The best picture books to help kids find a new way to think about themselves and home after divorce

Tamara Ellis Smith Author Of Here and There
By Tamara Ellis Smith

Who am I?

When my sister got divorced, she and my nephew, Jordy, moved in with our parents. My mother was—and still is—a big music fan, and she decided to play the same music in her house that Jordy’s dad played in his. The music became a bridge; a way for Jordy to feel like he was at home in both places. I loved this and kept it tucked away for years before Here and There came to me. I feel passionate about helping kids find a way to feel safe and comfortable in themselves—no matter where they are or what they’re going through—and all the books on my list do this brilliantly.


I wrote...

Here and There

By Tamara Ellis Smith, Evelyn Daviddi (illustrator),

Book cover of Here and There

What is my book about?

After Ivan's parents separate, he has trouble finding joy at either of their homes until he discovers that the birds and music that he loves may be found in both places.

The books I picked & why

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The Ring Bearer

By Floyd Cooper,

Book cover of The Ring Bearer

Why this book?

The Ring Bearer is a celebration of a blended family. Jackson has a big job: he must carry the ring in his mother’s wedding ceremony. He’s nervous. What if he drops it? What if he trips? The simple action of this story is relatable for kids and, even more importantly, they will connect with the deeper fears Jackson faces—big changes, new family dynamics, and sharing love. Also, Floyd Cooper’s illustrations? Stunning.  


A Kids Book About Divorce

By Ashley Simpo,

Book cover of A Kids Book About Divorce

Why this book?

A Kids Book About Divorce is a brilliant book for parents and children to read together. It gives voice to questions kids might be scared to ask and illuminates feelings they’ve kept in the dark. Like all of the A Kids Book About books—written and published by the awesome and innovative kids media company, A Kids Company About—this is a great place to initiate an honest discussion about a tough life change. I love how clear it is, in both subject and design. It gets to the heart of divorce.


The Rabbit Listened

By Cori Doerrfeld,

Book cover of The Rabbit Listened

Why this book?

This pick isn’t about divorce, but oh-my-gosh, it is a brilliant reminder that sometimes (most of the time?) the best thing you can do for someone else is just—listen. The girl in the story, Taylor, works hard to build a tower only to watch it crash to the ground. Her friends offer well-meaning suggestions and advice, but it’s only when the rabbit sits quietly and listens that she begins to feel better. The Rabbit Listened is a humbling reminder to open our ears, not our mouths, when our children are going through something tough, like divorce.


Boats for Papa

By Jessixa Bagley,

Book cover of Boats for Papa

Why this book?

This book isn’t about divorce, but it is about how to be present—right here and right now—and have your heart in two places at once. Buckley (a beaver gorgeously drawn by Jessixa) lives with his mother at the edge of the ocean, where he spends much of his time building boats and setting them to sail. He tucks a note into each boat to his papa, who has been gone for a long time. And when they don’t come back, he knows somewhere, somehow, his papa is receiving them. I love this book so much. It is full of empathy and love—and the twist at the end takes my breath away each time I read it!


Two Naomis

By Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Audrey Vernick,

Book cover of Two Naomis

Why this book?

I’m cheating and throwing in a middle grade novel! It’s that good! This one can be read independently or as a read-aloud. (Side note: I still read every night to my 14- and 10-year-olds and plan to for as long as they’ll let me.) A story about redefining family, Two Naomis explores the growing relationship—first antagonistic and slowly becoming loving—between Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith, whose parents become seriously involved. Hilarious and full of heart, this story is a great contemporary take on divorce and blended families. And Audrey and Olugbemisola are brilliant human beings and make a kick-ass writing team to boot!


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in divorce, African Americans, and friendships?

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