shuttling between her divorced parents, Phoebe is on the “Divorce Express,” a bus on which she spends too much time but where she also makes a startling discovery.”
9. Two Homes by Claire Masurel
Two Homes by Claire Masurel is a great book for kids in grades preschool- 2nd grade. It’s a lighthearted book that doesn’t go into all the emotions of a divorce. It’s more focused on how you’re loved no matter what, even when you’re living in two homes.
10. Do You Sing Twinkle? By Sandra Levins
This is a great book for kids ages 3 and up. “Just as it feels for the young child in Do You Sing Twinkle? living apart from a parent can be a hard adjustment for kids. And, when that parent remarries and has stepchildren, things can get really confusing for kids! Told from a young boy’s point of view, the book sensitively addresses many questions that children may have while adjusting to remarriage and joint-custody situations.”