Nobody looks forward to talking about divorce with their children, but it is a fact of life. These children's books about divorce and separation are useful conversation starters, and not just for kids who have divorced parents, but to teach empathy and understanding to all children.
Reading books about divorce can help kids find the words to talk about their feelings, whether it be anxiety, fear, or hope that a bad situation will get better. This list of books contains picture books about divorce as well as beginning chapter, and middle grade books.
Sometimes divorce is the center of the story, other times it is simply an aspect of the characters' lives that influences their actions.
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Standing on My Own Two Feet
by Tamara Schmitz
This is a good book about divorce for preschoolers. It shows Addison, a boy with divorced parents, living a life in which he feels safe in both his mom's and dad's homes. The repetitive text reinforces Addison's knowledge that the divorce is not his fault and that both his parents still love and take care of him.
Fred Stays with Me
by Nancy Coffelt
A girl describes her routine of moving back and forth between her two parents' homes. Her dog, Fred, goes wherever she goes, providing a sense of stability and the companionship she needs during the transitions. Both parents get a little frustrated with Fred, but the girl stands her ground and insists that Fred stays with her. I enjoyed this book because it didn't make a fuss over the girl's living situation, neither was the resolution overly sentimental.
Emily's Blue Period
by Catherine Daly
Amazon | Indiebound
This is another thoughtful book depicting a divorced family. Emily loves art, especially Picasso. Her family situation saddens her and she announces her artistic "blue period." Her art allows her to process the range of emotions she feels about her parent's divorce, allowing the story to come through with out a lot of long, explanatory test.
A Family is a Family is a Family
by Sara O'Leary
In a classroom full of diverse students, a teacher asks the children to describe their families. They are all different. Some have a mom and dad, another lives with their grandparent, another has divorced parents, another step-siblings. There are LGBTQ families, disabled parents, foster families and more. The narrator is a child listening to all of the descriptions and realizes that all families are special because they are made up of people who love each other.
Chapter Books with Divorced Families ages 6-10
Amber Brown is Green with Envy
by Paula Danziger
In this popular series, Amber has divorced parents. But now Amber is getting envious of all the kids who seem to have no problems at all. After all, Amber's mom is getting remarried and her dad is going out on too many dates! Like all the Amber Brown books, this one applies humor and heart to preteen troubles.
Weekends with Max and His Dad; Road Trip with Max and His Mom
by Linda Urban
This is a lovely book about a boy who enjoys spending time with his dad. While not heavy handed, it is clear that Max's parents are separated and readers follow Max as he begins to learn that his dad's home is his home, too. In the second book, Road Trip with Max and His Mom, Max heads out for adventures with mom, learning that his dad will still be okay during his absence.
A Boy Called Bat
by Elana K. Arnold
Third grader, Bixby Alexander Tam, goes by the nickname Bat and exhibits behaviors that place him on the autism spectrum. He flaps his hands and avoids eye contact, but the author never labels Bat "autistic." She simply allows us to see Bat, and all his friends, as unique individuals. Bat's divorced mom is a veterinarian and one day she brings home baby skunk. Bat wants to take care of it and must prove to his mom that he knows what he is doing. Full of wonderful characters and lots of interesting information about skunks, this is an absolutely delightful story.
The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister
by Charlotte Agell
Fourth-grader, India, lives in Maine with her artist mother. India's parents are separated; her dad has a new partner, Richard, and India isn't sure how she feels about him, either. India was adopted from China, and this book tries to stuff a lot in a short chapter book format - but there are plenty of kids who are busy navigating multiple identity issues themselves!
Middle Grade Novels about Divorce (Ages 8 -13)
by Carlie Sorosiak
I really enjoyed this book. It's very unique in that it is narrated by the elderly family golden retriever. Cosmo considers himself to be Max's big brother and his life's work is to keep Max safe. But the family is in turmoil. Max's parents are fighting and Max and his sister are feeling anxious. Max gets the idea to enter a contest by teaching Cosmo a dance routine, which he hopes will make his parents take notice of him and stop fighting. Truly, this is a wonderful, tender story.
The Great Treehouse War
by Lisa Graff
When Winnie's parents got divorced they decided Winnie would spend three days with mom, three days with dad and the day in between in a treehouse that was situated between the two houses. But Winnie has had enough of her parents' ridiculous behavior and she decides not to leave the treehouse until they start to act like reasonable humans. Then, her friends join her, with all the kids hoping to get concessions from their own parents. Who will win the stand-off? A fun, quirky premise which tackles a serious subject.
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate DiCamillo
A run-in with a vacuum cleaner gives Ulysses the squirrel superhero powers! 10 year old Flora, a self-proclaimed cynic and comic book reader dealing with divorced parents becomes friends with this new superhero, and even opens up her cynical heart. The novel uses comic strip style illustrations to tell parts of the story and is wonderfully funny as well as touching.
Dear Mr. Henshaw
by Beverly Cleary
Through letters and diary entries addressed to his favorite author, Leigh Botts works through his feelings about his parents’ divorce, making friends at a new school and the mysterious lunch thief. One of the most appealing aspects of this book is that Cleary realistically conveys the complex and urgent voice of an 11 year old boy. Epistolary novels for children are rare and this one is eminently readable.
Dear Sweet Pea
by Julie Murphy
Sweet Pea's divorced parents live next door to each other in an effort to co-parent their daughter. While Sweet Pea's friendships are undergoing a transition, a neighbor asks her to look after her mail. The neighbor is an advice columnist and Sweet Pea can't resist answering a few of the letters. Understandably, she gets into a bit of a pickle! Funny and heartwarming.
The Lost Boy's Gift
by Kimberly Willis Holt
After his parent's divorce Daniel and his mom move away to While-a-Way Lane. Upon arrival, Daniel is in a foul mood. He misses his father and feels anger and hurt at his new circumstances. Slowly he begins to take notice of his surroundings and meet his new neighbors, who begin to surprise him with their wisdom and magic.
by Gennifer Choldenko
5th grader Liam and his two sisters are trying to find a way to raise enough money to take their dog, Cupcake, to the vet. Cupcake has been peeing all over the apartment and the landlord is threatening to evict them. He works toward this goal with Dakota, his over the top, science loving sister and his youngest sister, Izzy, who has Down Syndrome. The siblings live with their single mom but I appreciated how they still has a relationship with their divorced dad who came to pick them up for outings. The siblings' antics and schemes are engaging and funny, making this a great read aloud for kids who like family stories.
by Sharon M. Draper
Isabella is trying to figure out who she is and she feels torn between two identities. Her divorced parents, a wealthy black father and a working class white mother, share custody and Isabella spends alternate weeks at her parents' homes. A distressing even at school makes immediate Isabella's search for identity when she knows her sense of self is so much more complicated that the world perceives.
How Tía Lola Came to Stay
by Julia Alvarez
10-year-old Miguel, his sister Juanita and his mom have just moved from NYC to Vermont. His aunt Lola comes to visit from the Dominican Republic. Tía Lola's dynamic and outgoing personality helps Miguel navigate his feelings about the divorce, his new status as the only Latino in his school class as well as adding humor, joy and adventure to his daily life.
More books to love:
- Books about diverse and loving families (middle grade)
- Books about all kinds of families (picture books)
- Beginning chapter books about friends and families (ages 6-9)