Separation and divorce are difficult for everybody. Often parents can get stumped on how to explain such a big idea to their children, especially if they’re very young. Bibliotherapy or the use of books (or other forms of literature) for healing in mental health is one of my go-to approaches when explaining complex emotions to my younger clients. Using children’s books about divorce can be a great tool to help them understand the transition in their family and open the door for you to start a conversation with them. It gives reassurance that what they are going through is completely normal and explains the process in age-appropriate language. These books are my top choices for explaining divorce to children. Full disclosure: post contains affiliate links.
Addison’s parents go through a divorce and end up living in two homes. It helps children understand that even though they may live in separate homes or have two sets of their belongings, it’s not because of them. The book sends a message that even if two parents don’t always get along, they both love their child unconditionally.
Jake arrives at Planet Dad to find out that his dad has a new partner, a space alien! I like this book because the alien’s gender/race/ethnicity is not specified so dad’s new partner could be anyone that fits your situation. It also helps that dad’s new partner is a space alien or an invader, which is what most children feel when a new person joining the family.
This is an older book, but I still use it in my practice. It helps normalize the divorce process. It also has more information about why parents divorce and what it might be like for the child from now on (living in two homes, holidays, stepparents/stepsiblings).
Two homes is a positive book that reframes divorce as a good thing. It helps children see the positive side of things (two sets of things, two friends in different neighborhoods, two places to feel loved. Even though they will be living in two homes, each home is has everything the child needs to be cared for and loved.
Now, most of these books focus on all the positive things that can come from a divorce, but none have validated how the child could be feeling. When the child is still upset, we can’t expect them to feel happy or good about having two homes or two toothbrushes. This book does a great job of being honest in reflecting on how the child could be feeling at this particular moment.
This book is good for very young children as it keeps the story very simple. The girl in the story explains that her parents do not live together anymore. It’s in a flap book format so the child can lift to see the differences between living with mom and dad.