Children's Books That Make Cancer a Little Less Scary for Kids
Updated: Jan 14
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Cancer is a tough subject to talk about with children. Books like the ones listed here can help explain the illness, the treatment, and offer ideas for coping with the disease. Sharing age-appropriate facts can help reduce anxiety and fear in children.
Hair For Mama by Kelly A. Tinkham
Illustrated by Amy June Bates
It's family picture time for the Carters, but Mama does not want to be in the photo this year. All of her beautiful hair is gone because of chemotherapy treatments for her cancer, and she doesn't want to be remembered without hair.
Eight-year-old Marcus knows that the picture won't be the same without Mama, so he comes up with a plan to find her some hair and make her better. Even though the plan doesn't work in quite the way Marcus expects, he comes to understand that "hair is nice to have, but not as nice as me having Mama and Mama having me."
This is a story for every family dealing with a serious illness. It is told with a touch of gentle humor in a style that children will readily understand, and the warm and inviting illustrations will bring comfort and hope to young and old alike. Learn more here.
The Great Katie Kate by M. Maitland Deland
Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
The great Katie Kate takes on the Worry Wombat as she teaches a young girl about treating cancer.
When Dr. Demarco explains to Suzy that she might have cancer, the young girl begins to worry. Just then, the Great Katie Kate zooms in to ease Suzy's mind and help her stare down the Worry Wombat.
She takes Suzy on a magical tour through the hospital and explains what cancer isall about and, more important, how it is treated. As Suzy learns more about her condition, she learns to ask questions and even to smile, which makes the Worry Wombat disappear.
This superhero saga provides an entertaining and indispensable tool for parents and medical professionals who are seeking a positive way to set young cancer patients on the road to recovery by helping them deal with their fears. With Katie Kate coming to the rescue, children with cancer have a friend they can trust. Learn more here.
The Goodbye Cancer Garden by Janna Matthies
Illustrated by Kristi Valiant
After Mom and Dad tell Janie and Jeffrey that Mom has Cancer, the whole family goes to the doctor to ask questions.
"Is Mom better yet?" Jeffrey asked. "Not yet," she said. "But we're working very hard to make her better-probably by pumpkin time." That gave Janie an idea...the family plants a vegetable garden.
As the garden grows, Mom's treatment progresses...surgery, chemo, head-shaving and other side effects, radiation...and when it's all done, there are healthy pumpkins and a healthy Mom! Learn more here.
Cancer Hates Kisses by Jessica Reid Sliwerksi
Illustrated by Mika Song
Mothers are superheroes when they're battling cancer, and this empowering picture book gives them an honest yet spirited way to share the difficult experience with their kids.
Author Jessica Reid Sliwerski was diagnosed with breast cancer four months after giving birth to her daughter. And through all the stages of treatment--surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, losing her hair--she thought about how hard it would be to talk to your child about cancer while coping with it. She wrote this picture book to give other parents and their children an encouraging tool for having those conversations--a lovingly upbeat book that is also refreshingly authentic and straightforward. With its simple text and heartwarming illustrations, Cancer Hates Kisses is relatable to any type of cancer. Learn more here.
Making Happy by Sheetal Sheth
Illustrated by Khoa Le
When Leila's mother gets sick, lots of things change for her family.
But one important thing stays the same: they still have each other, and they know how to find joy and laughter when they need it most!
The poetic, uplifting story and hopeful ending are based on the author's own experience battling cancer as the parent of young children. Learn more here.
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