Divorce sucks. It sucks for you, it sucks for the spouse, it sucks for the kids — it sucks for everyone but the laywers. And even though it’s the best thing in the long run, when your family is in it, it’s an emotional, psychological, and logistical nightmare (no matter what Gwyneth Paltrow says). These books help your kid focus a little more on the love that will always be there for them and a little less on the new living arrangements — ironically, by sometimes being all about those living arrangements. Because, as Dr. Seuss might have written, had he take up the topic, “Dad’s new pad isn’t bad, it’s just a little sad.”
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Divorce and Kids
A.S. Chung’s 2015 National Indie Excellence Award winner tells the rhyming story of a little girl who has an awesome time with both her parents — who just happened to not live together. By focusing on the special times she has with each one of her parents (who don’t even appear to be buying her love), kids will hopefully see that their situation has a silver-ish lining.
A Brand New Day: A Banana Split Story by A.S. Chung and Paula Bossio ($15)
Ages: 3 – 6
Spoiler: It was the chocolate pudding. At least that’s what the young narrator and his brother think when their mom abruptly skips town after they make a big mess. Of course it wasn’t really because her terrible kids don’t respect dessert, as the book explains. It clearly lays out that divorce is an adult issue and has nothing to do with kids. Or chocolate for that matter.
Was It The Chocolate Pudding?: A Story For Little Kids About Divorce by Sandra Levins and Bryan Langdo ($10)
In this Horn Book Award winner, a little girl takes comfort in her constant companion Fred, a dog who is loyal to her and a pain in the ass to her parents. During separation kids usually feel powerless as they’re bounced from home to home. With an ultimatum like “Fred stays with me!” they’ll feel like they have some control over their lives — and will state it like a tiny attorney.
Fred Stays With Me by Nancy Coffeit and Tricia Tusa ($7)
Ages: 3 – 6
This lift-the-flap book focuses on the questionable interior decorating schemes of divorced couples — but more importantly why it’s cool to have more than one place to call home. Will this make your kid feel better about making the exchange in a McDonald’s parking lot? No, but it could make them feel better about the new routine.
Living With Mom And Living With Dad by Melanie Walsh ($16)
Ages: 3 – 7
What if there was an unbreakable string made of love that binds all of us? Yes, that was kind of the plot of Avatar, but it’s also Patrice Karst’s book that uses this simple metaphor to let your kids know that no matter how far you are from them, they’ll still be connected to you.
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst and Geoff Stevenson ($17)
Ages: 3 – 7
Marc Brown, author of the Arthur books, and his wife Laurene make the divorce relatable to kids by turning their parents into dinosaurs — giant, barely evolved creatures who are definitely not a metaphor for their folks. Children will learn all about what to do on shared holidays, what stepparents are for, and why mommy drinks (because this book came out during the “me” decade, son).
Dinosaurs Divorce by Marc Brown and Laurene Krasny Brown ($17)
Ages: 3 – 6
Emily is a young girl experiencing complicated emotions after her father leaves. But instead of putting on Cure records or getting an impulsive tattoo, she finds comfort in the cubist work of Pablo Picasso’s “blue period.” The book isn’t a typical “here’s why mommy and daddy don’t love each other,” but more about how to work through adult emotions like grief, anger, and acceptance. Just like Pablo.
Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly and Lisa Brown
Ages: 4 – 7
Alex is a boy with 2 homes (but not in a fun, beach-share kind of way). Each have their differences: Daddy lives in the suburbs and has a rocking chair, and mom lives in the city and has arts and culture. The point is, your kid will learn that while they may have two rooms with two sets of toys, parents only spring for one love.
Two Homes by Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton ($7)Ages: 2 – 5