Absent Parents

When parents work away from home or live apart it can be confusing and worrying for young children.  Sharing stories about similar situations can put a child’s mind at ease and make transitions and new experiences easier to cope with and more understandable.

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My Mum Goes to Work – Kes Gray and David Milgrim

This book reassures both parent and child that all is well when a parent goes to work, an issue that faces many working parents.
Age: 3+

Ella on the Outside – Cath Howe

Ella has a secret – her father is in prison and she does not want anybody at her new school to find out.
Age 10+

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Leon and Bob – Simon James

The move to a new home leaves Leon feeling a little lonely, especially as his father works away from home.
He copes by having an imaginary friend, Bob, until a new boy moves in next door.
Age: 4+

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My Daddy’s Going Away – Christopher MacGregor and Emma Yarlett

A useful book for any child suffering the temporary absence of their father.
Age: 4+

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Molly and her Dad – Jan Ormerod and Carol Thompson

Molly hasn’t seen her dad for ages. Is she like him? A positive, light hearted story that captures Molly’s anxieties well. Lively vibrant illustrations with good use of speech bubbles.
Age: 5+

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Come Home Soon – Pat Thomas

Explores the idea of a parent working away from home in the armed forces. May help young children learn how to deal with changes at home, feeling worried, keeping in touch and looking forward to their parent’s return.
Age: 5+

My Dad’s in Prison – Jackie Walter

Story of a little boy who visits his father in prison. It is written in association with Storybook Dads.
Age 5+

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When Dad Was Away – Liz Weir and Karin Littlewood

When Mum tells Milly that Dad has been sent to prison, Milly feels angry and confused. She can’t believe her dad won’t be at home to read her stories and make her laugh. But soon Mum takes Milly and her brother Sam to visit Dad in prison.
Age: 4+

Divorce and Separation

The break down of a family is nearly always a traumatic event for those involved, especially for children. There are many books that present the subject in a postive and sensitive way. Sharing these books may be comforting to children going through similar situations.

Two Nests
by Laurence Anholt and Jim Coplestone

A gentle story about family separation.  When Baby Bird is born the nest starts to feel very small and Betty and Paul squabble.  They decide Paul should live in a different nest and Baby Bird is able to spend time in both his homes.
Age: 3+

There For You
by Annette Aubrey

Mum and Dad explain to a young boy why they are separating, offering lots of reassurance to allay worries and fears.
Age: 3+

Two of Everything
by Babette Cole

Irreverent look at divorce with the underlying message that divorce is preferable to living with unhappy parents. This is not a serious examination of the issue!
Age: 7+

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I don’t want Danny here
by Elizabeth Dale

Izzy doesn’t like Danny. And Danny will be coming to live with them after his mum marries her dad. When Danny comes for a sleepover, things are very strained. Then Izzy starts to see things from Danny’s point of view, and their relationship begins to change.
Age: 6+

Mum and Dad Glue
by Kes Gray

A little boy tries to find a pot of glue that will stick his parents’ smiles back on and make their marriage better.  He learns that even though his Mum and Dad’s relationship may be broken, their love for him is not.
Age: 4+

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A New Room for William
by Sally Grindley and Carol Thompson

A reassuring story about a new home with Mum after the parents’ separation and about making a new friend.
Age: 4+

Grace & Family
by Mary Hoffman

Heart warming story about a young girl learning to live with two families, one in Britain and one in Africa, after her parents divorce. Beautifully illustrated.
Age: 5+

Every Second Friday
by Kiri Lightfoot and Ben Galbraith

A brother and sister spend alternate weekends with their father. A story about belonging in two places.
Age: 4+

Two Homes
by Claire Masurel

A positive and encouraging look at the advantages, rather than disadvantages, of two homes. Told from the child’s view point.
Age: 3+

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Living with Mum and Living with Dad: My Two Homes
by Melanie Walsh

A simple lift-the-flap book which is reassuring for very young children.
Age: 3+

Useful Organisation

Care for the family:
Support and information for families.

Family action:
Transforms lives by providing practical, emotional and financial support to those who are experiencing poverty, disadvantage and social isolation across the country.

Family Lives:
A national charity providing help and support in all aspects of family life.

Works nationally and locally for and with single parents to improve their lives

Books About Families to Share from Bookstart Bear

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Baby Bookstart Bear reading a book

For most of us, our family is the one big constant in our lives.  They provide a safe place for us to learn and grow in a loving environment.  But families come in all shapes and sizes.  Our family may be very different to those of our friends.  Even our own family doesn’t always stay the same.

The following books are just a few suggestions that introduce young children to the diversity of family life.  You will find lots more in your local library.  If you can’t find what you are looking for, ask a member of staff.  If they don’t have something suitable on the shelves, they can always request something for you.

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Baby Baby blah blah blah! – Jonathan Shipton & Francesca Chessa

Emily’s mum is expecting twins and Emily makes a list of good and bad things about babies so the family can talk about what life will be like after the twins are born.
Age: 3+

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Don’t let the Aliens get my Marvellous MUM! – Gillian Shields & Liz Pichon

This little girl can’t imagine what her life would be like if her mum wasn’t there to do all those wonderful things that mums do!  An out of this world book with simple text and bright illustrations.
Age: 3+

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Ella Moves House – Angela Hassall & Caroline Ewen

Simple story of Ella whose Mum has a new partner. They are all moving in together, but Ella isn’t happy about this until Jo saves the day and rescues the situation.
Age: 5+

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Families, Families, Families! – Suzanne Lang & Max Lang

This book introduces a whole host of silly animal families, who all carry the same message. It doesn’t matter how your family is made up – if you love each other, then you are a family.
Age: 3+
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Flora’s Family – Annette Aubrey & Patrice Barton

This book uses a simple rhyming text.  Flora finds out she is adopted and her parents explain what that means. Useful notes for parents and carers at the back.
Age: 4+

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My Mum Goes to Work – Kes Gray & David Milgrim

A child’s perspective on how much a working mum misses him, and how she makes up for it when they are together.
Age: 3+

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My Two Grannies – Floella Benjamin & Margaret Chamberlain

Two Grannies, two cultures, but only one grandchild.  The competing Grandmas learn to celebrate their differences through their shared love for their granddaughter.
Age: 4+

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Silly Baby – Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

When all the family fusses over the new baby, Beth feels excluded but Gran spots the problem and helps her change her mind.
Age: 2+

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The Great Big Book of Families – Mary Hoffman & Ros Asquith

A fresh, optimistic look at contemporary family life.  Drawing on the huge diversity of families, this book highlights their similarities as well as their differences.  Featuring homes, jobs, holidays and much more.
Age: 5+

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When Daddy’s Truck Picks Me Up – Jana Novotny Hunter

A bouncy, rhyming and exuberant story about Dad’s anticipated arrival at preschool having been working away.
Age: 3+

The Drowning Girl by Margaret Leroy

About the book

Young single mum Grace is drowning.

Her little girl Sylvie is distant, troubled and prone to violent tantrums which the child psychiatrists blame on Grace. But Grace knows there’s something more to what’s happening to Sylvie. There has to be.

Travelling from the London suburbs to the west coast of Ireland, Grace and Sylvie embark on a journey of shocking discovery, forcing Grace to question everything she believes in and changing both their lives forever.

Reviewed by Denmead Book Club

“Fascinating book / really enjoyed the read / strange ending”

star rating ***

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