I’d like to think that because I’m 28 years ahead of my oldest daughter, I have mature answers to all her questions, intelligent explanations to her curiosities and calming responses to her intense emotions. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case!
I’d like to think I can craft the age appropriate words to handle tough topics. Again, definitely not the case! I’d like to think that my wordy explanations would sink in and she would immediately understand. Not true.
Fortunately, children’s book authors are here to help mamas out. Expert authors and illustrators craft amazing books, and I often rely on their words to address life’s toughest topics with my daughters.
Below is a small list of picture books that handle tough topics for preschool-age children.
Self-Esteem/ Confidence/ Bullying
- I Like Me! by Nancy Carlson – the little pig in the story always treats herself with respect. Great for children in need of positive reinforcement.
- Harry and Willy and Carrothead by Judith Casey – Harry was born without a left hand but still excels in many activities. The three boys in the book overcome stereotypes about appearances and become friends.
- Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney – Llama Llama shows children how to involve adults in the case of a bully and shows children the importance of a second chance.
- Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon By Patty Lovell – Molly transfers all of her faults into wonderful talents.
- Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy – Lucy reminds children to always do the right thing and be proud of themselves, even around tough friends.
- Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families by Laurene Brown – the dinosaur characters show children the causes and effects of divorce i.e. living with a single parent, step families, spending holidays at two houses, etc.
- Two Homes by Claire Masurel – recommended ages 2 to 5, focuses on the positives of divorce from a child’s perspective.
- Was It the Chocolate Pudding? by Sandra Levins – recommended ages 4 to 8, children realize their parents’ divorce was not their fault.
- Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schweibert – good for all ages
- I Miss You: A First Look at Death By Pat Thomas – helps children understand that death and grief are natural parts of life.
- Water Bugs and Dragonflies By Doris Stickney – explains death from a Christian perspective, compares death with a water bug turning into a dragonfly.
- The Invisible String by Patrice Karst – teaches children that although two people are separated by distance, death, or anger, love is an invisible string that connects hearts.
Death of a Pet
- Dog Heaven By Cynthia Rylant – children get a glimpse of the perfect world that is waiting for dogs in a special “dog” heaven.
- Harry and Hopper, by Margaret Wilde – even after Harry’s dog, Hopper, dies, he still sees Hopper in his imagination.
- We’ll Paint the Octopus Red By Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen – story for a child learning their sibling has Down Syndrome.
- Taking Down Syndrome to School by Jenna Glatzer – educates peers at school about Down Syndrome.
- My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy by Shaila and Aanyah Abdullah – the mother and daughter author team tell a story of a little girl living with cerebral palsy.
Body Awareness/ Safety
- The Right Touch: A Read Aloud Story to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse by Sandy Kleven – the story helps explain the difference between positive and secret or bad touches.
- Amazing You: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts by Gail Saltz – provides information about reproduction, birth, and the difference between boys and girls without talking about sexual intercourse.
- I Said NO! by Zack and Kimberly King – recommended ages 5 and up, a kids guide to keeping private parts private, from a child’s perspective.
- What’s Happening to Grandpa? by Maria Shriver – a story of a grandfather who has Alzheimer’s.
- Now One Foot, Now The Other by Tomie dePaola – the little boy in the story now has to help his grandpa with the same tasks that grandpa once helped the little boy with.
- Nowhere Hair by Sue Glader – explains cancer and the effects of chemotherapy.
- Mom Has Cancer! by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos – this book discusses the scared feelings of mom and the children. It explains that mom will need special medical attention.
The titles listed above are just a few of the masterpieces created by authors and illustrators. I’m thankful that someone else crafted the words to address body image, death and divorce to small children. These topics are tough, but kids are curious and want answers too. The literary world is full of resources for every tough topic.
About the author: Never realizing she’d fall in love with a Kansas boy and return to her birth city, Katie grew up in Copley, Ohio. She and her husband, Jeff, met at Miami University, enjoyed Cincinnati, Ohio for a few years, and moved to Kansas City after getting married in 2007. They now reside in Overland Park.
Katie spends her free time exploring Kansas City with her husband and daughters, Emily (almost 4) and Olivia (18 months). Zoey, her very excitable Boxer often joins the adventures. Katie received her bacherlor’s degree at Miami University of Ohio and taught elementary school in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since moving to Kansas City, she found a passion for the medical industry and works full time for a pharmaceutical company. Katie thanks her mother and grandmother for instilling in her a love of reading and writing!