Suggested Reading

Enjoying good books, whether alone or with a loved one, can help to further understanding, provide comfort and entertainment, and often open the doors of communication on subjects that can be difficult for children of all ages. Parents and professionals can use the books below to begin conversations or help raise awareness of some of the challenges, feelings, and thoughts that often are in the hearts and minds of siblings of all ages who live with a brother or sister with complex medical needs.

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When Your Sibling is Sick

Anna's Special Present

by Yoriko Tsutsui. Anna’s special present is about a girl who hates it when her younger sister, Katy, plays and begs for her favorite doll. But when Katy is sick and needs to go to the hospital, Anna knows just what gift to give her. It’s a sweet story about two siblings, Anna and Katy, fighting over a doll, but when the Katy gets rushed to the hospital, Anna is scared and worried about Katy. Anna comes up with the perfect gift to give her to help her feel better. Ages 4-8.

Benny’s Hat

Juliet Clare Bell. Pomelo Pip DATE A beautiful, sensitively written book that could be used to support and comfort children who have a seriously ill sibling or friend, or have experienced bereavement. Ages 4-10

Hi, My Name is Jack

Christina Beall-Sullivan. Bopar Books, 2000. A wonderful resource and tool to facilitate communication in families with a chronically ill, disabled or dying child. Ages 3-12.

Oliver's Story

Michael Dodd. Candlelighters 2004. Illustrated by Mike Dodd and written through the eyes of his six-year-old son Oliver, this resource focuses on the many questions that siblings have when their brother or sister is diagnosed with cancer, and offers constructive ways on how they can provide support. Ages 3-8.

Special Brothers and Sisters: Stories and Tips for Siblings of Children with Special Needs, Disability or Serious Illness

by Annette Hames and Monica McCaffrey. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2005. A collection of real-life accounts from the brothers and sisters of children with special needs, disability or serious illness, ranging in age from 3 to 18 years. They explain, in their own words, what it's like to live with their siblings. There is a lot of advice available for parents of a child with a disability or illness, but very little about the important issue of educating their siblings about how they feel, and why they may behave differently from other children. Ages 7-18

The Invisible String

Patrice Karst. 2018. The Invisible String offers a very simple approach to overcoming loneliness, separation, or loss with an imaginative twist that children easily understand and embrace, and delivers a particularly compelling message in today's uncertain times. Ages 4-8.

What About Me? When Brothers and Sisters Get Sick

Allan Peterkin. Magination Press, 1992. This story deals with the many complicated feelings the well sibling experiences when their brother or sister becomes ill, including guilt, fear, anger, anxiety and longing. Ages 4-8.

What About Me?: Well Children With Sick Siblings

Paperback –William G. Bentrim (Author), Christi Schofield (Illustrator). 2010.This book hopes to demonstrate to the healthy child that their feelings are normal, acceptable and guilt is not necessary. The book also hopes to alleviate any of the well child's feelings of alienation and loneliness by reassuring them of their parents love. Ages 4-10

When Molly Was in the Hospital

Debbie Duncan. Rayve Productions Inc., 1994 Children whose siblings have spent time in the hospital may be comforted by a story similar to their own, told from the point of view of young Anna after her sister Molly is hospitalized. Ages 3-8.

When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness - (Drawing Out Feelings)

by Marge Eaton Heegaard. Woodland Press 1996. This book will help families communicate and evaluate a child's understanding and feelings about family change while teaching basic concepts of illness and healthy coping skills. Ages 9-13.

Siblings of children with special needs

Living With a Brother or Sister with Special Needs

by Don Meyer and Patricia Vadasy. University of Washington Press, 1996 This book talks about the “good and not-so-good” parts of having a brother or sister with special needs, and the hard questions some siblings may ask themselves and their parents. Ages 3-8.

The Sibling Slam Book

by Don Meyer. Woodbine House, 2005. Give teenagers a chance to say what's on their minds, and you might be surprised by what you hear. That's exactly what Don Meyer, creator of Sibshops and author of VIEWS FROM OUR SHOES did when he invited together a group of 80 teenagers, from all over the United States and abroad, to talk about what it's like to have a brother or sister with special needs. Ages 13-17.

Views From Our Shoes

by Don Meyer. Woodbine House, 1997. This collection of personal stories is written by 45 siblings ranging in age from 4 to 18. It introduces young siblings to others who have brothers and sisters similar to their own. A glossary of disabilities provides easy-to understand definitions of many conditions. Ages 9-12.


Glad Monster, Sad Monster: A Book About Feelings

by Anne Miranda. LB Kids, 1997. Children who lack the vocabulary to distinguish the emotions they’re feeling may find some comfort in this book, which makes use of masks to unmask feelings. Each spread shows little brightly colored monsters acting out different emotions… pink monsters cut out valentines and bake cookies to express love, yellow monsters play ball and open birthday presents in the name of happiness… while a gatefold page reveals a big mask of whatever emotion is covered in that spread. Ages 4-8.

In My Heart, A Book of Feelings

by Jo Witek. Abrams Appleseed, 2014. Happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness . . . our hearts can feel so many feelings! Some make us feel as light as a balloon, others as heavy as an elephant. In My Heart explores a full range of emotions, describing how they feel physically, inside, with language that is lyrical but also direct to empower readers to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions.

My Many Colored Days

by Dr. Seuss (Ages 4-8) Knopf Books, 1996. Most colors are associated with an animal. Red is a horse kicking up its heels. Brown is a bear, “slow and low.” On a yellow day, “I am a busy, buzzy bee.” On a green day, he’s a “cool and quiet fish.” On a happy pink day, he’s a flamingo! On black days, he becomes a howling wolf. Ages 4-8.

The Way I Feel

by Janan Cain. Parenting Press, 2005. Praised by parents, who say it's especially valuable when getting children to talk about the day's triumphs and troubles, and by professionals, who use it in pediatric clinics. Janan Cain's kids ooze anger and bounce with excitement as they teach the words for emotions. Ages 4-8.

Books for teens

Counting Thyme

by Melanie Conklin. G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016. When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary. Ages 10-14.


by Raina Telgemeier. Graphix, 2016. Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake -- and her own.Ages 8-14.

Grieving for the Sibling You Lost: A Teen's Guide to Coping with Grief and Finding Meaning After Loss

If you’ve lost a sibling, you feel sad, confused, or even angry. For the first time, a psychotherapist specializing in teen and adolescent bereavement offers a compassionate guide to help you discover your unique coping style, deal with overwhelming emotions, and find constructive ways to manage this profound loss so you can move forward in a meaningful and healthy way.


by Cynthia Kadohata. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006. Glittering. That's how Katie Takeshima's sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people's eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare. And it's Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering -- kira-kira -- in the future.Ages 10-16.

Little Women

by Louisa May Alcott. 1868. Little Women follows the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—and details their passage from childhood to womanhood. It is loosely based on the lives of the author and her three sisters. The novel addresses three major themes: domesticity, work, and true love, all of them interdependent and each necessary to the achievement of its heroine's individual identity. Ages 9-14.

Tru Confessions

by Janet Tashijan. Square Fish, 2007. Do wishes really come true? When Trudy Walker sees the ad from the local cable station, she truly believes they do. The station is looking to air demo tapes of shows created by and for teens. This could be Tru's big Break! But lately Tru is distracted by Wish #2. She spends hours researching cures for Eddie online and filming his daily routine. If Tru becomes a star―if she just grows up―will she outgrow Eddie? Can she pursue her dreams and still be true to herself? Or is it all just wishful thinking. Ages 10-14.

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