In an ideal world, we’d keep our kids sheltered from tragedy until they’re well into their teens. The idea of our children going through any sort of hurt or pain is often too much to bear. Unfortunately, serious illnesses such as cancer are part and parcel of life and as parents, we have no choice about those affected or when.
That’s why it’s so important that we’re prepared to handle these issues when they crop up unexpectedly. And one way of doing this without getting too serious and technical is by reading children’s books specifically written for these situations. They illustrate tragedies in a way that children can understand them, helping them understand difficult issues. The following books have been written with kids in mind deal with a wide variety of health issues, from chronic conditions to terminal diseases.
The Girl with No Hair
Most people tend to relate hair loss with male pattern baldness. In other words, with men only. But hair loss can affect everyone, no matter how old or what gender. But considering how uncommon it is for girls to suffer from conditions such as alopecia areata, it can make losing hair a much more painful experience (even though there are some treatment options available). And kids usually just don’t get it. Dad having no hair is something that’s funny, but mom losing hers doesn’t make sense.
Elizabeth Murphy-Melas has written a superb book titled ‘The Girl with No Hair’. Expertly illustrated by Alex Hernandez, the book goes through Kelly’s journey of suffering from alopecia from a very early age. Combined with big names such as Gail Porter suffering from the condition, books like these will help your child understand that losing one’s hair doesn’t make someone strange or stare-worthy!
Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings
This book will resonate with a lot of people, as it deals with cancer which, unfortunately, affects most families. It’s a truly beautiful book that takes a child through the most common questions they’ll have when they first hear that their mom has cancer.
The book is comforting, hopeful, but also gives the reality of the message. It’s well-written by someone who has worked closely with children in the health profession – in other words, Ellen McVicker really knows what she’s talking about. What you’ll need to note is that this book is written specifically with mothers in mind. So while it’s still relevant, it may not be the best pick if your child’s grandparent, father, or other close relation other than the mom has cancer. Otherwise, it’s a top pick for me!
When Mommy has a Mastectomy
This is another book that deals with cancer, though in this case it specifically covers breast cancer amongst women. When Mommy has a Mastectomy goes through what it means to have cancer in an easy-to-understand manner, while also explaining what a mastectomy is. It does this by telling the story of one particular girl whose mom is sick, which makes it so much easier for the child to understand the trajectory of this awful disease.
The book not only has engaging text that’s purposefully written for a child, but it also has accompanying illustrations that further explain the situation. The illustrations allow the parent to explain it to younger children in an easier way. If you or a loved one have gone through breast cancer before, this book is a definite tear-jerker.