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Cancer: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about cancer?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to cancer. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about cancer.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about cancer, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Year My Mother Was Bald to popular sellers like Fault in Our Stars.

We hope this list of kids books about cancer can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear?
Written by Vanessa Bayer & illustrated by Rosie Butcher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

You and your friend Bear are an excellent pair. But if your friend gets sick, And can’t do all the things that you two love to do… You may wonder–how do you care for a very sick Bear? When someone dear is dealing with illness, it’s difficult to know what to do or say. The actor Vanessa Bayer experienced this firsthand when she was treated for childhood leukemia. In her first children’s book, she offers gentle, reassuring advice that people of all ages will appreciate.

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Echo's Sister
Written by Paul Mosier
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From critically acclaimed author Paul Mosier, a Publishers Weekly Flying Start, comes a stunning story about the beauty of family, the power of community, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit. Twelve-year-old El has planned on making her first week at a new school fantastic. She won’t go by her given name, Laughter. She’ll sit in the back of the classroom where she can make new friends. She won’t even have time to think about all the fun her old friends are having without her. Everything will be great. But when her dad picks her up after school and tells her that her younger sister, Echo, has a life-threatening illness, her world is suddenly turned upside down. And with her parents now pressed for time and money, El feels lost and powerless. Then she befriends Octavius, the only other kid in school who gets what she’s going through. As El begins to adjust to her new life, she soon finds that maybe a little hope and a lot of love can overcome any obstacle.

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Lemonade Club
Written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Everyone loves Miss Wichelman’s fifth-grade class–especially best friends Traci and Marilyn. That’s where they learn that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade! They are having a great year until Traci begins to notice some changes in Marilyn. She’s losing weight, and seems tired all the time. She has leukemia–and a tough road of chemotherapy ahead. It is not only Traci and Miss Wichelman who stand up for her, but in a surprising and unexpected turn, the whole fifth-grade class, who figures out a way to say we’re with you.<p>In true Polacco fashion, this book turns lemons into lemonade and celebrates amazing life itself. <p/></p>

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When a Kid Like Me Fights Cancer
Written by Catherine Stier & illustrated by Angel Chang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

When a young boy finds out he has cancer, he learns a lot right away. He learns that cancer is something you fight, and that cancer isn’t anyone’s fault—especially not his. He discovers that many things change with cancer, but some of the most important things stay the same. He also learns that having cancer is easier when everyone around him wants to help him fight.

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Hair for Mama
Written by Kelly A. Tinkham & illustrated by Amy June Bates
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s family picture time for the Carters, but Mama does not want to be in the photo this year. All of her beautiful hair is gone because of chemotherapy treatments for her cancer, and she doesn’t want to be remembered without hair. Eight-year-old Marcus knows that the picture won’t be the same without Mama, so he comes up with a plan to find her some hair and make her better. Even though the plan doesn’t work in quite the way Marcus expects, he comes to understand that hair is nice to have, but not as nice as me having Mama and Mama having me. <P> This is a story for every family dealing with a serious illness. It is told with a touch of gentle humor in a style that children will readily understand, and the warm and inviting illustrations will bring comfort and hope to young and old alike. <BR>”

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  • Mustaches for Maddie - A funny, inspiring story about when life's raindrops fall. Based on a true story.

  • Cancer Hates Kisses - Mothers are superheroes when they’re battling cancer, and this empowering picture book gives them an honest yet spirited way to share the difficult experience with their kids. Author Jessica Reid Sliwerski was diagnosed with breast cancer four months after giving birth to her daughter. And through all the stages of treatment—surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, losing her hair—she thought about how hard it would be to talk to your child about cancer while coping with it. She wrote this picture book to give other parents and their children an encouraging tool for having those conversations—a lovingly upbeat book that is also refreshingly authentic and straightforward. With its simple text and heartwarming illustrations, Cancer Hates Kisses is relatable to any type of cancer.

  • A Monster Calls - An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor. <BR>At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

  • Upside-Down Cake - A young boy recounts the past year of his family’s life in this carefully crafted and sensitively illustrated chapter book. Soon after the narrator’s ninth birthday and his dad’s fortieth birthday, celebrated together with a deliciously gooey pineapple upside-down cake, Dad becomes sick. Before long it’s obvious he won’t be getting better. As his father grows weaker, the narrator struggles with anger, guilt, fear, and grief-emotions that intensify when his father finally passes away. Ultimately the narrator realizes that all his feelings are normal. What’s more, it’s okay to be happy, even to celebrate his next birthday with another upside-down cake. Basing the story on the experiences of her own family, Carol Carrick has written a moving and restorative book for any child who must confront loss.

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Our Dad Is Getting Better
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Winner:
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Halfway Normal
Written & illustrated by Barbara Dee
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Twelve-year-old cancer survivor Norah struggles to fit in at middle school after two years of treatment, but she finds her voice with the help of new friend Griffin, who shares her love of mythology.

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Fault in Our Stars
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 14-17

Now a Major Motion Picture<BR>TODAY Book Club pick<BR>TIME Magazine s #1 Fiction Book of 2012 <BR>”The greatest romance story of this decade.” “Entertainment Weekly” <BR>-Millions of copies sold- <BR>#1”New York Times”Bestseller<BR>#1”Wall Street Journal”Bestseller<BR>#1”USA Today”Bestseller<BR>#1 International Bestseller<BR>#1 Indie Bestseller <P>Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel s story is about to be completely rewritten. <BR>Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, “The Fault in Our Stars” brilliantly explores the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.”

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Year My Mother Was Bald
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

It helps to know what to expect when a parent has cancer. Knowing the facts makes things seem less scary and out of control. The Year My Mother Was Bald is Clare’s journal and scrapbook the year her mother is diagnosed with cancer and goes through treatment. Clare tells her story, shares her feelings, and describes her family’s experiences from her mother’s diagnosis to chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Young readers will learn to understand the science of cancer and its treatments and will take comfort in knowing that they’re not alone and that their feelings are normal.

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You Are the Best Medicine
Written by & illustrated by Jana Christy
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When someone you love has cancer, how can you make them smile? A cuddle, a story, a kiss--and thoughts of you. Because you are the best medicine.

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  • Friend or Fiction - One creative middle-schooler discovers that the best friend a girl can have is the one she makes herself in this charming magical realism read.

  • The Great Googlini - Filip, the ten-year-old son of Croatian immigrants, lives in a boring suburb of the big city,where he passes his time either at school or in his cozy kitchen, googling everything from dinosaurs to the Hubble Space Telescope. When his favorite uncle gets sick, Filip turns to Google for answers. Instead he receives a visit from the Great Googlini, a tiny woman in Converse sneakers who swirls out of the computer vents. She’s not really a genie, she explains: “I’m more of an archivist.” Her visit is a little bit of magic that lets Filip see the magic all around him. Ultimately about the things we can know and the things we can’t, this is a smart, touching, funny chapter book about growing up, braving tough times and looking for answers.

  • Hope Tree: Kids Talk about Breast Cancer - Various kids describe their feelings and how they cope with their mothers’ breast cancer.

  • Because . . . Someone I Love Has Cancer: Kids' Activity Book [With 5 Twist-Up Color Crayons] - This inspired publication is designed to address the basic goals of therapeutic support for children who have a loved one with cancer. Featuring five self-sharpening crayons to inspire creativity, this activity book also includes a 16-page removable guide for caregivers with family and group activities, as well as activities that offer ways to discover inner strengths and enhance self-esteem.

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Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World
Written by Katherine Hannigan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The New York Times bestselling debut novel from acclaimed children's author Katherine Hannigan is both very funny and extraordinarily moving, and is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during homeschooling. It's a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.

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And Still They Bloom: A Family's Journey of Loss and Healing
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Winner: 2013 National Health Information Award, Silver; 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Children’s Picture Book; 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Bronze, Mind/Body/Spirit, Self-Esteem; 2012 Mom’s Choice Award, Gold, Juvenile Level 2 Books 9-12, Mind/Body/Spirit; 2012 USA Best Book Award, Parenting/Family: General; 2012 Association Trends All-Media Contest Finalist Responding to the fact that coping with a parent s death can be especially hard on young children, this beautifully written and illustrated book is a valuable resource for parents and counselors. Ten-year-old Emily and seven-year-old Ben must deal with the loss of their mother to cancer. Guided by conversations with their father, they embark on a journey of grief and healing, each searching for a path to acceptance. Along the way, both children realize that their mother will always be with them in their hearts. And just as their mother s flowers had bloomed in the garden, Emily and Ben emerge from the darkness of grief to bloom once more. Using nature as a backdrop for the cycles of life, this moving story emphasizes hope and healing and will connect with all readers who have lost a loved one.<BR> “

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Wild Blues
Written by Beth Kephart
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

The threat of two escaped convicts and a missing friend lead Lizzie on a harrowing journey through the wilds of the Adirondacks in this stunning novel from National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart. Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s favorite place in the world is her uncle’s cabin. Uncle Davy’s renovated schoolhouse cabin, filled with antiques and on the edge of the Adirondacks, disconnected from the rest of the world, is like something out of a fairy tale. And an escape from reality is exactly what Lizzie needs. Life hasn’t been easy for Lizzie lately. Her father abandoned their family, leaving Lizzie with her oftentimes irresponsible mother. Now, her mom has cancer and being unable to care for Lizzie during her chemotherapy, Mom asks her where she’d like to spend the summer. The answer is simple: Uncle Davy’s cabin. Lizzie loves her uncle’s home for many reasons, but the main one is Matias, Uncle Davy’s neighbor and Lizzie’s best friend. Matias has proportionate dwarfism, but that doesn’t stop him and Lizzie from wandering in the woods. Every day they go to their favorite nook where Matias paints with watercolors and Lizzie writes. Until one day when Matias never arrives. When news breaks about two escaped convicts from the nearby prison, Lizzie fears the worst. And when Uncle Davy goes missing, too, Lizzie knows she’s the only one who knows this area of woods well enough to save them. Armed with her trusted Keppy survival book, Lizzie sets out into the wilds of the Adirondacks, proving just how far she’ll go to save the people she loves.

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