Talking With Your Kids

Chances are if you are looking at this, you have had much to absorb yourself about your diagnosis, treatment, and how to cope with it. AND you need to know how to talk with your kids.

We’ve pulled together some resources that may help you. Most of the information is free and is shipped free of charge from the provider or can be downloaded. If you go to the websites, it is very easy to click and preview the materials. We will order some of these to have on hand, but you can also order them directly.




  • Good book for young kids that often opens the way for conversation: Nowhere Hair by Sue Gladner ($16; available on Amazon.com)

  • CancerCare has free booklets and good advice
    Go to http://www.cancercare.org/tagged/childrenor call 1-800-813-4673


Information from your American Cancer Society

Websites: http://www.cancer.org andHelpingChildrenWhenaFamilyMemberHasCancer/index

These materials may be ordered 24/7 from our toll-free number, 1-800-227-2345.

  • After Diagnosis: A Guide for Patients and Families (also available in Spanish)

  • A Message of Hope: Coping with Cancer in Everyday Life (also available in Spanish)

  • Anxiety, Fear, and Depression (also available in Spanish) – pdf download

  • It Helps to Have Friends When Mom or Dad Has Cancer (booklet for elementary school children)

  • Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Diagnosis (also available in Spanish)

  • Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Treatment (also available in Spanish)

  • Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Recurrence or Progressive Illness

  • Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With a Parent’s Terminal Illness

  • Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: When a Child Has Lost a Parent


Books from your American Cancer Society

The following books are available from the American Cancer Society. Call us to ask about costs or to place your order. The books for children are intended to be read to and discussed with the younger children in the age range.

  • Cancer in the Family: Helping Children Cope With a Parent’s Illness (for adults)

  • Because…Someone I Love Has Cancer: Kids’ Activity Book. (best for ages 5 to 10)

  • Let My Colors Out (best for ages 4 to 8)

  • Nana, What’s Cancer (ages 5 to 12)

  • Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo – tells a story about a young mother’s journey through breast cancer (ages 2-5)

  • Our Mom Has Cancer – helps children understand and cope with a parent’s cancer (best for ages 5 to 12)

  • Our Dad is Getting Better (best for ages 5 to 12) -helps children understand a parent’s special needs when recovering from active treatment

  • Our Mom is Getting Better (best for ages 5 to 12) – helps children understand a parent’s special needs when recovering from active treatment Couples Confronting Cancer: Keeping Your Relationship Strong (for adults)

  • Caregiving: A Step-By-Step Resource for Caring for the Person With Cancer at Home (for adults)


National organizations and Web sites*

For children and teens who have a parent with cancer:

  • Cancer Really Sucks â€¨Web site: www.cancerreallysucks.org

    An internet-only resource designed for teens by teens who have loved ones facing cancer

  • Cancercare for Kids â€¨Toll-free number: 1-800-813-4673
Web site:www.cancercareforkids.org
    Online support program is offered for teens with a parent, sibling, or other family member who has cancer. The toll-free number is also for anyone who has cancer or who has a loved one with cancer.

  • Kids Konnected â€¨Toll-free number: 1-800-899-2866 (If you get voicemail, leave message to get a call back.)
Web site:www.kidskonnected.org
    For children and teens who have a parent with cancer and for those who have lost a parent to cancer

  • Kidscope
 Telephone: 404-892-1437 (voicemail is only checked once per week)
Web site: www.kidscope.org
    Has special online materials, a downloadable comic book for children about chemotherapy (Kemo Shark) and a video for kids about a mom with breast cancer

  • National Cancer Institute â€¨Toll-free number: 1-800-422-6237
Web site: www.cancer.gov
    To learn more about cancer, or to get special information for teens; you can call to order a special booklet for teens whose parents have cancer or read it online at: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/when-your-parent-has-cancer-guide-for-teens

  • The Dougy Center
Toll-free number: 1-866-775-5683
Web site:www.dougy.org
    Information on grieving children, teens, and adults. Referrals to programs across the country and internationally that serve grieving children, teens, and their families


Other publications*

Books for adults

  • Can I Still Kiss You? Answering Your Children’s Questions About Cancer by Neil Russell. Published by HCI, 2001

  • Helping Your Children Cope With Your Cancer: A Guide for Parents by Peter Van Dernoot and Madelyn Case. Published by Hatherleigh Press, 2002

  • How to Help Children Through a Parent’s Serious Illness by Kathleen McCue and Ron Bonn. Published by St. Martin’s Press, 1996

  • Life and Loss: A Guide to Help Grieving Children by Linda Goldman. Published by Taylor and Francis Group, 2nd Edition, 1999

  • When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children by Wendy S. Harpham. Published by HarperCollins, Publishers, 2001

Books for and other publications for children and teens

Although these books are intended for children, younger kids are helped more when an adult reads with and helps the child reflect about what different parts of the book mean to the child.

  • Becky and the Worry Cup, by Wendy Harpham. Published by HarperCollins, 1997. Best for ages 5 to 10. (Sold with When a Parent Has Cancer, by the same author.)

  • Facing change: Coming Together and Falling Apart in the Teen Years. Compassion Press, 2004. Best for teens.

  • Fire in My Heart: Ice in My Veins by Enid Samuel-Traisman 2003. Published by Centering Corporation. Best for teens.

  • I know I Made It Happen by Lynn Bennett Blackburn. 2003. Published by Centering Corporation. Best for ages 6 to 12.

  • In Mommy’s Garden: A Book to Help Explain Cancer to Young Children by Neyal J. Ammary. Published by Canyon Beach Visual Communications, 2004. Best for very young children. Also available in Spanish. (This book may be hard to find but is available from some online sources.)

  • Lost and Found: A Kid’s Book for Living Through Loss by Marc Gellman and Debbie Tilley. Published by HarperCollins, 1999. Best for ages 9 to 12.

  • My Mommy Has Cancer by Carolyn S. Parkinson. Published by Solace Publishers, 1991. Best for ages 4 to 7.
  • Sammy’s Mommy Has Cancer (Books to Help Children) by Sherry Kohlenberg, Published by Gareth Stevens Publishers, 1994. Best for ages 4 to 7.

  • The Paper Chain by Claire Blake, Eliza Blanchard, and Kathy Parkinson. Published by Health Press, 1998. Best for ages 4 to 9.

  • The Year My Mother Was Bald by Ann Speltz and Kate Sternberg. Published by American Psychological Association, 2002. Best for ages 9 to 12.

  • Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-Tankerous Mommy by Amelia Frahm. Published by Hutchinson, Nutcracker Publishing Company, 2001. Best for ages 4 to 7.

  • Vanishing Cookies: Doing OK When a Parent Has Cancer by Michelle B. Goodman. Published by Michelle B. Goodman, 1991. Best for ages 9 to 12. (Check libraries and treatment center reading rooms; it can be hard to find a copy for sale.)


Videos for children and adults

  • We Can Cope: Helping Parents Help Children When a Parent Has Cancer. DVD has sections for teens, younger children, and parents, as well as a guidebook on how to use it. Check your cancer treatment center library or call Inflexxion at 1-800-848-3895, extension 276 (try extension 201 if no response from 276) to find out how to buy it. (Cost is $99.95 so you may want to try to borrow it or buy a used copy.)

  • Kids Tell Kids What it’s Like When Their Mother or Father Has Cancer. Children talk about coping with their parents’ cancer; best watched as a family, to help kids and parents talk about cancer’s effects in their lives. Check your cancer center treatment library or buy DVD from www.cancervive.org(cost: $40.00 new).

*Inclusion on these lists does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.

No matter who you are, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night, for information and support. 
Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.