Divorce. The word is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s readily understood. For young children who know what the word itself means, they may not fully understand what divorce means for themselves. This is where books may be helpful. At Lift Legal, we’ve assembled the following list of age-appropriate books, suitable for preschoolers (ages 3–6).
When looking for books for preschoolers, take care to choose books whose details reflect your child’s own experiences. Very young children won’t be able to apply books’ information to themselves if there are details that don’t fit or are misleading. Keep an eye open for the small details small children notice.
In Two Homes (Candlewick Press; 32 pages; 2003), for example, author Claire Masurel writes, “At Mommy’s house, Alex has a soft chair. At Daddy’s house, Alex has a rocking chair. In each home, Alex also has a special bedroom and lots of friends.” Although the book paints a warm picture and tries to emphasize the positive aspects of parallel parenting, your youngster may find that it has nothing to do with his or her own experience.
My Family’s Changing (Barron’s; 32 pages)
Author Pat Thomas is also a psychotherapist and counsellor who helps children face their fears, worries and questions when their parents’ relationship breaks down. With special “What about you?” sidebars, this unusual picture book is designed with questions directed at the child reading the book. While encouraging young children to explore their own feelings, the text does not minimize the changes, difficulties, and pain that come with divorce.
Dinosaurs Divorce (Little, Brown; 32 pages)
One of the Dino Life Guides, this book by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown is packed with information on everything from divorce words and what they mean, to custody and contact issues, to meeting parents’ new friends. Because the families in the book are dinosaurs, any differences between children reading and the book’s characters are blurred.
When My Parents Forgot How to Be Friends (Barron’s; 32 pages)
Confused and hurt when their parents constantly argue, then decide to separate, children may blame themselves for their parents’ divorce. This sensitively written book by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos assures young children that they are in no way responsible for their parents’ inability to get along. Even very young children have concerns and anxieties, and this book lets them know that, although one parent chooses to move away, both parents continue to love their children.
It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear (Book Peddlers; 32 pages)
Centering on a lovable bear who doesn’t want to have two homes, this book by Vicki Lansky helps children discover what divorce means, learn how family life will change and understand that the divorce is not their fault. Also a parenting guide, it’s intended for families where both parents plan to stay active and involved in their child’s life.
Two of Everything (Red Fox; 32 pages)
Demetrius and Paula Ogglebutt are two perfectly beautiful children, but the longer their parents live together, the more they dislike each other. They do nothing but argue, bicker and clash, and the children are becoming worried that it might be their fault. Pressed to do something, the children have a meeting at school to see if anyone else is in the same situation, and it turns out they’re not alone! The result is a decision on which everyone agrees: an “un-wedding”.
Keep reading fun
Everyone enjoys levity and humour, and children are no exception. They appreciate stories—good stories—that are fun to read.
Look for books that aren’t necessarily about divorce. Your children may find books about children whose parents aren’t together, or books about children in stressful situations, equally useful. The more children find books and stories relatable, the less isolated, sad and fearful they will feel.
Remember, too, that not every book your child reads has to be tied to a real-life situation. Reading—and being read to—is meant for fun, learning, exploration and stretching the imagination. Let your child escape from time to time.
Do you have a book recommendation you’d like to see included on a future book list? Drop us a line with a short description or review.