Families go through all kinds of transformations, but one of the hardest family changes for kids is divorce. There are a number of “bibliotherapy” books designed to help children talk about their feelings, but what my own kids found (and still find) most helpful are the well-written stories showing characters dealing with the sorts of issues they are facing. Here are some books with characters that show the range of emotions kids can experience during a divorce as well as the strategies they learned to find peace in their new family situation.
For the youngest readers:
Living with Mom and Living with Dad by Melanie Walsh (Candlewick, 2012) This simplest of picture books is perfect for young readers. A little girl shows that even if life at her mom’s is a little different from life at her dad’s, she is loved and cared for in both places. Bright colors and flaps to lift make it fun to read.
Waiting for the Magic written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Amy June Bates (Atheneum, 2011) William, his mom, and his little sister Elinor come home from the animal shelter with four dogs and a cat, and yet the house still feels a little empty without Papa. Elinor can hear the animals talking because she is one of those who know magic, one of “the young, the old, the brave, the honest, the joyful”. William doesn’t believe in magic, not even when Papa returns. Rebuilding the family takes bravery and hard work, but in the end, the magic is felt by them all.
For the older readers:
42 Miles by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer (Clarion, 2008) To her mom, she is Ellen; to her dad, she is Joey. In economical verse that cuts a clear path to the heart, JoEllen tells what it is like to be divided between two homes that are separated geographically by 42 miles and emotionally by worlds of differences. “With every mile the landscape changes – trees and fields morph into tall city buildings, winding country road into six-lane highway – and Joey transforms into Ellen, though no one notices but me.”