Best Children's Books About Illness

21 Children's Books About Illness

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
The Two Princesses of Bamarre book
#1
The Two Princesses of Bamarre
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must fulfill an ancient prophecy. Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other. The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters' lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.

How Tickles Saved Pickles book
#2
How Tickles Saved Pickles
Written and illustrated by Maddie Johnson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Esther the Wonder Pig meets Little Book of Sloth in this charming true story about the adorable Instagram stars, Pickles the pig and his friend—the hog-turned-hero—Tickles. Pickles the Pig (@LivingwithPickles) has been featured on The Dodo, Inside Edition, and People! Pickles is a pig, rescued as a wee one and now living it up at his forever home. But one day Pickles becomes very sick. His only hope? One big sow with an even bigger heart on a faraway farm…but will she get to Pickles in time? Learn the true story about one extraordinary pig and his savior in this inspiring photographic picture book!

Bubble book
#3
Bubble
Written and illustrated by Stewart Foster
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-10

Wonder meets Mark Haddon in the poignant and uplifting debut novel about superheroes, super-nurses, and the beauty you can find in hope. Eleven-year-old Joe has never had a life outside of the hospital, with its beeping machines and view of London’s rooftops. His condition means he’s not allowed outside, not even for a moment, and his few visitors risk bringing life-threatening germs inside his bubble. Then a new nurse offers Joe the possibility of going outside. But Joe doesn’t know if the nurse is serious—or whether he could survive the adventure. Bubble is the touching story of how Joe spends his days, copes with his loneliness and frustration, and looks—with superhero-style bravery, curiosity, and hope—to a future without limits.

Cyclone book
#4
Cyclone
Written and illustrated by Doreen Cronin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Nora’s whole world plummets faster than the Cyclone roller coaster when her cousin Riley falls into a coma that Nora thinks is her fault in this warm, big-hearted debut middle grade novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Doreen Cronin. Riding the Cyclone, the world famous Coney Island rollercoaster, was supposed to be the highlight of Nora’s summer. But right after they disembark, Nora’s cousin Riley falls to the ground…and doesn’t get up. Nora had begged and dragged Riley onto the ride, and no matter what the doctors say, that she had a heart condition, that it could have happened at any time, Nora knows it was her fault. Then, as Riley comes out of her coma, she’s not really Riley at all. The cousin who used to be loud and funny and unafraid now can’t talk, let alone go to the bathroom by herself. Now she’s only 10% Riley. Nora, guilt eating her up on the inside worse than a Coney Island hotdog, thinks she knows how to help. How to get 100% Riley back. But what Nora doesn’t realize is that the guilt will only get worse as that percentage rises.

A Nearer Moon book
#5
A Nearer Moon
Written and illustrated by Melanie Crowder
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Long ago the dam formed, the lively river turned into a swamp, and the wasting illness came to Luna's village, and now that her little sister is sick Luna will do anything to save her, even offer herself to the creature that lives in the swamp on the day of the nearer moon--a lonely and bitter water sprite who was left behind when her people fled through a door to another world.

Finding Granny book
#6
Finding Granny
Written by Kate Simpson and illustrated by Gwynneth Jones
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Every two seconds, someone in the world suffers a stroke. In Finding Granny, that someone is Edie’s beloved grandmother. When Edie comes to the hospital, she is confronted by the physical changes in her grandmother: muddled words, a crooked face, a woman confined to bed. This isn’t the ‘playtime, bedtime, story-time pantomime Granny’ that Edie knows. "That’s not my Granny," she says, as she waits outside in the corridor during her mother’s visits. But when her mother takes Edie to watch one of Granny’s art therapy sessions, Edie starts to understand that the Granny she loves is still there. Finding Granny is a heart-warming story of changing relationships and the bond between children and grandparents. It’s also a sensitive exploration of coping with illness and disability that will offer children much-needed comfort.

Pocket Bios: Frida Kahlo book
#7
Pocket Bios: Frida Kahlo
Written and illustrated by Al Berenger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Frida Kahlo remains one of the most celebrated painters of her time for her exploration of themes of feminism, gender, class, and race in her artwork and frequent self-portraits. From her childhood struggle with polio, to the traffic accident that left her with chronic pain, to her artistic exploration of herself and her identity, follow this extraordinary woman's life and accomplishments.These colorful, pocket-size biographies are full of personality, introducing readers to fascinating figures from history with simple storytelling and cheerful illustrations. Pocket Bios titles include men and women from history, exploration, the sciences, the arts, the ancient world, and more.

The Right Hook of Devin Velma book
#8
The Right Hook of Devin Velma
Written and illustrated by Jake Burt
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Even though he suffers from social anxiety, twelve-year-old Addison agrees to help his best friend achieve social media fame while at a nationally-televised NBA game.

Lucky Break book
#9
Lucky Break
Written and illustrated by Marty Kelley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

When Molly Mac loses her "lucky" pencil, she starts to panic. She needs her pencil to create a drawing for the school's art show. Just when her luck is running out, things get even worse. Will Molly be able to enter the art contest? She needs good luck, and fast!

Purple Death book
#10
Purple Death
Written by David Getz and illustrated by Peter McCarty
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

It was the worst epidemic in this country's history, and the search for its cause is still one of science's most urgent quests. It was 1918, the last year of World War 1. Thousands of men lived in the crowded army training camps that were scattered all across the United States. That spring, a strange flu struck the soldiers at a camp in the Midwest. Healthy young men went to the hospital complaining of sore throats and fevers. Within hours they had suffocated, their skin taking on a terrible purplish hue. The devastating flu spread like wildfire across the country, infecting soldiers and civilians alike. It killed more than half a million people in a matter of months, then disappeared as suddenly as it had come. To this day, no one knows what caused a common flu to become so deadly, but scientists are still searching for answers. What they discover could save millions of lives if another common flu virus suddenly turns into a killer. In this riveting account, acclaimed nonfiction author David Getz tells young readers the story of the mysterious flu known as the Purple Death -- the virus responsible for the worst epidemic in American history.

Everything I Know About You book
#11
Everything I Know About You
Written and illustrated by Barbara Dee
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Misfit Tally is forced to room with queen bee Ava on the seventh-grade field trip to Washington, DC, and discovers several surprising things about her roommate—including the possibility of an eating disorder—in this timely new novel from the author of Star-Crossed and Halfway Normal.

The Promise book
#12
The Promise
Written by Margie Wolfe, Pnina Bat Zvi and illustrated by Isabelle Cardinal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

The night that Rachel and Toby’s parents are taken away by the Nazis, they give their daughters three gold coins. “Use these wisely to help save your lives,” they tell them. They also ask the girls to promise that they will always stay together. This compelling true story follows the girls as they confront the daily horrors of Auschwitz, protecting one another, sharing memories, fears and even laughter. Always together. But when Rachel becomes ill and is taken away by Nazi guards, likely forever, Toby risks her life to use the wellhidden gold coins to rescue her little sister.

Kasey & Ivy book
#13
Kasey & Ivy
Written and illustrated by Alison Hughes
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Through twenty-six letters to her friend Nina, twelve-year-old Kasey chronicles the often humorous observations and impressions of her unexpected, month-long stay in a geriatric ward for the treatment of a rare but treatable bone disease (“osteo-something-something-itis”). Kasey tries to make her life less dull by wearing her own nightgowns, surrounding herself with her favorite stuffies and developing an unusual exercise routine. Hospital food, insomnia and the germy communal bath are enduring sources of dread, but some new (and unexpected) friends make her life bearable.

Stricken book
#14
Stricken
Written and illustrated by C. K. Kelly Martin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

Naomi doesn’t expect anything unusual from her annual family trip to visit her grandparents in Ireland. What she finds is a country hit by an unexpected virus that rapidly infects the majority of the Irish population over the age of twenty-one, turning its victims aggravated, blank or violent. Naomi and her friends must survive on their own, without lucid adults, cut off from the rest of the world, until a cure is found.

On Our Street book
#15
On Our Street
Written by Jaime Casap, Jillian Roberts and illustrated by Jane Heinrichs
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A gentle introduction to the issue of poverty, On Our Street explores the realities of people living with inadequate resources. Using age-appropriate language, this book addresses mental illness, homelessness and refugee status as they are connected to this issue. Insightful quotes from individuals and organizations such as unicef are included to add further perspective on the issue. A section on how kids can help empowers readers to take what they have learned and use it to make a difference. Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts created this series to guide parents/caregivers through conversations about difficult issues in a reassuring and hopeful manner and help children understand their expanding awareness of the world around them.

Knockout book
#16
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?

Marvin's Monster Diary book
#17
Marvin's Monster Diary
Written by Annette Sexton, Raun Melmed and illustrated by Jeff Harvey
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-11

Meet Marvin, a lovable monster with a twelve-stringed baby fang guitar, a rambunctious case of ADHD, and a diary to record it all. His teachers scold him, his parents don't know what to do with him, and his sister is convinced he was raised by triple-tailed monkeys. In short, Marvin's life is feeling out of controle until a secret formula changes everything. In the same humorous spirit of Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes Marvin's Monster Diary: ADHD Attacks! (And I Win, Big Time). Using the "monstercam" and "ST4" techniques developed by Dr. Raun Melmed of the Melmed Center in Arizona, Marvin's Monster Diary teaches kids how to be mindful, observe their surroundings, and take time to think about their actions. Marvin's hilarious doodles and diary entries chronicle his delightful adventures, misadventures, and eventual triumph in a funny, relatable way. It's the one book on ADHD that kids will actually want to read! Marvin's Monster Diary also includes a resource section to help parents and teachers implement Dr. Melmed's methods, plus ST4 reminders that kids can remove, color, and place around the house.

The Great Googlini book
#18
The Great Googlini
Written by Sara Cassidy and illustrated by Charlene Chua
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

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.

Miles to Go book
#19
Miles to Go
Written and illustrated by Beryl Young
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

A powerful and poignant story of two young girls' friendship, family, loss, and loyalty, set in 1940s Saskatchewan. "Beryl Young's novel Miles to Go is sparse, poetic and, at times, perfectly heart wrenching. It subtly captures the coming of age of two young prairie girls. The beauty of this story is in the little things, the life things. In short: it's wonderful."--Arthur Slade, Governor General's Award-winning author of Dust "This is a tender story about two friends dealing with tragic personal loss. Beryl Young captures a snapshot of small town life in the 1940s. Lovingly told, realistic, sad, and, like life, often very funny."--Harriet Zaidman, teacher-librarian and writer, Winnipeg, Manitoba Miles to Go is the story of a friendship between two twelve-year-old girls in a small Saskatchewan town. In the spring of 1948, each girl faces a heavy personal loss and challenges that threaten their friendship. Through a hard few months the girls learn the meaning of loyalty and the value of keeping a promise. Loosely based on the author's own experiences of growing up in rural Saskatchewan, this book's timeless themes and authentic emotion will speak to young readers.

Madeline book
#20
Madeline
Written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines the smallest one was Madeline.” Nothing frightens Madeline—not tigers, not mice, not even getting sick. With its endearing, courageous heroine, cheerful humor, and wonderful, whimsical drawings of Paris, the Madeline stories are true classics that continue to charm readers even after 75 years!

Almost Famous book
#21
Almost Famous
Written by David Getz
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Ten-year-old Maxine is determined to become a famous inventor so she can take care of her younger brother's heart condition, and she convinces a troubled classmate to help her.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.