Materials to Use With Kids

Most of the following materials are available to purchase online at and Barnes &, or elsewhere as noted. Out of print books are available through

Family Diversity
Gay/Lesbian Parented Families
Divorce and Stepfamilies
Dad Was Never Known To Child

I. Family Diversity

All Ages

Jenness, Aylette. Families: A Celebration of Diversity, Commitment & Love (Houghton Mifflin, 1990)

Photographs and interviews with kids and parents in all sorts of families, including gay/lesbian, divorced, commune, adoptive, foster...


Lash, Michele, Loughridge, Sally & Fassler, David. My Kind of Family: A Book for Kids in Single-Parent Homes (Waterfront Books, 1990)

Can be used with kids in any kind of single-parent homes, including divorced, single parent by choice, deceased parent...Drawings and comments by kids in child handwriting make it an excellent discussion-starter.

Fassler, David, Lash, Michele, Ives, Sally. Changing Families: A Guide for Kids and Grownups (Waterfront Books, 1988)

Same format as My Kind of Family, focusing on separation, divorce & remarriage. The parts on dating and remarriage can be used with kids in any single-parent situation.

II. Gay/Lesbian Parented Families

All Ages

Kaeser, G & Gillespie, P. Love Makes a Family (U. of Mass. Press, 1999)

Splendid photographs and text written by many gay/lesbian families (photos can be used alone with younger children). The basis of the famous traveling photo exhibition.

Young Elementary

Willhoite, Michael. Daddy's Roommate (Alyson Wonderland, 1990)

Picture book describing ordinary daily life for a school-age boy with his divorced dad and his dad's partner: going to a ball game, being reassured by both after having a bad dream, etc.

Newman, Leslea. Saturday is Pattyday (New Victoria Pub., 1993)

Following the split of his moms, a child gets used to the new routine of life in two homes.

Older Elementary & Middle School

Heron, Ann & Maran, Meredith. How Would You Feel If Your Dad Was Gay? Alyson Wonderland, 1991)

Awful title, good book. Elementary-age Jasmine lets the cat out of the bag that her dad is gay, to the chagrin of her middle-school age brother Michael. During the ensuing playground name calling, Noah, Michael's classmate, wonders if he can tell Michael that his own mom is a lesbian. Ultimately there is a school assembly in which family constellations are discussed and the law laid down about disrespectful language in school.

III. Death

All Ages

Krementz, Jill. How It Feels When a Parent Dies (Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 2004)

Children ages 7-16 reflect on their experience and feelings. With photographs.


Clifton, L. Everett Anderson's Goodbye (Owlet paperback, 1988)

Simply told, short, emotionally honest story featuring an African-American little boy whose father has died, and how he survives.

Higginbotham, A. Death is Stupid (2016)

Adults often say things that strike children as stupid, such as "He's in a better place." Very helpful in accepting children's true feelings, whatever they may be, with beautiful artwork.

Vigna, Judith. Saying Goodbye to Daddy (Albert Whitman & Co., 1991)

The story of Clare's loss of her dad, from hearing the news of his car accident, through the family's reaction, the funeral, and beginning to feel a little better. Powerful and child-appropriate.

Winsch, J.After the Funeral (Paulist, 1995)

Things kids themselves feel and do after a death that they may feel are stupid to talk about, like being afraid of the dead person's room or wanting to wear their clothing.

Middle School and Up

Dealing With Death (available for purchase through

PBS series for teens. Deals with the taboo on talking about death, includes a boy talking about suicide of his dad...

IV. Divorce and Stepfamilies


Boyd, Lizi. Sam Is My Half Brother (Viking, 1990)

Now that Hessie's dad and stepmother have a new baby, Hessie fears Sam will get all the attention and love. Her dad reminisces about her babyhood, and Hessie, reassured, looks forward to playing with Sam.

Brown, L.K. & Brown, M. Dinosaurs Divorce (Little, Brown, 1986)

Using a cartoon-frame format & a dinosaur family, goes through issues from why parents divorce, to telling your friends, to dealing with stepparents.

Coffelt, N. & Tusa, T. Fred Stays with Me (through Amazon; 2011)

Follows a young girl who turns to the one constant in her life, her dog Fred, in the face of her parents' divorce. Could spark discussions of what kids take with them back and forth.

Davis, D. Something Is Wrong At My House (Parenting Press, Seattle, 1984)

Picture book that addresses domestic violence, acknowledging the ways kids' behavior can be affected & suggesting ways to deal with pain without lashing out. On facing pages are single-line text for young children and fuller text for older children.

Ferreiro, Donna. Goodnight, Daddy (Morning Glory Press, 2001)

Phoebe can hardly sleep-- last night her Dad promised he would be there to visit in the morning. Morning comes and goes with no visit. How Phoebe weathers this disappointment intact.

Higginbotham, A. Divorce is the Worst (2015)

Straightforward, unblinking nonfiction view of divorce from a child's perspective, with beautiful collage illustrations. Excellent for sparking discussions.

Karst, P. The Invisible String (Little, Brown, 2018)

No matter where you are physically, you are connected to the people who love you by an invisible string.

Kath, K. Weekends with Max and His Dad (Houghton Mifflin, 2016)

Max has a wonderful time playing spies and having adventures at his dad's new apartment. And yet...By the third weekend visit, it also feels like Max's home. Chapter book.

Levins, Sandra. Was It the Chocolate Pudding? A Story for Little Kids About Divorce (Magination Press, 2006)

A little boy knows why his mom moved out-- he accidentally splashed chocolate pudding all over his little brother. He is thrilled to find out this wasn't the reason. Funny bits showing a kid's take on grownup language, like "adjusting to a new arrangement"!

Ransom, J. I Don't Want to Talk About It (Magination Press/APA, 2000)
Available for purchase at

A girl's first reactions to hearing about divorce: she's having strong feelings but doesn't want to talk. Ultimately, she does.

Seuling, Barbara. What Kind of Family Is This? A Book About Stepfamilies (Golden Books, 1985)

Not only does Jeff have to deal with moving into his stepfather's house- he now has two stepbrothers. How Jeff and his same-age stepbrother learn to share a bedroom and some good play ideas.

Vigna, Judith. She's Not My Real Mother (Albert Whitman, 1980)

Despite his stepmother's overtures, a boy feels like being mean to her. Who does she think she is, trying to win his affection away from his real mom? How he comes to appreciate her.

Older Elementary & Middle School

Alvarez, J. How Tia Lola Came to Stay (Random House, 2001)

Miguel has just moved with his mom from New York, where his dad lives, to Vermont where he must find friends. Now his Tia Lola, who speaks no English, is coming from the Dominican Republic. Won't that complicate his life even more?

Blackstone-Ford, J. My Parents Are Divorced, Too (Magination Press/ APA, 1997)

Using a question/answer format, three siblings in a divorced family offer their feelings and advice.

Blume, J. It's Not the End of the World (Bantam, 1972)

Perennial favorite novel, featuring 12-year-old Karen and her older & younger siblings during time of divorce.

Draper, S. Blended (Atheneum, 2018)

"Exotic" looking Isabella already had to deal with kids' questions about her race (white mom, Black dad). Now her parents are divorced and arguing fiercely. Isabella finds it hard to do so much switching and remain herself...

Gownley, J., Amelia Rules! (available through, 2009)

Series of graphic novels about nine-year-old Amelia whose parents have recently divorced and who had to move to a new town. Divorce is not the plot, rare in books for kids, but it is dealt with head on as it intrudes into Amelia's new life.

Hopkins, L.B. Been To Yesterdays: Poems of a Life (Boyd Mills Press, 1995)

Excellent poems about family separation and survival. Could be used as starting points for children to write their own poems.

Knisley, L. Stepping Stones (RH Graphic, 2020)

Gorgeous graphic novel about Jen, a city girl who has moved with her mom and her mom's boyfriend to a farm where she finds two new "sisters" she never asked for. Things don't turn out to be so bad.

Nobody Asked Me board game (Creative Therapy Press)

Excellent board game to promote discussion of feelings and common events in the lives of children of divorce. Publisher lists as for ages 8 and up.

Stern, Z. and E. Divorce Is Not the End of the World (Tricycle Press, 2008)

A brother and sister give their point of view about divorce. They include "letters" they received and propose questions for readers to answer. These can serve as jumping off points for activities and discussions.

Taking the "Duh" Out of Divorce, 2004, 30 minute video. Available for purchase at

In cartoon format, Skye finds out about her parents' impending divorce, then dreams of a courtroom scene in which she argues against it while her hyperactive friend plays the opposing attorney.

Tender Places, 1987 (30 minute video) Available for purchase from Phoenix Learning Group, 800-228-9345.

Written by middle school student Jason Brown, this is the story of a boy whose divorced parents are fighting over custody. Jean Stapleton plays a mysterious, wise neighbor in whom he confides.

Middle School & Up

Divorce and Stepfamilies: Breaking Apart, Coming Together (30 minute video)
(available for purchase through

From PBS series "In the Mix"--excellent documentary narrated by two teens composed of two segments: the first depicts Banana Splits in a Massachusetts school, the second a recently formed stepfamily.

Kamowski, K. & S. Piro Compassionate Cartoons about Divorce (, 2018)

New Yorker-style cartoons featuring kids' and adults' reactions to divorce. Great discussion starters.

MacGregor, Cynthia, The Divorce Helpbook for Teens (Impact Publishers, 2004)

V. Dad Was Never Known To Child


Lindsay, J.W. Do I Have a Daddy? (Morning Glory Press, Buena Park, CA, 1991)
Available for purchase at

Little boy taunted by a friend wants to know where his daddy really is. His mom tells the story of his never-married parents; his dad left before child ever saw him. Child then goes upstairs to spend time with grandfather.

Simon, N. I Wish I Had My Father (Albert Whitman, Morton Grove, IL, 1983)

Father's Day brings back two friends' longing for the fathers they never knew. Very honest.