The Doctor's Book Reviews

Fulfilled by Amazon

For Loss | Terminal Illness | Parent Illness | Pet Loss | Divorce | Moving Away | Military Deployment | Foster Care

Books For Loss

The Handy Answer Book for Kids (And Adults)
By Judy Galens and Nancy Pear | All Ages

I highly recommend this general resource for any and all subjects children have questions about, including death and dying. This reference book identifies and responds to common questions with frank, age-appropriate, secular answers, including:

-Why do people have to grow old?
-Why do people have to die?
-Will I die someday?
-What happens when people die?
-Does it hurt to die?
-Can people who die see and talk with living people after they are gone?
-What do we do after a person dies?
-Why do people cry when someone dies?
-Where do  people go after they die?
-What is heaven?
-What is hell?
-Are angels real?
-Who is God?
After A Death: An Activity Book for Children
By The Dougy Center | Ages 5-13

Another must-have for children experiencing grief, this is a thorough, beautiful, and carefully constructed activity book based on decades of research and expertise by those who run the National Center for Grieving Children & Families. It incorporates advice and thoughts from children who have endured the death of a loved one.
Cry, Heart, But Never Break
By Glenn Ringtved | All Ages

A hauntingly beautiful Danish story about Death coming for four children’s beloved grandmother. In this story, Death is personified as a wise and gentle but insistent cloaked figure that may be frightening to some children, so parental discretion is advised. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book.
I Miss You: A First Look at Death
By Pat Thomas | Ages 3-7

This book speaks frankly and plainly about death and provides educational responses to children’s common questions. This book is most appropriate for children who are struggling with grief rather than those children who are less in touch with their sadness.
Saying Goodbye: Memory Book
By Erainna Winnet | Ages 5 & Up

This child self-help workbook is particularly geared toward educators and other professionals to use with children. Each page offers a therapeutic activity to process grief and the accompanying emotions. 
The Invisible String
By Patrice Karst | Ages 3-7

This children’s story is “specifically written to calm a child’s fear of being apart from the ones they love,” and explains that even in death, our hearts maintain connection to the hearts of all we love.
The Grief Bubble
By Kerry DeBay | Ages 6 & Up

This simple book is meant to help children and teens better understand their grief and its impact on the mind and the body. It incorporates journaling and activities to process complex feelings.
Why Did You Die?
By Erika Leeuwenburgh & Ellen Goldring | All Ages

This book is appropriate for caregivers, therapists and teachers who want to dive a little deeper into understanding grief through a developmental lens. A bit didactic, this activity book is designed for an adult to use with a child experiencing loss.

For Parent Illness

Nowhere Hair
By Sue Glader | Ages 2-10

A fabulous, balanced, adorable and lighter-hearted rhyming exploration of what happened to mommy's hair. This is a gentle and simple book that is sure to please children and adults of all ages.
Kids' Words: When a Parent Has Cancer
By Madelyn Case, Jeanne Curry & Lorraine Hart | All Ages

A family's guide to a parent's cancer, this book is filled with words of wisdom and experience from family members of all ages. This book is a great guide, exploring different aspects in each chapter such as "Going Through Treatment" and "What I Would Do Differently."
Because Someone I Love Has Cancer
By The American Cancer Society | Ages 6-12

This is an extensive activity book that is "Kid Tested & Approved." It is an expertly curated collection of journal prompts and activities designed to help kids work through complex emotions and "find and create bright moments." This book comes with a set of 5 very large crayons which makes it an incredible value for its price.

For Terminal Illness

Help Me Say Goodbye
By Janis Silverman | All Ages

This workbook for families and young children has the unique benefit of walking children through terminal illness before the loved one has died.

For Pet Loss

Dog Heaven
By Cynthia Rylant | All Ages

A beautifully illustrated and beautifully told tale about what happens to dogs once they reach heaven. Children and people of all ages will find comfort and reassurance in this book.
Big Cat Pepper
By Elizabeth Partridge | Ages 3-10

A touching, lyrical story of a young boy whose fears are realized when his beloved aging cat dies. With the tender help of his mother, the boy buries and mourns his cat, but over time, finds solace knowing his cat lives on in his heart.
Kate, The Ghost Dog
By Wayne L. Wilson | Ages 8-13

A great choice for an older child who has experienced the death of a beloved pet, this chapter book explores disbelief, anger, and sadness through the eyes of a middle-school girl.
Saying Goodbye to Lulu
By Corinne Demas | Ages 3-10

A touching story about the relationship between a growing girl who wishes she could turn back the clock for her aging dog. This book speaks frankly from the child’s perspective about death and the ensuing sadness, but may leave kids feeling rushed as it ends by welcoming a new dog.
Good-bye, Sheepie
By Robert Burleigh | Ages 3-10

A father and son look back on happy memories with their beloved dog as they create a sweet gravesite for him. They bury him and reflect on the sadness they feel in saying farewell.
Big Cat, Little Cat
By Elisha Cooper | All Ages

A gentle story that indirectly confronts the death of a cat by way of the relationship between two pets.
Goldfish Ghost
By Lemony Snicket | Ages 3-8

A tale of the ghost of a goldfish who seeks out his place in a world of living things, ultimately finding a great place to spend eternity. Simple and lighthearted, this is a nice book for the loss of a fish or any non-cuddly pet.

For Divorce

The Handy Answer Book for Kids (And Adults)
By Judy Galens and Nancy Pear | All Ages

A general resource for any and all subjects children have questions about, including divorce.  This book responds with a paragraph each to “Why do husbands and wives divorce?,” “Who decides which of the divorced parents their children will live with?,”  “What is a single parent?,”  and “What is a stepmother or stepfather?”
Divorce Is Not the End of the World
By Zoe and Evan Stern (and their mom, Ellen Sue Stern) | Ages 8 & up

Written by children aged 13 and 15, this “Coping Guide” offers tips and responses to queries from other children of divorce. Revised and updated 10 years later by the sibling authors, the relatable perspective and tips make this book a great choice for preteens and teenagers experiencing divorce.
Two Homes
By Claire Masurel | Ages 3-7

Simple and sweet introduction to what it means to live in two places- and to find love in both.
The Switching Hour
By Evon O. Flesberg | For Parents

An exploration of the experience of divorce from the child’s point of view, this book can provide empathetic insight for adults. Written by a pastoral therapist, this book has a dose of spirituality which is contained primarily within one chapter (“The Hour I Spend With God”). This book can be helpful even for the non-religious as it does not permeate the entire book.
The Invisible String
By Patrice Karst | Ages 3-7

This children’s story is “specifically written to calm a child’s fear of being apart from the ones they love,” and explains that even if they are out of sight, our hearts maintain connection to the hearts of all we love.

For Moving Away

Big Ernie’s New Home
By Teresa and Whitney Martin | Ages 2-8

A fun tale about a brave cat and his boy owner who move together to new climes in a faraway state. The cat is unsure, and his boy-host gets to take the lead helping his pet adjust to their new home. 
Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day
By Stan & Jan Berenstain | Ages 3-6

A classic, this simple book explores Brother Bear’s family’s decision to move from the only home he’s ever known to a tree house in the valley. 
Goodbye House: A Kid’s Guide to Moving
By Ann Banks and Nancy Evans | Ages 4 (with adult help) - 8

A nice (but a little outdated) workbook for children who are moving chock full of activities designed to consolidate memories and welcome new adventures. The parents guide at the back of this kids’ workbook has many helpful tips in making the transition as smooth as possible for children.

For Military Deployment

Kenzie’s Courage
By Martha Damek & Theresa Sonnleitner | Ages 3-10

Told through the eyes of a young girl, this book gives helpful strategies and tips children can employ to help them cope with the worry, fear, and bravery that accompany a parent’s deployment.
I Miss You!
By Beth Andrews | Ages 3-10

Written by a social worker, this book is designed to explore and cope with the complex emotions that arise for children whose parents have been deployed.
Countdown ‘Til Daddy Comes Home
By Kristin Ayyar | Ages 3-6

A young boy copes with sadness and anticipation as he says goodbye to his father and awaits his return from duty. This story incorporates coping strategies and ends with discussion questions and tips to help children manage the absence.
My Dad’s Deployment Activity Book
By Julie LaBelle | Ages 3-6

Chock full of activities, games and advice, this workbook is appropriate for very young children experiencing deployment and reunion with a service parent.
Why My Dad?
By Lisa R. Bottorff | Ages 6-12

This book explores a pre-teen boy’s feelings of frustration and anger about his father’s military job. With the help of a friend, the boy comes to appreciate the good and important work his father is conducting overseas.

For Foster Care

Maybe Days
By Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright | Ages 4-10

A great book that captures the varied feelings and experiences of children entering foster care in a straightforward yet gentle exploration. This book is spot-on for all children regardless of the factors necessitating foster care, and is an appropriate for any sender from teacher to foster parent to social worker.
Kids Need to Be Safe
By Julie Nelson | Ages 4-10

Reiterating the point over and over: "Kids are important. Kids need to be safe," this book's simple and sweet repetition flows almost like a song. This book is great for kids in foster care for any reason, and is a fabulous resource for any adult involved with a foster child with it's brief guide at the end.
Families Change
By Julie Nelson | Ages 4-10

Another book that is part of the "Kids are Important" series, this book is especially for children experiencing termination of parental rights. With its gorgeous illustrations and simple language, this book strikes just the right tone with its distinctions between all kinds of different families (birth families, foster families, adoptive families) and includes a resource section for adults.
Love You From Right Here
By Jamie Sandefer | Ages 3-6

A simple book for very young children in foster care, this book is most appropriate from the foster parent to the foster child. Featuring a little girl and her foster mother, this illustrates a nurturing and tender relationship.