Talking with Children about Cancer: Books and Other Resources

Talking with Children about Cancer: Books and Other Resources

Books for Adults about Helping Children through a Parent’s Cancer
  • Can I Still Kiss You? Answering Your Children’s Questions about Cancer by Neil Russell
  • Cancer in the Family: Helping Children Cope with a Parent’s Illness by Sue P. Heiney, Joan F. Hermann, Katherine V. Bruss, and Joy L. Fincannon
  • Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer by Peter R. van Dernoot
  • How to Help Children through a Parent’s Serious Illness: Supportive, Practical Advice from a Leading Child Life Specialist by Kathleen McCue
  • Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child When a Parent Is Sick by Paula K. Rauch and Anna C. Muriel
  • When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children by Wendy S. Harpham
  • When a Parent Is Seriously Ill: Practical Tips for Helping Parents and Children by Leigh Collins and Courtney Nathan
Books for Teens about Having a Parent with Cancer
  • Both Sides Now by Ruth Pennebaker
  • Breast Cancer: Questions and Answers for Young Women by Carole G. Vogel
  • My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks by Marc Silver
  • The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time by Dzung X. Vo
  • When Your Parent Has Cancer, the National Cancer Institute
Books for Children about Having a Parent with Cancer
  • Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings by Ellen McVicker (also available in Spanish), ages 4 to 8
  • Cancer! Explaining Cancer to Kids, Prodigy Wizard Books, ages 4 to 8
  • Cancer Hates Kisses by Jessica Reid Sliwerski, ages 3 to 5
  • Cows on the Couch: A Cancer Story by Christine White, ages 4 to 8
  • Hair for Momma by Kelly A. Tinkham, ages 4 to 8
  • Let My Colors Out by Courtney Filigenzi, ages 2 to 4
  • Medikids comics (written by doctors about different cancers and treatments; can be found in libraries or Amazon; search online at
  • Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo: A Gentle Story Explaining Breast Cancer to a Young Child by Eileen Sutherland, ages 2 to 5
  • Mom Has Cancer! (Let’s Talk about It) by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos (also available in Spanish), ages 4 to 8
  • My Dad Has Cancer by Lauren Faye Uribe, ages 4 to 8
  • Nowhere Hair by Sue Glader (also available in Spanish), ages 4 to 8
  • Our Dad Is Getting Better and Our Mom Is Getting Better by Alex, Emily, and Anna Rose Silver, ages 4 to 8
  • Our Family Has Cancer, Too by Christine Clifford, ages 9 to 12
  • Our Mom Has Cancer by Abigail Ackerman and Adrienne Ackerman, ages 4 to 8
  • Punk Wig by Lori Ries, ages 4 to 8
  • The Cancer That Wouldn’t Go Away: A Story for Kids about Metastatic Cancer by Hadassa Field, ages 4 to 8
  • The Goodbye Cancer Garden by Janna Matthies, ages 4 to 8
  • The Hope Tree: Kids Talk about Breast Cancer by Laura Numeroff and Wendy S. Harpham, ages 4 to 8
  • The Paper Chain by Claire Blake, Eliza Blanchard, and Kathy Parkinson, ages 6 to 9
  • The Rainbow Feelings of Cancer: A Book for Children Who Have a Loved One with Cancer by Chia Martin and Carrie Martin, ages 4 to 8
  • The Year My Dad Went Bald: A Tale of Cancer, Chemo, and Dealing with a Cold Head by Brian Kraft, ages 6-12
  • The Year My Mother Was Bald by Ann Speltz, ages 8 to 13
  • When Mom’s Cancer Doesn’t Go Away: Helping Children Cope with Loss and Beyond by Maryann Makekau, ages 4 to 8
  • When Someone You Love Has Cancer: A Guide to Help Kids Cope by Alaric Lewis, ages 6-12
  • You Are the Best Medicine by Julie Aigner Clark, ages 4 to 8
Activity Books for Children about Having a Parent with Cancer
  • Because…Someone I Love Has Cancer: Kids’ Activity Book by the American Cancer Society, ages 6 to 12
  • Life Isn’t Always a Day at the Beach: A Book for All Children Whose Lives Are Affected by Cancer by Pam Ganz, ages 5-12
  • Talking with My Treehouse Friends about Cancer: An Activity Book for Children of Parents with Cancer by Peter R. van Dernoot, ages 6 to 12
  • When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness: Children Can Learn to Cope with Loss and Change by Marge Heegaard, ages 9 to 12
Books for Children to Help with Separation
  • Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs by Susan Schaeffer Bernardo, ages 4 to 8
  • That’s Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, ages 3 to 8
  • The Invisible String by Patrice Karst, ages 4 to 8
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, ages 3 to 8
  • Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman, ages 4 to 8
Books for Children to Help Strengthen Resilience
  • Bounce Back! by Cheri J. Meiners, ages 4 to 8
  • I Can Handle It! by Laurie Wright, ages 5 to 8
  • The Hugging Tree: A Story about Resilience by Jill Neimark, ages 5 to 8
  • What Do You Do with a Problem? by Kobi Yamada, ages 5 to 9
Books for Children to Foster Mindfulness
  • A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles by Thich Nhat Hanh, ages 5 and up
  • Angry Octopus: An Anger Management Story Introducing Active Progressive Muscular Relaxation and Deep Breathing by Lori Lite, ages 5 to 11
  • Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere by Kira Willey, ages 4 to 10
  • Listening to My Body by Gabi Garcia, ages 4 to 8
  • Puppy Mind by Andrew Jordan Nance, ages 3 to 7
  • The Mindful Teen by Dzung X. Vo, ages 12 to 18
  • What Does It Mean to Be Present? by Rana DiOrio, ages 4 to 8
Books for Children to Help Understand and Express Emotion
  • Feelings to Share from A to Z by Todd Snow, ages 5 to 8
  • In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek, ages 2 to 6
  • Lots of Feelings by Shelly Rotner, ages 4 to 7
  • My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, ages 2 to 5
  • The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Be Sad by Rob Goldblatt, ages 4 to 8
  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain, ages 3 to 6
  • Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis, ages 4 to 8
  • Understanding Myself: A Kid’s Guide to Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings by Mary C. Lamia, ages 9 to 12
  • Visiting Feelings by Lauren Rubenstein, ages 5 to 8
Activity Books for Children to Help Understand and Express Emotion
  • Drawing Together to Learn about Feelings by Marge Eaton Heegaard
Books for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma
  • A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes, ages 4 to 7
  • Once I Was Very, Very Scared by Chondra Gosh Ippen, ages 6 to 12

Community Support

Cancer Care

The organization offers educational programs as well as group, individual, and family counseling.
275 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
800-813-HOPE (4673)
[email protected]

Long Island

6800 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 120 W, Syosset, NY 11791

New Jersey

141 Dayton Street #204, Ridgewood, NJ 07450



Cancer Support Community

Now the umbrella organization for Gilda’s Club and the Wellness Community, it provides individual and group support for men, women, and children.

Gilda’s Club

This organization offers free emotional and social support for patients and families affected by cancer. Gilda’s Club offers specialized programs for children and teens.

New York City

195 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10014


80 Maple Avenue, White Plains, NY 10601

Southern NJ

700 New Road, Linwood, NJ 08221

Ann’s Place

80 Saw Mill Road, Danbury, CT 06810

The Gathering Place

Westlake and Beachwood, OH

Camp Kesem

These camps are for kids whose parents have or have had cancer. They are run by college student volunteers. Programs can be found throughout the United States.

Community Partnerships

To learn more about how we can help, call 212-639-7029.

MSK’s Talking with Children about Cancer program is available to schools, religious organizations, and other members of the community who are supporting families affected by cancer. Our services include phone consultations and group workshops that provide tools to support students and families affected by cancer. Currently, we have partnerships with the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund (UFTWF) and the Suffolk School Employee Health Program (SSEHP).

If you are a member of either of these organizations, you will be able to speak with an MSK social worker within one business day. Call:
UFTWF: 844-350-5034
SSEHP: 833-825-4563

To speak with one of our social workers about developing a partnership with the Talking with Children about Cancer program, call 212-639-7029.