Children’s Books for Life’s Big Issues

When big issues come up for little ones, one of the best things you can do is to snuggle up with them and read a book. Depending on the content, books can inspire you to talk about some of the issues going on in your lives. With the help of a school guidance counselor, we put together a list of books on a variety of topics that might help you and your kiddos talk about some big issues.

Children's Books for Life's Big Issues

A Loved One In Prison: 

What Do I Say About That? by Julia Cook

For: Ages 7-11

Written by a former elementary school guidance counselor, this story helps children understand some of the emotions they may be feeling if a loved one is in prison. Cook helps children understand some of the reasons adults make poor choices and some of changes that may come as a result. This book also has a guide for parents for additional ways to spark conversation. 

Anger Issues: 

Soda Pop Head by Julia Cook

For: Ages 5-10

Soda Pop Head is about Lester, a child who has trouble controlling his anger. This book gives suggestions about ways to cool down and manage stress at school or at home.  

Body Safety: 

I Said NO! by Kimberly King

For: Ages 4-up

Written by a mom after her son had an uncomfortable experience at a sleepover, “I said NO!” helps children navigate a variety of situations. This book gives children practice dialogue and parents a chance to talk about what behaviors are appropriate with others.     


The Berenstain Bears and the Bully by Stan Berenstain

For: Ages 4-8

Many Berenstain Bears stories give lessons about life, but The Berenstain Bears and the Bully is great to spark conversation about a bullying situation. The story follows Sister Bear as she trouble with a bully at school.

Death of a Loved One: 

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide To Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown

For: Ages 4-8

Brown helps children understand what death is and how it can occur by answering some common questions that come up with the death of a loved one or pet. This book also includes an easy to follow glossary of terms associated with death and resources for parents. 


Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families by Marc Brown

For: Ages 4-9

This story explains what divorce means and what changes may occur after parents separate. Dinosaurs Divorce covers topics such as having two homes, holidays, and stepfamilies. 

The D Word by Julia Cook

For: Ages 4-8

The D Word follows a child, named Otis, whose parents have recently divorced. The story follows his emotions through the process of divorce and gives suggestions of ways for kids to cope.   

Learning Difficulties: 

Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

For: Ages 5-9

This fictional story focuses on a student who has difficulty learning to read. Polacco’s story encourages and inspires young students while giving parents an opportunity to start a conversation about learning challenges with their children. 


Good Answers to Tough Questions: Moving by Joy Berry

For: Ages 6-12

This story explores the changes that come with moving and offers children positive advice on how to handle making new friends and adjusting to a new school. Berry also includes good resources for parents.

New Baby:

We Have a Baby by Cathryn Falwell

For: Ages 2-6

We Have a Baby helps children understand the responsibilities that come with having a new baby in the home. This book leaves a lot of room for parents to ask follow up questions about how older siblings can help with the baby.

Pregnancy/Infant Loss: 

Something Happened by Cathy Blanford

For: Ages 5-up

This story can aid parents start conversations about pregnancy loss while giving an appropriate amount of information.  Something Happened has many suggestions on what parents can say along with a story children can understand.

Separation Anxiety: 

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

For: Ages 3-8

The Kissing Hand has been a classic among parents and children for years. The story follows Chester Raccoon as he nervously prepares to leave his mom for the first day of school. Chester’s mom comes up with an idea to help him feel connected to her even while they aren’t together. This great read might inspire a new tradition in your family.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

For: Ages 4-8

This fictional story explains connections loved ones can have even when they are not physically together. Readers noted that this story can be applied to a variety of situations such as divorce, death, foster care, or separation anxiety.

Traumatic Events and Stress: 

Once I Was Very, Very Scared by Chandra Ghosh Ippen

For: Ages 6 and up

This book uses animals to help explain the different ways children can respond to traumatic events and stress. Parents can help start conversations with their children about understanding how they are feel and ways to cope. This book can be applied to a variety of situations such as past violence or abuse.

Have you read any of these books with your children?  
Do you have a favorite book we should include on this list?  

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