Books to Support Children When Someone is Ill

When a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness, it can be challenging to navigate the conversations and emotions that arise, especially with children. Here is a list of books to support children when someone is ill, recommended by health and social care professionals, including children and family counsellors, to help guide and support children through these difficult times. These resources are designed to provide comfort, understanding, and a way to discuss illness in an age-appropriate manner.

Books About Illness

1. As Big as it Gets (2007, Winston’s Wish)

This book is geared towards adults and offers guidance on supporting a child when a parent is seriously ill. It includes practical suggestions for what parents and carers might say to children and how best to offer support during such a challenging time.

2. Mummy’s Lump by Gillian Forrest and Sarah Garson (2015, Breast Cancer Now, formerly Breast Cancer Care)

Aimed at young children, this booklet helps parents and carers discuss breast cancer with simple words and pictures. It explains possible treatments, symptoms, and changes that might occur at home when an adult has breast cancer.

3. My Brother and Me by Sarah Courtauld and Rebecca Cobb (2009, Child Bereavement UK)

This storybook is about a boy who has a serious illness and stays in the hospital, and how his brother copes with the different emotions and feelings. Suitable for children aged four to ten, it gently addresses the impact of illness on siblings.

4. The Secret C: Straight Talking About Cancer by Julie Stokes and Peter Bailey (2000, Winston’s Wish)

An illustrated guide designed to help parents or carers talk to children about cancer. It covers what cancer is, possible treatments and symptoms, and the range of emotions children might experience when someone close to them is ill. This book is suitable for children aged seven to ten.

5. When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness: Children Can Learn to Cope with Loss and Change by Marge Heegaard (1991, Woodland Press)

This activity book is a valuable tool for helping children explore their feelings when they or someone close to them has a serious illness. It includes space for children to draw pictures to express their emotions, providing a therapeutic outlet for their experiences.

Additional Resources

While these books focus on illness, there are also numerous resources available for discussing grief and death with children. Ensuring children have access to the right support materials can make a significant difference in how they cope with and understand the complexities of serious illness and loss.

For further support, you can visit the following websites:

  • Winston’s Wish – Offers support and guidance for bereaved children, young people, and their families.
  • Child Bereavement UK – Provides resources and support for families dealing with the loss of a child or a family member.
  • Breast Cancer Now – Offers comprehensive information about breast cancer, including resources for talking to children about the disease.

Providing children with age-appropriate literature and additional support resources can help them navigate their feelings and foster open communication during difficult times. These books and websites are a great starting point for parents and carers looking to support children when someone is ill.