14 Children's Books About Divorce

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
My Bright Friend book
#1
My Bright Friend
Written by Simon Boulerice and illustrated by Marilyn Faucher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Now that his parents are separated, Ludo has two homes: one in the country with his mom, and the other in the city with his dad. The young boy doesn’t like leaving the countryside and his friends to go to his father’s apartment in the city, but he does find some entertainment in the flashing traffic lights on the street corner under his window. Ludo convinces himself (with the help of his father) that the lights are controlled by a tiny gentleman who sits inside the signal pole, flipping switches all day and night. Ludo starts sneaking out to leave food for the man, and he soon makes a new friend in the big city. A tender story, complemented by vibrant illustrations, that reminds us empathy and generosity are marvelous tools to overcome one’s troubles.

The Friendship Lie book
#2
The Friendship Lie
Written by Rebecca Donnelly and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Cora Davis's life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels—to be thrown away. Between her mom and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster. But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents' trash-tracking studies: Things don't always go where they're supposed to, and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person's trash is another's treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems. Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself. Written by Rebecca Donnelly, author of How to Stage a Catastrophe (an Indies Introduce and Indie Next List honoree), The Friendship Lie will speak to any reader who has struggled with what to hold on to and what to throw away.

Blended book
#3
Blended
Written by Sharon Draper
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Eleven-year-old Isabella’s blended family is more divided than ever in this thoughtful story about divorce and racial identity from the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind, Sharon M. Draper. Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced, so she has to switch lives every week: One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves. Because of this, Isabella has always felt pulled between two worlds. And now that her parents are divorced, it seems their fights are even worse, and they’re always about HER. Isabella feels even more stuck in the middle, split and divided between them than ever. And she’s is beginning to realize that being split between Mom and Dad is more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. Her dad is black, her mom is white, and strangers are always commenting: “You’re so exotic!” “You look so unusual.” “But what are you really?” She knows what they’re really saying: “You don’t look like your parents.” “You’re different.” “What race are you really?” And when her parents, who both get engaged at the same time, get in their biggest fight ever, Isabella doesn’t just feel divided, she feels ripped in two. What does it mean to be half white or half black? To belong to half mom and half dad? And if you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole? It seems like nothing can bring Isabella’s family together again—until the worst happens. Isabella and Darren are stopped by the police. A cell phone is mistaken for a gun. And shots are fired.

Rosetown book
#4
Rosetown
Written by Cynthia Rylant
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant comes the charming story of nine-year-old Flora Smallwood and the eventful year she spends in the quiet community of Rosetown, Indiana. For nine-year-old Flora Smallwood, Rosetown, Indiana, is full of surprises, many of the best of which happen at the Wing and a Chair Used Book Shop, where she loves to read vintage children’s books after school in the faded purple chair by the window. But lately, those surprises haven’t been so good. Her dear old dog, Laurence, recently passed away. Not long after, her parents decided to take a breather from their marriage, and now Flora has to move back and forth between their two houses. Plus, she’s just begun fourth grade, and it is so much different than third. Luckily Flora has two wonderful friends—one old and one new. And with them around to share thoughts and laughs and adventures big and small, life in Rosetown still has many sweet moments—and even some very happy surprises!

Road Trip with Max and His Mom book
#5
Road Trip with Max and His Mom
Written by Linda Urban and illustrated by Katie Kath
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Third-grader Max is heading off on a road trip with Mom. With miles to travel, cousins to meet, and a tall roller coaster to ride (maybe), it will be an adventure! But Max always spends weekends with Dad; will Dad be okay if he’s left behind? And will Max be brave enough for all the new explorations ahead of him?

Weekends with Max and His Dad book
#6
Weekends with Max and His Dad
Written by Linda Urban and illustrated by Katie Kath
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

From acclaimed author Linda Urban comes a younger middle-grade novel about the weekend adventures of a boy and his dad, who each see "home" in new ways as they adjust to changes in their family. Max and his dad love their weekends together. Weekends mean pancakes, pizza, spy games, dog walking, school projects, and surprising neighbors! Every weekend presents a small adventure as Max gets to know his dad's new neighborhood--and learns some new ways of thinking about home. Acclaimed author Linda Urban deftly portrays a third-grader's inner world during a time of transition in this sweet and funny illustrated story that bridges the early reader and middle grade novel.

Moon Shadow book
#7
Moon Shadow
Written and illustrated by Erin Downing
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Thirteen-year-old Lucia Frank discovers that she can become the girl she’s always wanted to be with the help of a little “moon magic” in this charming novel about the value of friendship, family, and finding yourself. Lucia Frank has never had time for her mom’s “new age” nonsense. She doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. All she wants is to figure out how to get her best friend, Will, back and cope with her parents looming divorce. But then something strange happens on the night of her thirteenth birthday. When the eclipsed moon slips into the shadow of the earth, Lucia’s Shadow slips out. Now hidden in a moonstone, the Shadow waits for Lucia to sleep so it can come out to play. Lucia’s Shadow seems unlike her in almost every way: daring, outspoken, and unwilling to let anyone push her around. But it actually isn’t the anti-Lucia…in fact, her Shadow is very much like the person Lucia wishes she could be. At first, Lucia is eager to undo whatever magic happened on her birthday so life can get back to normal. But when she realizes her Shadow is doing and saying things she has only dreamed about, she wonders if maybe things aren’t all bad. With a little help from her Shadow, she’s turning into the kind of girl she’s always wanted to be.

I Love You More Than . . . book
#8
I Love You More Than . . .
Written by Taye Diggs and illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

My child. I am not always with you as much as I’d like. But you are always in my mind and my heart. Some families look different than others. A father who doesn’t live full-time with his son tells him all the ways he misses and loves him. Perfect for families who are separated, whatever the circumstances, this message of love underscores the bond between parent and child in ways that little ones will understand.

Room of Shadows book
#9
Room of Shadows
Written by Ronald Kidd
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

There's something odd about the house David Cray and his mom moved into following his parents' split. Sure, it's old and battered and a little off-kilter, but that's not all. With so many nooks and crannies, it seems like the walls were built to keep things hidden--or maybe from getting out. David's suspicions are confirmed when he uncovers a secret room that looks like it hasn't been touched in ages. Inside, an ancient desk and carving of a raven beckon to him. Suddenly, disaster seems to follow him everywhere, and he starts to notice connections between the terrible events happening around him and the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Has David unleashed a dark force by opening the room? Or has the room awakened something in David that he doesn't recognize?

Knockout book
#10
Knockout
Written and illustrated by K. A. Holt
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Levi just wants to be treated like a typical kid. As a baby, he had a serious disease that caused him respiratory issues. He's fine now, but his mom and overprotective brother still think of him as damaged, and his schoolmates see him as the same class clown he's always been. He feels stuck. So when his dad—divorced from his mom—suggests he take up boxing, he falls in love with the sport. And when he finds out about a school with a killer boxing team and a free-study curriculum, it feels like he's found a ticket to a new Levi. But how can he tell his mom about boxing? And how can he convince his family to set him free?

Tiny Infinities book
#11
Tiny Infinities
Written and illustrated by J. H. Diehl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

When Alice's dad moves out, leaving her with her troubled mother, she does the only thing that feels right: she retreats to her family's old Renaissance tent in the backyard, determined to live there until her dad comes home. In an attempt to keep at least one part of her summer from changing, Alice focuses on her quest to swim freestyle fast enough to get on her swim team's record board. But summers contain multitudes, and soon Alice meets an odd new friend, Harriet, whose obsession with the school's science fair is equal only to her conviction that Alice's best stroke is backstroke, not freestyle. Most unexpected of all is an unusual babysitting charge, Piper, who is mute—until Alice hears her speak. A funny and honest middle-grade novel, this sharply observed depiction of family, friendship, and Alice's determination to prove herself—as a babysitter, as a friend, as a daughter, as a person—rings loud and true.

The Vegetable Museum book
#12
The Vegetable Museum
Written and illustrated by Michelle Mulder
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Thirteen-year-old Chloë left her whole life back in Montreal, including her mom and her best friend. Now she’s stuck in Victoria with her dad and her estranged grandfather, Uli, who recently had a stroke. When Chloë agrees to help Uli look after his garden, she’s determined to find out why he and her dad didn’t speak to each other for years. For decades Uli has collected seeds from people in the community, distinct varieties that have been handed down through generations. The result is a garden full of unusual and endangered produce, from pink broccoli to blue kale to purple potatoes. But Chloë learns that the garden will soon be destroyed to make way for a new apartment complex. And the seed collection is missing! Chloë must somehow find a way to save her grandfather’s legacy

The Lost Boy's Gift book
#13
The Lost Boy's Gift
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

There are places where you want to go and places where you want to leave. There are also places where you want to stay. Nine-year-old Daniel must move across the country with his mom after his parents’ divorce. He’s leaving behind his whole life—everything—and he’s taking a suitcase of anger with him. But Daniel is in for a surprise when he settles into While-a-Way Lane and meets his new neighbors—the Lemonade Girl, the hopscotching mailman, the tiny creatures, and especially Tilda Butter. Tilda knows how to look and listen closely, and it's that gift that helps Daniel find his way in that curious place called While-a-Way Lane. Kimberly Willis Holt explores themes of divorce, acceptance, intergenerational friendship, and the power that comes with listening thoughtfully in this insightful novel.

All of Me book
#14
All of Me
Written by Chris Baron
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Ari has body-image issues. After a move across the country, his parents work selling and promoting his mother's paintings and sculptures. Ari's bohemian mother needs space to create, and his father is gone for long stretches of time on "sales" trips. Meanwhile, Ari makes new friends: Pick, the gamer; the artsy Jorge, and the troubled Lisa. He is also relentlessly bullied because he's overweight, but he can't tell his parents—they're simply not around enough to listen. After an upsetting incident, Ari's mom suggests he go on a diet, and she gives him a book to help. But the book—and the diet—can’t fix everything. As Ari faces the demise of his parents' marriage, he also feels himself changing, both emotionally and physically. Here is a much-needed story about accepting the imperfect in oneself and in life.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!