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8 Children's Books That Address a Parent's Cancer
Cancer Talk

8 Children's Books That Address a Parent's Cancer

Cancer Talk


Charissa Bates LICSW, SSW

When parents hear that they have cancer, their first thoughts typically go to their children.  How will this affect them?  Will their lives be ok?  Will we be able to be there for them while we fight cancer?  Many times our minds go even deeper into scary spots.  In the moments following a cancer diagnosis, our hearts are turned to supporting our children as well as fighting cancer.  

After I was diagnosed, my children, husband, and I decided to write a children’s book to help children find joy while their parent fights cancer.  We worked really hard to find the good in each day and we wanted to give the gift of hope during a difficult time.  

I have compiled a list of “go to” books to be used while a parent is fighting cancer. These books are not cancer specific.

We Find Joy: Cancer Messed with the Wrong Family

We Find Joy embraces the idea that joy can be found during the hardest of times. Children will feel empowered that they can create happy times during a parent or loved ones fight with cancer. Children will see themselves taking care of a loved one through making cards, playing a fight song, and working on their quiet voices while their fighter rests.

The last couple of pages have a guide "From a kid who's been there" where the author's children came up with ideas to help other children cope with a loved ones diagnosis of cancer. There truly can be joy found during this very difficult time.  

Cancer Hates Kisses

Cancer Hates Kisses is a book all about empowerment.  The mom is portrayed as a superhero.  It shows a mom that has lost her hair, that is sometimes tired, but also sometimes is able to embrace fun moments during her treatment.  

How Do you Care for a Very Sick Bear?

This book embraces how to help a sick loved one.  It gives tools and empowers loved ones to support those ill. A great tool for kids!

Hair for Mama

This book was written from the son of a fighter’s perspective.  It focuses on the emotions that go through a cancer fighter's mind and children’s mind when a mother loses her hair.  Mama feels sad about her hair loss. It touches on symptoms, chemotherapy, and the emotional distress that hair loss can cause a mother.  It continues to emphasizes the importance of not worrying about hair, but the importance of having each other.

The Invisible String

This book is about an invisible string that connects us with our loved ones.  It is a string that we feel with our heart and that helps us feel connected with love.  This is great for children that are having trouble with separation anxiety, a parent that is needing a lot of medical care, and also for those that have lost a loved one.  It can be used at any point in treatment.  It comforts children and offers them reassurance that our loved ones always love us and are connected to us in some way.

Cancer Party: Explain Cancer, Chemo, and Radiation to Kids in a Totally Non-Scary Way

This is a great resource to scientifically explain cancer.  It talks about blood cells, cancer cells, chemotherapy and surgery.  It talks about what surgery is without it being portrayed as scary.  It describes chemotherapy and radiation and how it works in the body.  It is very matter of fact and is a great resource for all ages to easily understand cancer.

My Dad is a Cancer Fighting Hero

I instantly was excited about his book.  It is difficult to find books for dad fighters, but this author has filled in the gap.  The book is a fun read full of rhymes.  It helps children cope with a father’s cancer diagnosis while not making it scary.   Best of all it focuses on love!

Nowhere Hair

This book is a fun and silly book that has a child wondering where her mommy’s hair went.  She looks everywhere for her mom’s hair.  Will she find it?  Where could it be?  It goes on to explain that mom lost her hair due to a medicine, but it isn’t because of anyone.  It goes on to guarantee that mom’s love is still there.  Mom embraces all the different hats available and the daughter has lots of opinions on what the hats should look like.  Educational and a fun read!

Charissa Bates is children's mental health therapist and author who writes books addressing cancer for adults and children. Learn more here.

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