My fortune overflows, and these days make me grateful for the health and happiness

Picture books to help children talk about cancer

I’ve been fortunate enough to experience. So many friends have been healthy, so many babies born, so many around me have moved into good jobs and experienced fiscal and emotional prosperity. This was brought home in 2017-2018 by a series of friends we lost and those we’ve supported the best they can as they undergo medical treatment.

Never has living in the now and appreciating what I have meant more to me than when I began gathering resources to support a pre-k whose mother is undergoing cancer treatment. I realized right away that these books may be as helpful to the fourth grader whose mother is resting between chemo treatments this month.

Remember to be honest when talking to children about cancer, but to meet them at their intellectual and emotional level. Tell them that it’s a form of cancer, but ensure that they know that many people survive cancer. Many people will be very sick and then have a recovery with check ups later. Give older children more information about treatments, and younger children the words they need to identify and help express their emotions. A kindergartner will feel frustration, anger and sadness, but will not be able to identify what’s making them act the way they are acting. Guiding their emotional outlets to something productive or artistic. Give them body-movement opportunities to let out frustration in a useful way.

“Statistics at a Glance: The Burden of Cancer in the United States. In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease.” -National Cancer Institute at

I'm looking for Diverse Representation.

If you have a picture book that will help children address, cope, or live fully while working through a life with cancer, please contact me and share your resource. We can help so many if we come together.

Simms/Mann UCLA

Focusing on communication and developmental stages in the children’s experience of parental cancer, this site offers resources for children’s cancer as well. Taking some time to explore the offerings.

Cancer Care Support

Suggestions and resources for people helping children from A big, well organized site with resources to help children cancer patients and those with parents in treatment.

American Cancer Society

many guides for helping children with the different ways cancer enters a child’s life. Stages, understanding treatment plans and feelings that come from surviving.

Talking about Cancer

This is a longer article, but it’s worth the read. Including tips for talking about and approaching talking about cancer and its treatment with a mind to the developmental age of the child.

For now, I would like to highlight Cancer Hates Kisses, about a child whose parent is going through treatment. Jessical Reid Silwerski invites children to keep loving their cancer-riddled parent, because that love will make them stronger. The different stages and tiredness are addressed, and advice to let the parent sleep because that’s when the body heals, and to hug.┬áThat bond makes us strong.

Goodbye Cancer Garden by Jenna Matthies is a celebration of getting better. The worst is still happening, but tomorrow we can have a garden and work together. This book is fantastic in that it remembers that we can look forward, but does not deal with the mean time.

Finally, Good Luck Mrs. K! is the story of a teacher helping her students embrace a young cancer patient in her class, the whole while hiding her own cancer treatment. Not as uplifting, but it gives a good reminder that we are all facing an unspoken battle and that children need special care as they are still developing their feeligns of self and strength.