Books to Help Children Cope With a Cancer Diagnosis

August 18, 2021
Books to Help Children Cope With a Cancer Diagnosis

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy by Micheal Guerrera

A cancer diagnosis has a major impact on everyone in the family. For children, though, it is often particularly stressful, confusing, and scary given their limited coping mechanisms and life experiences. Although there are many books for caregivers of cancer patients and patients themselves on the market, finding books appropriate for children can be more difficult.

OneVillage is lucky to have a partnership with Bright Spot Network, an organization dedicated to helping families with cancer. One of the many resources they offer is a list of books that are appropriate for children who have a family member diagnosed with cancer. Each of these books has been kid-tested and parent-approved by the co-founder of Bright Spot Network, Haley Pollack. We hope your family will benefit from these special books as much as we have!

Cancer Hates Kisses

FOR CHILDREN, PRESCHOOL - K

The younger the child, the more difficult it can be to explain what cancer is and means for their family. There is a particularly small pool of books about cancer for preschoolers, which can make it hard to balance helping children understand what is happening to a family member while still being comforting. Cancer Hates Kisses, by Jessica Sliwerski is a wonderful resource for children who have a parent with cancer. The book depicts the children of a mother who is a “cancer-fighting superhero” and touches on common aspects of cancer therapy that children might hear about, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation. It also gently explains to children what cancer means for their mother - including exhaustion, hair loss, and depression while maintaining a positive tone and explaining to preschool-aged children what they can do to help support a parent with cancer.

The Goodbye Cancer Garden

FOR CHILDREN, K - GRADE 2 

Children older than preschool age will be able to handle books that feature more text. The Goodbye Cancer Garden by Janna Matthies is the perfect choice for families looking to explain cancer to kindergarten and early elementary school children. This fantastic book details the full treatment progress of a mother with breast cancer, occurring at the same time her daughter is  growing a garden. The book ends with a healthy garden and a healthy mother, offering a positive and productive take on many of the treatments and procedures mom or dad will go through while in treatment for cancer.

The Invisible String

FOR CHILDREN, K - GRADE 3

While the purpose of some books is to help explain cancer to children, others are designed to help provide comfort. The Invisible String by Patrice Karst is among the most positive books for cancer patients and their children and is firm in explaining that love always endures, through difficult times and beyond. In this book, a mother tells her two children that they’re all connected by an invisible string.  “That’s impossible” the children insist, but they still want to know more.  In this heartwarming book, the author explores questions about the intangible and unbreakable connections of love between family members.  Recommended by parenting blogs, bereavement support groups, hospice centers, and educators, The Invisible String offers a simple approach to overcoming loneliness, separation, or loss with an imaginative twist that children can easily understand and embrace. 

Fritzy Finds a Hat

FOR CHILDREN, GRADES 1 - 2

Once children become older, they are often put into the position of helping out in the role of assistant caregiver for their parents. There are plenty of great books for caregivers of cancer patients, but Fritzy Finds a Hat, by Scott Hamilton, is noteworthy for helping involve children in the caregiving process. The various ways that a child can help a parent with cancer are humorously woven in with the ideas that Fritzy has for special hats to get his mother. Among books for cancer caregivers, this warm story will be perfect for young children.

My Cancer Days

FOR CHILDREN, GRADES 2 - 4

It’s difficult enough for a child to deal with cancer in a family member. Having to suffer through cancer themselves is unthinkable to many children and their parents. Books for cancer patients hope to give comfort, and this can be especially useful for children who may be scared and confused by their diagnosis. One of the best books for childhood cancer patients to read is My Cancer Days by Courtney Filigenz. This book is designed to help children who are suffering from cancer to understand and accept the sadness, fear, and anger they are experiencing, ensuring them that they are not alone and helping them understand that it’s okay to openly express their feelings.

Learn More About Books to Help Children Cope With Cancer

OneVillage is the first online wishlist, planning tool, and specialty product retailer for cancer patients and their supporters. A cancer diagnosis is worrying enough - you should feel confident that there are resources out there to help. Whatever your questions or concerns are, OneVillage is here to support you. We also encourage you to visit our partners at Bright Spot Network and check out their amazing work to help cancer patients and their families.

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