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Separation: Books For Kids

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

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

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. 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 separation, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Kissing Hand to popular sellers like Son to some of our favorite hidden gems like Maple and Willow Apart.

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

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Maple and Willow Apart
Written & illustrated by Lori Nichols
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Funny, relatable sibling dynamics make this story a wonderful way to address navigating big changes. Lori Nichols’s expressive artwork beautifully portrays Maple and Willow’s strong bond, and children will love the creative, kid-powered solution.

Maple and Willow have always been inseparable. So what happens when Maple starts big-girl school and Willow stays behind? Well, of course, both girls have marvelous adventures of their own, but the truth is, they miss each other. And when they see that the missing is mutual, they find a unique way to feel connected even when they have to be apart.

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The Kissing Hand
Written by Audrey Penn & illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him.

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Daddy Long Legs
Written by Nadine Brun-Cosme & illustrated by Aurélie Guillerey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Daddy drives Matthew to kindergarten in his old green car. ?See you this afternoon, ? says Daddy, as he kisses him goodbye. But Matthew stops him from leaving and asks, ?What if, this afternoon, the old green car doesn’t start Thus begins a series of what-ifs that Matthew poses in response to every one of Daddy’s ideas about how he will manage to return and fetch him, each one more fantastic than the last: he’ll come by tractor, by teddy bear, by the wings of birds, by a tiny boat, even by dragon! Finally, Daddy says he’ll use his own two long legs, the ultimate reassurance that he’ll come back for Matthew, no matter what!

Author Nadine Brun-Cosme’s endearing picture book offers warm comfort to young children that their parent can always be counted on. With gentle and imaginative humor, the father’s increasingly wilder ideas about how he will make his way to his son prove the steady and unwavering certainty of a parent’s commitment to a child. The whimsical artwork by Aurélie Guillerey plays lightly with the father’s flights of fancy, keeping the tone of the book just right for a storytime read-aloud. Filled with the love between the boy and his father, this is a perfect book choice to address separation issues common to kindergartners and preschoolers who have difficulty saying goodbye to their parents.

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The Invisible String
Written by Patrice Karst & illustrated by Geoff Stevenson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Picture book for children 4-8 years of age. A simple story that reminds children they are never truly alone. People who love each other are connected by an invisible string made of love.

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Papa Brings Me the World
Written & illustrated by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw’s Papa Brings Me the World is a poignant picture book that celebrates the bond between parent and child, and follows their long-distance trip around the world.

Most parents drive a car or ride a bus or train to work―but not Lulu’s papa. He navigates mountains, deserts, and oceans, each time returning home with pockets full of treasures. There’s an ancient calculator from China, a musical mbira from Zimbabwe, and a special game from Sumatra. But the best treasures are special stories Papa tells when he comes home―tales of playing peekaboo with rare birds in the Andes and befriending dragons in the Irish Sea.

This long-distance love story between parent and child celebrates inclusivity, imagination, and the richness of global cultures.

Christy Ottaviano Books

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  • Little Owl Lost - Uh-oh! Little Owl has fallen from his nest and landed with a whump on the ground. Now he is lost, and his mommy is nowhere to be seen! With the earnest help of his new friend Squirrel, Little Owl goes in search of animals that fit his description of Mommy Owl. But while some are big (like a bear) or have pointy ears (like a bunny) or prominent eyes (like a frog), none of them have all the features that make up his mommy. Where could she be? A cast of adorable forest critters in neon-bright hues will engage little readers right up to the story’s comforting, gently wry conclusion.

  • Invisible String - With half a million copies sold, this accessible, bestselling picture book phenomenon about the unbreakable connections between loved ones has healed a generation of readers--children and adults alike--and has been updated with new illustrations and an afterword from the author. Now available in paperback for the first time!

  • Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon - During the last 20 years, parents and teachers have passed along the secret of the Kissing Hand to children facing first days of kindergarten, first grade, and other separations. Now younger children can get in on Mama Raccoon’s secret and find comfort in <i>A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon</i>, a board-book adaptation of the original picture book. Chester could feel his mother’s kiss leap straight into his heart. With a Kissing Hand, said Chester’s mom, We’ll never be apart. Just press your hand upon your cheek and feel that loving glow. It’s Mommy saying, ‘I love you, ‘ wherever you may go. The Kissing Hand has become a children’s classic that has touched the lives of millions of children and their parents. A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon conveys the heart of the story in rhyming verse, perfect for read-aloud and easy for even the little ones to remember and recite. With illustrations by Barbara Gibson that capture the warmth and beauty of the original artwork, toddlers now share in the benefits from Mrs. Raccoon’s secret for making a child feel safe and secure

  • Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me - Every morning, I play a game with my father.He goes knock knock on my doorand I pretend to be asleeptill he gets right next to the bed.And my papa, he tells me, “I love you.” But what happens when, one day, that “knock knock” doesn’t come? This powerful and inspiring book shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind, and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams.

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Mango Moon
Written by Diane De Anda & illustrated by Sue Cornelison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When a father is taken away from his family and facing deportation, his family is left to grieve and wonder about what comes next. Maricela, Manuel, and their mother face the many challenges of having their lives completely changed by the absence of their father and husband. Moving to a new house, missed soccer games and birthday parties, and emptiness are now the day-to-day norm. Mango Moon shows what life is like from a child’s perspective when a parent is deported, and the heartbreaking realities they have to face, but Maricela learns that her love for her father is sustained even though he is no longer part of her daily life.

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Paper Planes
Written by Jim Helmore & illustrated by Richard Jones
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A compassionate and lyrical story of staying in touch after a friend has moved away.

Mia and Ben are the very best of friends. They live side by side at the edge of a great, wide lake. Together they sail, swing, and sing. But what they love doing most of all is making paper planes. They dream of one day being able to make a plane that can fly all the way across the lake! But Ben has terrible news: he and his family are moving far away. How are Mia and Ben going to stay best friends if they’re going to be so far apart? And will flying paper planes ever be the same again without Ben?

From the author and illustrator team who gave readers The Snow Lion, gorgeous illustrations accompany a gentle story about long-distance friendship that is filled with magic and imagination.

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Gittel's Journey
Written by Leslea Newman & illustrated by Amy June Bates
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Gittel and her mother were supposed to immigrate to America together, but when her mother is stopped by the health inspector, Gittel must make the journey alone. Her mother writes her cousin’s address in New York on a piece of paper. However, when Gittel arrives at Ellis Island, she discovers the ink has run and the address is illegible! How will she find her family? Both a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story, Gittel’s Journey offers a fresh perspective on the immigration journey to Ellis Island. The book includes an author’s note explaining how Gittel’s story is based on the journey to America taken by Lesléa Newman’s grandmother and family friend.

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Mama’s Nightingale
Written by Edwidge Danticat & illustrated by Leslie Staub
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A touching tale of parent-child separation and immigration, from a National Book Award finalist

After Saya’s mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother’s warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she’s in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore on cassette tape. Moved by her mother’s tales and her father’s attempts to reunite their family, Saya writes a story of her own—one that just might bring her mother home for good.

With stirring illustrations, this tender tale shows the human side of immigration and imprisonment—and shows how every child has the power to make a difference.

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Coming on Home Soon
Written by Jacqueline Woodson & illustrated by E.B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Ada Ruth’s mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It’s war time, and women are needed to fill the men’s jobs. As winter sets in, Ada Ruth and her grandma keep up their daily routine, missing Mama all the time. They find strength in each other, and a stray kitten even arrives one day to keep them company, but nothing can fill the hole Mama left. Every day they wait, watching for the letter that says Mama will be coming on home soon. Set during World War II, Coming On Home Soon has a timeless quality that will appeal to all who wait and hope.

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  • A Tale of Two Sloths - Peter and Ernesto are sloths. Peter and Ernesto are friends. But Peter and Ernesto are nothing alike. Peter loves their tree and never wants to leave, while Ernesto loves the sky and wants to see it from every place on Earth. When Ernesto leaves to have a grand adventure, Peter stays behind and frets. The two friends grow even closer in separation, as Peter the homebody expands his horizons and Ernesto the wanderer learns the value of home. With ridiculously cute art and simple, funny text, their reunion is even more adorable than you are imagining.

  • Piper Green and the Fairy Tree - From award-winning author Ellen Potter comes a charming new chapter book series where kids, lobster boats, and a hint of magic are part of everyday life.

  • I Don't Want to Go to School! - The new Big Little Talks series offers unique call-and-response stories: kids vocalize their frustrations and fears, and an omnipresent grown-up offers reassuring messages to ease their concerns. Written by experts in the field, this is a must-have series to help kids.The first three books are I Want Everything!, Oh, Brother! and I Don't Want to Go to School! Going to school can be a really big deal to a little kid. New routine, new friends, new places, and new faces can be a lot to handle at first! It's hard for kids to handle that transition and see that school might be fun and that their parent will always come back. This sensitive book will help kid and parents talk about this big step and transition to being apart during the day--and maybe even have fun at school! Includes a Reader's Note to further explain this common behavioral and emotional stage of childhood.

  • Son - They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice. Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

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Dinosaurs Divorce!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

This timely, reassuring picture book is the perfect resource to help young children and their families deal with the confusion, misconceptions, and anxieties apt to arise when divorce occurs.

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Year of the Jungle
Written by Suzanne Collins & illustrated by James Proimos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Collins has created a deeply moving autobiographical picture book about a father who must go off to the war in Vietnam – and the daughter who stays behind.When young Suzy’s father leaves for Vietnam, she struggles to understand what this means for her and her family. What is the jungle like? Will her father be safe? When will he return? The months slip by, marked by the passing of the familiar holidays and the postcards that her father sends. With each one, he feels more and more distant, until Suzy isn’t sure she’d even recognize her father anymore.This heartfelt and accessible picture book by Suzanne Collins, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hunger Games series, is accompanied by James Proimos’s sweet and charming illustrations. This picture book will speak to any child who has had to spend time away from a parent.

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Stars Above Us
Written by Geoffrey Norman & illustrated by E. B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A little girl and her soldier father find a way to be close even when he?s away at war

Amanda is scared of the dark. But her dad can fix that. He shows Amanda all the wonderful things that live in the dark, like fireflies, crickets, and stars. And when her father has to go away, he even puts glowing paper stars on Amanda?s bedroom ceiling, so she can look at their special star while he?s away and know he?s on the other side of the world looking at it too, and thinking of her.

Stars Above Us is an affecting, beautifully illustrated narrative tailor-made for children who?ve ever lived without a parent.

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