Using Books to Talk to Children About Divorce

Children’s books about divorce can help them work through the issues they face. Reading books can give children a way to express their emotions and discuss issues that they may not otherwise be comfortable talking about.

Parents also may benefit from these books by learning common things that children of divorce experience.

It’s not your fault, KoKo Bear
By Vicky Lansky
1998, Book Peddlers

This book is designed for parents and children ages 3 to 5 years to read together. Each page provides a large picture to show what is happening in the story and includes messages for parents. The messages for parents help make a connection between the story and what happens to children in real families. KoKo Bear faces situations that help him learn what divorce means, and that he is not to blame for the divorce. He is helped to talk about his feelings, and is told that he is still loved by both parents. Daily events that children and parents may have to face differently due to divorce are presented and problems are solved through talking, sharing, and special activities.

Dinosaurs Divorce: A guide for changing families
By Laurene Krasney Brown and Marc Brown
1986, Little Brown and Company

This award-winning book is designed for parents and young school-aged children to read together — at least the first few times. Stories are presented in a cartoon strip pattern and organized around topics that are recognized as important for children experiencing the divorce of their parents. Issues such as why parents divorce, living with one parent, having two homes, telling friends, parents’ new partners, and celebrating special occasions are discussed. Solutions to problems that may come up are seen through the actions of the dinosaur children and their parents. A table of contents and a glossary are useful for children who may chose to re-read specific stories. The artwork is very appealing to children.

How do I feel about: My parents’ Divorce
By Julia Cole
1997, Copper Beach Books

This book is written for older school-aged children with some reading skills, but should be read at least the first time with a parent so that the child may ask questions. The table of contents outlines the topics covered in the book: what is divorce? why does it happen? difficult feelings, and feeling O.K. A variety of photographs of different children and cartoon illustrations expand on the text to show that everybody lives in a situation that is unique. Children will gain an understanding that they are not alone in having their parents divorce and that there is more than one way that problems may be faced or solved. Pictures of daily life events and hassles show the reader that situations can get better.

Pre-Teen Pressures: Divorce
Debra Goldentyer
1998,  Steck-Vaughn Company

This book, written for pre-teen readers, covers a wide range of issues, some of which may be applicable to your family situation. Because this book deals with a wide range of topics, you should read it before going through it with your children. This book discusses common changes that take place for divorcing families. A variety of families are presented to show that there are many reasons why marriages end (affairs, violence/abuse and alcoholism). A variety of family stories are used to show that individuals adjust differently, make different decisions and move on to new relationships at different speeds. Photographs are used and include colorful titles. Divorce is presented clearly as an event that is shared by many families who deal with it in a variety of ways. The children’s roles in their adjustment to divorce are emphasized.

University of Missouri-Columbia
Sara Gable, State Specialist, Human Development and Family Studies
Kelly Cole, Extension Associate

Copyright 2002 University of Missouri.
Published by University Extension, University of Missouri-Columbia.

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