cancer symbol

22 Soothing Children's Books about Cancer


when a kid like me fights cancer 

One of our favorite, empowering story that will lift a child's spirits. A vibrant little boy learns that he has cancer, but this disease is no match for his fighting spirit and winning attitude. Young readers learn about the disease by following Ben's story. Despite all of the changes in his life, some of the most important things, like friends and family, remain constants in his life.

cancer patient


Kids' Picture Books about Cancer Help the Whole Family

When young children a diagnosed with cancer, their entire worlds and those around them are upended. Until their own diagnosis, the "c" word is just a bad term for a terrible disease that happens to other people. Parents are often ill-equipped to talk to their children, especially when they are grappling with their own emotional rollercoaster, which is probably more like a rapid descent. A  diagnosis is frightening for anyone. But when children or the parents of young children receive a terminal diagnosis, the sadness and fear is overwhelming for their parents and everyone else who loves them. 

Finding the right way to communicate, educate and comfort a child is not always clear. There are so many things to consider when talking to a child. Their age and maturity combined with the severity of the prognosis are all factors to consider. How much information is too much to share? And how much is too little? How to put on a brave face as a parent when living in fear? In the meantime, a child's world will be quickly turned upside down when the calendar fills up with medical appointments, tests, procedures, and treatments. This is when children's books about cancer can provide an opportunity to communicate with a child through the experiences of others.


nowhere hair

Hair loss is one of the most startling physical side effects of chemotherapy. In this bright, upbeat story, a little girl is having a hard time adjusting to her mother's new appearance. However, so soon learns that even though her mother may look a little different, she's the same silly, nurturing, loving parent. This rhyming book covers lots of ground regarding both the physical and emotional changes that happen when a mother is sick.



cancer hates kisses

A recommended book for preschool and young elementary school children. Written by a young mom diagnosed with breast cancer, this book keeps it light and upbeat. Simple text provides encouragement and emphasizes the importance of hugs, kisses and even dance parties as a way to battle the blues.



the lemonade club


Patricia Polacco is a beloved author who pens her books based on experiences from her own childhood. The Lemonade Club is an inspiring story about a little girl who is battling leukemia. Her best friend, as well as her teacher and classmates, rally behind her and prove to be a vital force and support system on her road to recovery. Polacco's books are lengthy stories suitable for the 6+ age group.



 how do you care for a very sick bear

The author of this darling picture book is a childhood leukemia survivor. She was inspired to write this book based on her personal experience with illness as a young girl. This sweet story is about a special friendship between two bears. When one of them gets sick, the other struggles with the right words to say and the what exactly to do. In gentle, rhyming text, little readers are offered guidance on how to care for their own very sick bear.



 mommy has a boo-boo

A tender book for young children whose mothers have breast cancer. It's a certain kind of boo-boo lives inside a mommy's body so young children may experience confusion. The book walks readers through the cycles of treatment, including chemotherapy and surgery, but in the end the cancer is cured. Gentle, uplifting and accessible for preschool and elementary school children.



 the goodbye cancer garden

When Janie learns her mother has cancer, she decides to plant a garden as a way to help her deal with her emotions. Analogies and comparisons are made between the process of gardening and her mother's treatment. She plants seeds, nurtures the soil, and eventually plucks healthy pumpkins. These steps follow the medical journey of her mother until she, too, is restored to good health.



 the year my mother was bald

A very helpful children's cancer book that reads like the journal of a little girl named Clare. Each month of a year details her daily activities and how they change after her mother's diagnosis. She shares a lot of important information about cancer. But more importantly, she details her feelings and emotions which will help readers know they are not alone. Overall, the tone is very positive and gives children an inside look at life with a difficult disease.


 the great katie kate tackles questions about cancer

An imaginary superhero-like character named Katie swoops in to help Suzy understand her recent cancer diagnosis. All of Suzy's fears, personified by the Worry Wombat, are erased when Katie takes her on an informative tour of the hospital and explains how they are going to tackle her illness. Charming illustrations and positive messaging will help improve a young patient's outlook.



my dad has cancer

A cancer story with a happy ending told from the perspective of a nine year old girl. It's a short read with child-like illustrations that will appeal to young readers looking for a story that puts a positive spin on a difficult topic.



 our mom has cancer

This informative book, written by sisters, is a real-life account of their mother's journey. It's a very direct story about breast cancer, experiences with treatments, and the effect is has on the entire family.



can you hear me daddy

Not all real-life cancer stories end with a cure, so it's not always helpful to read books that paint a rosy picture. This is the story of a little girl who is witness to her father's losing battle with the disease. She struggles as she watches him become sicker and weaker with the passing months. She also relies on her faith in God to get her through this difficult time and stay connected to her father once he is gone.



 someone you love has cancer

A valuable book to add to your reading list for older children who are effected by this disease. Told through poetry, this book takes very straightforward, direct, and realistic look at the disease and the many ways it impacts those around us. The purpose is to provide facts in order to facilitate meaningful conversations with your children. An informative glossary is a helpful reference for children who are just learning about this disease.



cancer party

The best authors  are usually those who have struggled with having difficult conversations with their own kids about this topic. When this mom was diagnosed with cancer, she could not find a book that adequately balanced both the science and the emotional components. So she took it upon herself to write this funny, serious, and educational book that really runs the gamut of everything you want to cover with your children.



the puddle jumper's guide to kicking cancer 

This true story about a little girl named Gracie who is battling cancer. While she has a positive, bright outlook on life, she is also very transparent about what is like for her as she fights this disease. Gracie shares the toll her disease has taken on her physically and emotionally. She also shows readers that she is not on this difficult journey alone. She has a mom and dad, as well as an entire community, supporting her every step of the way.



the hare who lost her hair

A very gentle, inspiring book that stays away from cancer specifically, and instead focuses on overcoming adversity. It's a great addition if you are looking to add to your collection, and especially the traumatic experience of losing one's hair in the process of getting treatment. This lengthy story alludes to cancer throughout, so it's really better-suited to complement books that tackle the subject directly.



chemo to the rescue a children's book about leukemia

One of the hardest parts enduring the harsh side effects of chemotherapy. This is especially true for young children who feel more sick from the treatment than ever before. The author of this touching story is the mother to a leukemia survivor. She understands firsthand how kids sometimes rebel during treatment. So she wrote this book to help parents open the dialogue with their own children about the importance of chemotherapy in fighting the illness.



butterfly kisses and wishes on wings

An award-winning cancer book for children that helps parents guide their kids through difficult conversations. This gentle story is told from the perspective of a little boy whose mother was recently diagnosed. He learns all the important terms and how to answer questions other kids ask him. This touching book can be helpful for every child touched by the disease of a loved one.


mama's year with cancer

A little girl sticks by her mother's side during a very difficult year  treatment. Her mother endures chemotherapy, surgeries, and exhaustion. Through it all, the little girl provides love and companionship to her sick mother. At the end of one year, her mother is declared disease free and they ring a bell to celebrate.

i'll say goodbye

A child enjoys her time at the beach with her uncle. Together they search for seashells and play in the ocean. She knows her uncle has cancer, and as time passes, he begins to slow down. Finally their beach trips end altogether and her uncle passes away. Told from the perspective of a little one, this story presents the reality of endings that are often not happy.

warrior a patient's courageous quest

An empowering story about a little girl's battle to beat cancer. She is a warrior who must defeat ferocious beasts, climb to the top of the mountain, and ring the bell to mark her victory. During this epic day, she fails to reach the mountain peak and returns to her hospital bed to re-energize for her next battle.

what if strawberries had no hats


A tender book about cancer that delivers the right message to toddlers and preschoolers. A little strawberry is undergoing cancer treatment and loses her has as a result of the medication. Her friends rally around her in support. Short, uplifting story with colorful pictures provides just enough information for little ones who have questions.


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Valuable Stories About Characters With Cancer 

When a parent, child, or other family member receives a diagnosis, both the physical and emotional toll is overwhelming. Parents can find themselves ill-equipped to talk to their children about the disease and struggle with how much to tell them. That is exactly why a wide variety of kids' books about cancer can be tremendously helpful. Some of these selections are very gentle, upbeat fictional stories that provide limited information about the disease. You should also add some non-fiction options, like those that address hospital visits and other facts about treatment, for kids who may feel better if they are equipped with information and ready to handle the difficult truth.

When families are coping with difficult medical news, it is extremely valuable to seek out ways to cope with the stress, worry, and anxiety that accompanies the physical symptoms of the disease. For instance, finding easy ways build physical movement like yoga and other therapeutic exercises into a schedule can prove to be invaluable. Taking long walks, riding bikes, and swimming are also excellent, non-stressful forms of exercise that can go a long way in helping a child manage the emotions associated with a devastating disease. 

When a child is fighting the diesase, parents also have to consider the emotional wellbeing of siblings. And when cancer is terminal, brothers and sisters experience overwhelming grief over their lost sibling. There are so, so many questions that don't have easy answers. A good place to start is to gather a large, diverse collection of stories read with your child.



Thoughtful Gifts for Children Who Have Cancer

Whether the child is sick or has a close relative or friend suffering with the disease, it is important to give them the love, support, and advice they need to get through this impossibly hard time in life. Here are some of the most tender and thoughtful gifts you can give to a child with cancer. 


compassion blanket

Compassion Blanket

A big, soft, cozy blanket perfect to wrap around a child who is sick. Inspiring words- like Warm Hugs, Healing, Strength, Courage and Compassion- are printed on this blanket. Remind a little one that they have what it takes to get through a most difficult illness with the Compassion Blanket.



 bracelet beautiful girl you can do hard things 

Bracelet: Beautiful Girl, You Can Do Hard Things

This beautiful, cuffed, stainless steel bracelet is adjustable to fit any wrist size. Inspirational words are printed in lovely script on the inside of the bracelet. Little girls need this reminder when having a bad day.



 never give up necklace


Never Give Up

A sterling silver necklace will have special meaning for every little girl fighting cancer. This charming owl, a symbol of wisdom and bravery, has colorful blue and purple accents. A thoughtful, loving gift that she will never take off.


More Recommended Reading for Kids 

Tender Books About a Grandparent Dying

Reassuring Stories About Heaven

Books to Read When a Dog Dies 

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