With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, the end of their parents’ relationship is a reality very familiar for many children. Whether the process of divorce is straightforward or complicated, it’s a difficult time in a child’s life, bringing up complex feelings and often requiring a change in their day-to-day routines as a result of custody arrangements and the family finding a new normal. Fortunately, there are many good divorce books for kids that make excellent resources for younger children processing the realities of divorce and coming to terms with the changes in their circumstances.
My Family’s Changing: A First Look at Family Break Up by Pat Thomas
This picture book aimed at young children is ideal for parents and kids to read together, and a great starting point for discussions about what divorce can mean for a family and ways to adapt to a new way of living. Portraying the realities of divorce frankly and simply, it’s a useful guide and will help reassure children that their experiences are shared by many others.
Mum and Dad Glue by Kes Gray and Lee Wildish
Many children feel that it’s up to them to “fix” their parents’ relationship when they separate or divorce. Mum and Dad Glue addresses this often-seen impulse in children, emphasising for the child reader that the divorce is not their fault, that they cannot mend their parents’ relationship, and that it isn’t their responsibility to do so – but that they and their parents will be fine as life moves forwards.
Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
With cute dinosaur characters that child readers will find fun and engaging, this book is a fantastic roadmap for the early days of divorce. It teaches a child how to talk to friends about their parents’ divorce, the practicalities of living in two different homes, and how to adapt to a blended family.
Two Homes by Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton
This sweet and simple story follows Alex, whose parents are recently divorced, and underlines the fact that while the two homes are very different, Alex is loved in both of them. Written by the author in response to concerns from a child she knew, this book is a sensitive and thoughtful introduction to the topic of parents living apart.
Red Leaves by Sita Brahmachari
A chapter book focusing on three different characters dealing with various kinds of loss and upheaval, Red Leaves looks at divorce alongside other issues and explores the common ground between the three main characters. Zak, whose parents have recently divorced, moves into a new street and meets Aisha, who is in foster care, and Red, who is experiencing homelessness.
Living with Mum and Living with Dad: My Two Homes by Melanie Walsh
Another book exploring parents living apart, this book looks at divorce simply and effectively, and is a fantastic starting point for conversations with very young children. The illustrations are cute and vibrant, and the lift-the-flap format makes for an interactive read.
Booked by Kwame Alexander
Poetry-loving kids will instantly engage with this novel in verse about Nick, a young football player who is dealing with his parents’ separation alongside school bullies and an injury that threatens to stop him playing the sport he loves. Ideal for older children and young teens, Booked is a frank and honest look at a difficult time in the protagonist’s life that will be familiar to many readers.
Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick
A book for independent readers, Two Naomis deals with another common reality for children whose parents have divorced – blended families, and dealing with potential new stepsiblings. Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith dislike each other, but their parents have started dating, and so they are forced to spend time together – and eventually adapt to being in each others’ lives.
When Parents Separate by Dawn Hewitt and Ximena Jeria
Part of the Questions and Feelings About series, this picture book was produced in collaboration with mental health and emotional wellbeing charity CHUMS to provide a starting point for parents and children to explore the child’s feelings around divorce. Focusing primarily on processing new and uncomfortable emotions, When Parents Separate is an excellent resource for dealing with the psychological challenges of divorce.
Divorce Is Not the End of the World by Zoe and Evan Stern With Ellen Sue Stern
Written by teen siblings following their own parents’ divorce, this guide for middle grade kids is a great resource for dealing with the practicalities of separated parents (such as living in two houses and dealing with birthdays or other gatherings), as well as negotiating the emotions that will come up in response to a divorce. Children will particularly relate to something written by authors who share their perspective, and Divorce is Not the End of the World will help reassure children dealing with this new situation.
My Body Sends a Signal: Helping Kids Recognize Emotions and Express Feelings by Natalia Maguire and Anastasia Zababashkina
While not specifically about divorce, My Body Sends a Signal is a fantastic accompanying read for any of the other books on this list. Children (and adults!) may not always be aware of or fully in touch with all the nuances of their emotions, and so learning the signals your body sends when you’re unhappy, afraid or panicking can be a very useful thing for children to engage with when they’re dealing with the emotional side of a recent divorce.
While divorce is tough, there are many divorce books for kids exploring it either directly or obliquely that will help reassure younger and older children that they’re not alone, and that while their situation may be upsetting, they will adapt and thrive as they move forwards.
If you are or you know an older child or teen dealing with divorce, have a look at Book Riot’s list of YA Books About Divorce. For books that explore all kinds of family relationships, check out our guide to 20 Must-Read Children’s Books About Family.