Helping students in the classroom cope with divorce and family separation is important because children whose parents are divorced are at greater risk for problems such as depression, anger, lower self-esteem, and poor school performance. Children can also experience distress post-divorce for up to 1-2 years. This is why it is so critical to help kids learn to cope with their new family situation. I use children’s books about divorce and family separation as a gateway for opening up discussions in the learning environment. Whether you are a teacher, counselor, or parent, using books to help illustrate a topic is a great way for kids to learn.
I often cover Divorce in my lessons, I use this Divorce Curriculum that covers coping skills and going through the stages of dealing with divorce or separation, and more. I also use this Divorce and Family Separation Workbook for families experiencing separation. Here is a list of some of the awesome children’s books about divorce and family separation out there that I use to help teach this topic to students.
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Title of Book and Author: Why Do Families Change?: Our First Talk about Separation and Divorce by Jillian Roberts
A short summary of the book: As a psychologist, Jillian Roberts writes simply to help children learn about separation and divorce. She begins the book by discussing various relationships such as animals and people and married and common-law relationships. Children learn that their parents’ choices to separate or divorce is not their fault. They also learn that some circumstances leave both parents staying supportive and kind while other situations are more complex, such as custody questions and blended families. The purpose of the book is to create an open conversation between children and adults.
Why I like the book: The illustrations found in this book are very inclusive and diverse in representations of different family structures. Question and answer formatting allows teachers and parents to help young children process information and answer questions about specific circumstances.
The moral of the story: A family is still a family even when parents get divorced.
Topics covered: Family; Separation; Divorce; Family Structure; Love
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Why do families change on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: When My Parents Forgot to be Friends by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
A short summary of the book: Jennifer Moore-Mallinos writes of a little girl whose parents argue and fight. When the girl finds out that her parents are getting a divorce, she starts to blame herself for them not being together. Over time, the little girl realizes that it is not her fault after all. She also learns that her parents still love her and want to make fun memories with her.
Why I like the book: This book encourages children to think about their emotions and talk about them with a trusted adult. It also reassures children that their parents’ divorce is not their fault and happy times can happen again. This topic is relatable and understandable for many children.
The moral of the story: Children are not responsible for their parents’ divorce.
Topics covered: Divorce; Separation; Anger; Confusion; Healing; Family
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): When my parents forgot how to be friends on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce by Tamara Schmitz
A short summary of the book: Addison is just a regular little boy whose parents are getting divorced. He understands that his parents both love him tremendously, no matter what. Two loving, supportive homes to live in can be as empowering as having two strong feet to stand on!
Why I like the book: This book is very gentle and affirming while teaching young readers about divorce. Schmitz understands that divorce looks completely different from a child’s perspective than an adult’s. The colorful illustrations are welcoming to children too!
The moral of the story: Divorce is not a child’s fault. You can still be greatly loved even when your parents are divorced.
Topics covered: Divorce; Love; Positive Thoughts; Family
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Standing on my own two feet on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Fred Stays with Me by Nancy Coffelt
A short summary of the book: A little girl has a dog named Fred. Her parents are divorced. Fred goes with the girl as she travels back and forth between her dad and mom’s homes. Things are different at her parents’ houses, but her dog stays the same. He barks and chews objects no matter where he is. By having her dog always with her, the girl feels a sense of stability.
Why I like the book: This book is great for preschoolers up to third graders. It shows divorce in a realistic way but does not dwell on the negative aspects. Nancy Coffelt uses predictable text to help little ones stay more engaged and participate in reading.
The moral of the story: Not everything has to change when your parents get divorced.
Topics covered: Family; Divorce; Pet Ownership; Friendship; Stability; Conflict Resolution
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Fred stays with me on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Was it the Chocolate Pudding? by Sandra Levins
A short summary of the book: When a young boy’s parents divorce, he thinks it’s because of the chocolate pudding he and his brother smeared all over the wall. If only he had brought a spoon! His mom explains that he is not the cause of his parents divorce, that sometimes things just happen, and that’s OK.
Why I like the book: This book explains the mindset of a kid going through divorce and how they often blame themselves or think there was something they could do to prevent the divorce.
The moral of the story: You are not to blame for your parents divorce.
Topics covered: Divorce; Family Separation
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Was it the Chocolate Pudding on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Where is my Tablet? by Rose-Edith Morgan
A short summary of the book: Donna has bedrooms at 4 different houses, and faces the dilemma so many multi-home children face…forgetting something important in one of her other bedrooms. She is constantly leaving her tablet at one of her homes, it gets frustrating for her!
Why I like the book: This is a wonderful book for kids who are experiencing divorce, separation, or live in multiple homes. One thing that can be frustrating for kids is leaving their stuff at the different homes and not having what they need, this book is all about that as the kiddo leaves her tablet at her different homes. It also happens to be written by a fellow School Counselor and a previous colleague of mine!
The moral of the story: Divorce like any other issue, requires you to form new coping skills and patterns of behavior.
Topics covered: Divorce; Family Separation; Multi-homes.
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Where is my tablet on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Better Together by Amy Robach
A short summary of the book: This story highlights the life of a blended family, the McSquirrellys. The McSquirrellys are made up of a family of squirrels “the Squirrellys” and a family of chipmunks “the McMunks”. A big storm results in both families fleeing their homes for a hollow in an oak tree. It is not easy, but the two families must find a way to live in harmony together. They finally determine that life is much better as one happy family!
Why I like the book: This book highlights a common family structure, blended families. In a playful way, it teaches children that they can find happiness when their family setup changes. Amy Robach encourages children to look for the good in others.
The moral of the story: Be flexible and find common ground with others. Families can be better together!
Topics covered: Family; Blended Families; Family Structure; Love; Compromise; Togetherness; Acceptance
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Better Together on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Far Apart but Close in Heart by Becky Birtha
A short summary of the book: This book is about children whose parents or other family members are incarcerated. It follows different children as they process life with their loved ones being in prison. One boy feels like he has to keep it a secret that his dad is incarcerated, and it causes him so much anxiety. Another boy is mad because his mom promised she wouldn’t go back to jail but ended up there again. A girl is sad because both of her parents are in jail, and she has to live with a foster family. Other children’s situations, their feelings, and their reactions are discussed too. Suggestions for coping to a variety of emotions are given throughout the book.
Why I like the book: Becky Birtha writes of a tough subject with much kindness towards children who are struggling with the reality of their loved ones’ situation in jail. The illustrations in this book include children of different skin colors and speaking different languages. This book also includes a list of resources and tips for caregivers to help children as they process through various emotions.
The moral of the story: It is normal to feel many different feelings when someone you love is incarcerated.
Topics covered: Family; Love; Processing Emotions; Incarceration; Diversity; Inclusivity
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Far apart, close in heart on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: The Night my Dad went to Jail by Melissa Higgins
A short summary of the book: Sketch, a young rabbit, witnessed his father being arrested at their house in front of the neighbors and sentenced to six years in prison. Later, Sketch visits his dad in jail and he apologizes for breaking the law and Sketch struggles with that to say and how he is feeling.
Why I like the book: I love that this book addresses not only the struggle of being apart from a parent in jail but also the trauma of the initial incident that took the parent from them.
The moral of the story: When someone you love goes to jail, you might feel lost, scared, and even mad.
Topics covered: Incarcerated parent.
Where can I purchase this (affiliate link): The night my dad went to jail on Amazon.
Title of Book and Author: Home for A While by Lauren Kerstein
A short summary of the book: Calvin is a little boy in foster care. He so badly wants to be able to trust someone, but he has lived in many homes already and doesn’t feel loveable. He is afraid to be vulnerable and open his heart to someone else. When Calvin moves into Maggie’s home, she is different. Maggie is kind, patient, and respectful to him. She highlights things in Calvin that he never realized before. Calvin begins to consider if Maggie’s home is somewhere he can also call home, even if it’s just for a while.
Why I like the book: This book is helpful to open conversations about different family constructs and how children feel when they are not living with their parents. It also highlights the importance of adults encouraging the children around them. Various calming strategies are also shown in the book.
The moral of the story: Every child has special strengths and deserves to know it!
Topics covered: Family; Fostercare; Adoption; Love; Encouragement
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Home for a while on Amazon
Resources about Divorce and Family Separation
Pair your favorite children’s books about divorce and family separation with these activities to make the perfect classroom lessons. I use this Divorce Curriculum resource that includes everything you need to teach kids to cope with Divorce. For more ideas on the best counseling books for kids, check out this blog post by clicking here.
For both Divorce and Family Separation students, this Divorce and Family Separation Workbook is my go-to resource. Divorce is something a lot of kids experience, it often feels like a wave that is crashing down on your family. This workbook is meant to help you ride the wave, getting through some of the bumps and wipe-outs along the way. By the end of the workbook, you will know how to ride the wave of divorce. You will understand that every scary wave is possible to ride and come out as a stronger surfer kid! This resource is an easy print-and-go or digital learning tool to pair with children’s books about divorce and family separation.
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