My mom friend Sarah Perry heads up The Second Step, a non-profit in Newton that provides comprehensive support services to survivors of domestic violence. She reminded me that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.
I don’t think about Domestic Violence much but when I researched books for kids on this topic, the titles alone broke my heart. And when I went looking for them at the library, my entire list was not on the shelves. Strange, huh?
I’m glad that there is a month every year that raises awareness about domestic violence because it’s under my radar in my day-to-day life. Luckily, there are brave souls out there who fight on behalf of victims of domestic violence.
One such standout is actor Patrick Steward. I knew him from my obsession years ago with Star Trek: The Next Generation where he played Captain Jean Luc Picard. Watch this video below in which he answers a question from a brave soul about violence against women and what matters most to Patrick Steward.
Patrick Steward and Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Books for Kids
It’s a difficult subject to read about domestic violence in children’s literature. It’s important, though, for kids who experience fear from their parents or step-parents fighting to be able to talk about it. I hope this list helps kids who need these kinds of books. Can you please help me add to this list? Thank you!
Picture Books for Kids About Domestic Violence from Different Perspectives
When They Fight by Kathyrn White, illustrated by Cliff Wright
A small badger is frightened when his parents fight. Using poetic language, this picture book can help facilitate a discussion with a child and reassure him or her about relationships within a family. The beautiful watercolor illustrations combine monotone “scary” images against a color inset to show how little badger is feeling inside. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
When they fight,
the world shakes.
The house quakes.
and beat on the door.
Clover’s Secret by Christine Winn & David Walsh, illustrated by Christine Winn
In an imaginary land where people can fly, two girls form a friendship that helps one of them deal with the problems she faces at home. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Daddy is a Monster … Sometimes by John Steptoe
Daddy has a way of turning into a scary monster when Bweela and her younger brother Javaka are messy, noisy, or annoying. And daddy says, “… Well, I’m probably a monster daddy when I got monster kids.”
This could be a good jumping-off book for kids as the story is warmly affectionate about how kids sometimes feel about their dad when he is threatening to spank them. This is also a multicultural book showing an African American single-parent family. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
I Don’t Want to Go To Justin’s House Anymore by Heather Klassen, illustrated by Beth Jepson
Collin doesn’t want to go to his best friend Justin’s house anymore because since Justin’s dad lost his job, he’s not very nice to Justin. Collin’s mom makes him go anyway. As they are playing, they get hot.
“I’m hot,” says Justin. He stands up and pulls his sweater off over his head. That makes his T-shirt go up too. I see a big black-and-purple bruise on his back.
Heartbreaking, isn’t it? The story ends with Justin being picked up early after witnessing more violence. This time, he is able to explain what is happening to his mom who calls to get Justin’s family help. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
A Safe Place by Maxine Trottier
A mother escapes to a domestic violence shelter with her young daughter, where she builds up her strength and gains the courage to begin a new life. As they leave, the little girl gives hope to a frightened boy just entering the shelter. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Mommy’s Black Eye by William Bentrim
Thank you to This Kid Reviews Books for his interview with William Bentrim where I found this book. [picture book, ages 8 and up]
Mr. Bentrim – I got an email last week from a Girl Scout leader in Tennessee who thanked me for writing Mommy’s Black Eye and for the domestic violence resources on my web site. Her girls are preparing for October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Two Outstanding Middle Grade Books for Kids with Domestic Violence Themes
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Carley becomes a foster child with the Murphy family after suffering from a severe attack by her stepdad that leaves her mother still recuperating in the hospital. Despite reservations on both Carley’s part and the Murphy father, her short stay with her foster family changes everyone. She experiences a loving, stable family life that she’s never known. This is a book that you can’t put down. It will you cry but you will want to reread it immediately. It might even inspire you to become a foster parent one day! [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Catch Rider by Jennifer H. Lyne
Fourteen-year-old Sid’s life is upside down after her father Jimmy dies in a car accident. She hates her mom’s new boyfriend. Her life is all about horses, just like her dad’s had been. After her mom’s boyfriend hits her, she moves in with her Uncle Wayne. He has the same gift as her father to evaluate, break, and train a horse. Her dream is to become a catch rider, a show rider who can ride anything for any kind of competition. And if they can make money off the new horse Uncle Wayne bought, maybe this is the ticket to getting her mom away from that boyfriend. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.
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p.s. Related posts:
Book Lists for Difficult Situations
These book lists are for those difficult situations that come up when you want to talk to kids about something but don’t know where to start:
- Afraid of the Dark
- Best Friend Moves Away
- Birds and Bees Talk
- Domestic Violence
- Foster Care
- Grief and Loss
- Inappropriate Touch
- Incarcerated Parents
- Living in Alcoholic Home
- Loss of Pet
- Racism and White Fragility
Are you looking for something different? I indexed and cross referenced my 300+ book lists: List of Lists: All My Book Lists.
Book Lists for Difficult Situations
Antiracist Books for Kids, Teens, and Adults
9/11 #NeverForget Books for Kids
White Fragility Books for Kids
A Unit to Teach Kids About Microaggressions
A Unit on Skin Color: Picture Books & Videos
Top Children’s Books to Help You Address the Diversity of Human Race
Understanding Poverty: A Book List for Ages 4-11
Homelessness in Children’s Books
11 Chapter Books About Grief and Loss
Death and Loss in Middle Grade Literature
Foster Care in Tween Books
Birds and the Bees Talk Books for Kids
10 Books Featuring Kids with Incarcerated Parents
Best Friend Moves Away Picture Books
Top 10: Afraid of the Dark Picture Books
Keeping Kids Safe from Inappropriate Touch
New Picture Books to Teach Consent
Living in an Alcoholic Home Books for Kids
Domestic Violence Awareness Books for Kids
Top 10: Best Books for Kids that Deal with Bullies
Top 10: Multicultural Picture Books on Bullying
Top 10: Coping with Loss of Pets Books for Kids
Books About Cancer for Kids and Teens
Picture Books About Anxiety for Kids Who Worry
Picture Books About Children and War
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
22 thoughts on “Domestic Violence Books for Kids”
Particularly impressed with When They Fight…it is really difficult to bring a subject like this down to the level of very young children, but it sounds like this book accomplishes that aim.
When They Fight is perfect for preschoolers and younger kids and I liked how it was animals instead of people. I think that would make it easier for kids to relate to and not feel scared about talking about the topic of parents fighting and how they feel (let alone if they get hurt).
This is such an important list – thank you for compiling it. One for the Murphys is a fantastic middle grade title – so glad you included it here. Another picture book that could be added to your list: The Magic Beads written by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund It deals with a little girl and her mother who are living in a shelter.
Thanks so much for your great recommendation. I’ll add it to the list.
What an important topic for a children’s book. So important yet difficult to address. Great list, Mia.
Thanks so much Erica,
Such a sad topic and the book titles were sad too but it’s an important topic and I’m glad to bring awareness to Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And hopefully these books will help kids who need them.
I feel so blessed that neither me nor my husband were raised in the homes plagued with domestic violence. Having a stable and loving family is a true gift, and books like these on your list help us appreciate this gift.
I agree and my heart breaks for anyone who is a victim of domestic violence.
That “Murphy” book sounds good. I’ll try to find it. 🙂
My 6th grader and 8th grader both loved it. I think you will too! Let me know!
Heartbreaking. The video was amazingly moving too.
Isn’t Patrick Stewart amazing? Glad you liked the video on such a sad topic.
Such an important topic. Thank you for putting this list together!
I hope these books find their way into the right hands of kids who need them. Though the thought of kids who need them breaks my heart.
Domestic violence is hard topic of discussion as I faced the same problem in my childhood (excuse me, but I won’t tell you more about that). The most difficult thing is that children get psychological damage, which can sometimes lead to anything from taciturnity to escapes from home. You gave me a very nice idea, and I think I’m going to write my review of such books also, but when I’ll dive into it more. Thanks…
Hi Maria G.,
I look forward to your review and please let me know when it’s up and I’ll link back to this post.
All schools should have a list like this if they discover children who are suffering under domestic violence. It’s upsetting to think of any child damaged psychologically and/or physically but it’s good to see that there are authors trying to help them – and lists like this then made available.
My heart breaks for the child and the teacher who may be the confidant of the child in his or her classroom. But hopefully, if the child in need gets the right book, it will help. I’m grateful for these books that address domestic violence from different angles and for different ages.
Oh, this must have been a hard list to put together. I know these books are important for some kids, though. Thanks for sharing it with us at After School.
It was sad that there are very few books at my public library and difficult to find.
Thank you for this timely post. I am frequently asked about books just as these. (I’ve also been on the hunt to find one that discusses human trafficking.) Now, I am a resource I can share with others. Perfect!
It’s sad that these books are hard to find and many are no longer in print. I’ll work on a list of human trafficking for you as well (though I am very slow!).