THE AUTHOR is Coordinator of the Good Grief Program of Boston MedicalCenter and Director of The Circle, a bereavement support group for childrenand their families.
Children whose parents are separated or divorced have experienced a majorloss. They often feel abandoned, lonely, and bereft. You can help childrencome to terms with this crisis in their lives by recommending books aboutother children who have gone through the same trauma. Learning that theirexperiences are shared by others can help children accept the changes intheir family situation and find new ways to adapt.
Jan Blackstone-Ford and the Ford children: My Parents Are Divorced,Too: A Book for Kids by Kids. New York, Magination, 1998. Writtenby children who want to share their experiences, this book answers difficultquestions about divorce and remarriage. Ages 912.
Laurene K. Brown and Marc Brown: Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide forChanging Families. Boston, Little, Brown and Co., 1986. Small childrenare bewildered when their parents divorce, and a book populated by the dinosaursthey love can help them deal with the difficult questions they must face.Ages 37.
Beverly Cleary: Strider. New York, Avon, 1996. Leigh Butlerwill be familiar to Cleary fans as the main character in Dear Mr.Henshaw, Cleary's earlier book on this subject. Leigh is 14 now,beginning high school, and still learning to cope with his parents' divorce.He and his best friend Barry find an abandoned dog and name him Strider.As Leigh matures, he finally begins to accept the change in his family.Ages 912.
Paula Danziger: Amber Brown Goes Fourth. New York, Putnam,1995. Amber is just about to start fourth grade. Her best friend, Justin,has moved away, her parents have just divorced, and her mom has a new boyfriend.To find out how Amber copes with the changes in her life, children can readthis and other volumes in the Amber Brown series. Ages 812.
Candy Dawson-Boyd: Chevrolet Saturdays. New York, Simonand Schuster, 1993. Joey, a 10-year-old African-American boy, is still upsetabout his parents' divorce. He has to deal with a new stepfather, a teacherwho doesn't like him, and a class bully. Ages 912.
Vicky Lansky: It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear. Berkeley,CA, Book Peddlers, 1998. When Koko's parents tell him they're getting divorced,the little bear thinks it's all his fault. He is reassured when his parentstell him he's not to blame and that he will always be loved and taken careof. Every page includes a tip for parents. Ages 37.
Fred Rogers: Let's Talk About Divorce. New York, Putnam,1996. Through photographs and easy-to-understand text, Mr. Rogers answersmany of the questions young children have after their parents are divorced.Ages 37.
Cornelia Spelman: Mama and Daddy Bear's Divorce. MortonGrove, IL, Albert Whitman, 1998. In this simple story, young children learnabout the things that change and the things that stay the same when parentsget divorced. Ages 37.
Zoe, Evan, and Ellen Stern: Divorce Is Not the End of the World.Berkeley, CA, Tricycle Press, 1997. Zoe, 15, her brother Evan, 13, and theirmother talk about the issues they have faced after divorce. They answerchildren's letters about divorce and all the changes that go with it. Ages12 and up.
Alys Swan-Jackson: When Your Parents Split Up... How to Keep YourselfTogether. New York, Price Stern Sloan, 1998. Teens with divorcedparents share advice and answer questions about how their lives have changed,why some marriages fail, and how they deal with their own feelings of responsibilityfor the breakup. The book includes strategies for coping, such as joininga support group, keeping a journal, and creating art works that expressfeelings. Ages 913.
Pat Thomas: My Family's Changing. Happauge, NY, Barron'sEducation Series, 1999. Using language young children can understand, theauthor explains what divorce is, why people get divorced, and the differentfeelings children have when their parents don't live together any more.Ages 38.
Jean van Leeuwen: Blue Sky, Butterfly. New York, Dial Booksfor Young Readers, 1996. Eleven-year-old Twig is very angry about her parents'separation, furious with her father for leaving and her mother for withdrawingfrom life. Twig turns to her Grandma Ruthie, who sends seeds for Twig andher mother to plant a garden together as they begin to adjust to their newlife. Ages 912.
Sharon D. Wyeth: Always My Dad. A young African-Americangirl and her brother rarely see their father. During a summer visit to theirgrandparents' house in the country their father comes to visit. The childrenbuild a store of wonderful memories that will stay with them forever after.Ages 58.
Deborah Rivlin. Books for children whose parents are divorced. Contemporary Pediatrics 1999;9:134.