Books for Parents

Some of the books on this list, and on the following list for children and teens, may not be available at your local public library. To obtain copies, talk to a librarian at your local library about borrowing copies for you from another library in the area or state.

After Cancer: A Guide to Your New Life
by Wendy S. Harpham
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994.

A doctor and cancer survivor, Harpham's reassuring guide addresses the medical, psychological, and practical issues of recovery after treatment.

Cancer in the Family: Helping Children Cope with a Parent's Illness
by Sue P. Heiney, Joan F. Hermann, Katherine V. Bruss, and Joy L. Fincannon
Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2001.

An indispensable guide for parents that includes activities and other "hands-on-tools" for helping children cope. Also includes a special illustrated workbook to help even very young children record their thoughts and feelings.

Cancervive: The Challenge of Life After Cancer
by Susan Nessim and Judith Ellis
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991.

This is one of the first books to address the issues affecting cancer survivors. Copies of the book, which is now out of print, can likely be found in public libraries and cancer resource centers.

Guiding Your Child Through Grief
by Mary Ann Emswiler and James P. Emswiler
New York: Bantam Books, 2000.

Many of the practical suggestions in this book have equal relevance for families dealing with the challenges and changes due to parental illness.

How to Help Children Through a Parent's Serious Illness: Supportive, Practical Advice from a Leading Child Life Specialist
by Kathleen McCue, M.A., C.C.L.S., with Ron Bonn
New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1994.

Excellent resource for both dual-parent and single-parent families.

Moms Don't Get Sick
by Pat Brack with Ben Brack
Aberdeen, SD: Melius Publishing, Inc., 1990.

A powerful personal narrative in which the author and her son describe what it is like for a family to deal with breast cancer.

The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience
by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., with Karen Reivich, Ph.D., Lisa Jaycox, Ph.D., & Jane Gillham, Ph.D. New York, NY: HarperPerennial, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1995.

A practical and highly accessible text that explains step-by-step how to teach children the skills of optimism.

Parenting Through Crisis: Helping Kids in Times of Loss, Grief, and Change
by Barbara Coloroso
New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1974.

Coloroso, the author of Kids Are Worth It!: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline, offers parents concrete suggestions for supporting children during times of upheaval. Although the chapter titled "When Illness Strikes" is geared to families with an ill child, the information and advice it offers has frequent application for parental illness.

35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child
The Dougy Center, Item #546, Phone: 503-775-5683.

A simple and practical guidebook that covers such topics as how to include children in decision making, what to expect from different ages of grieving children, and how to provide safe outlets for children to express emotion.

When Life Becomes Precious
by Elise NeeDell Babcock
New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1997.

See especially, Chapter 9, "How To Support Your Children When Someone They Love Has Cancer: Sharing the News and Helping Them Understand."

When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children
by Wendy S. Harpham
New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.

Includes Becky and the Worry Cup, an illustrated children's book that tells the story of a seven-year-old girl's experiences with her mother's cancer. Also has several helpful appendices, including a glossary of cancer-related medical terms for kids, a list of resources for parents and children, and an annotated bibliography.

When a Parent Is Seriously ILL: Practical Tips for Helping Parents and Children
by Leigh Collins and Courtney Nathan

New Orleans: Jewish Family Service of New Orleans, 2004.

Addresses such common questions as How do I tell my children that I'm sick? How do I take care of them when I'm not feeling well? and How do I figure out how well my children are dealing with my illness, and how can I help them?