Picture Books about Illness & Hospitals

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Inspire empathy and understanding for anyone coping with illness.

Serious or sudden illness can be a scary issue to deal with at any age. Yet caring for and reaching out to those who are sick is an essential lesson in compassion, even for very young children. Whether you are caring for a loved one or volunteering to provide comfort, this collection of picture books will help your whole family get started.


Talk about the issue.

  • Was there a time when you weren’t feeling well and someone did something nice for you? How did it feel?

  • Do you remember ever being sick for a long time? How would it feel to be sick for weeks, months or even years?

  • What makes you feel better when you’re sick?

  • Do you know anyone who is sick and could use some assistance or cheering up? What could we do for that person?

  • Sometimes it can make us uncomfortable to be around a sick person or visit a hospital. Why do you think that is? What can we do to change that feeling?

  • Have you or someone you loved had to spend many days at the hospital? How did it make you feel? Or How do you think you would feel?

  • What kinds of things would make this easier for families?

Make time to discuss the books you read and the service projects you do together. By talking intentionally and openly about complicated ideas, you are giving your child the opportunity to strengthen their compassion, problem-solving, and empathy muscles.
— Sarah Aadland, Doing Good Together
Print DGT’s reflection guide when you volunteer to  help people coping with illness.  Also,  click here  for our complete list of reflection guides.

Print DGT’s reflection guide when you volunteer to help people coping with illness. Also, click here for our complete list of reflection guides.


Featured Title

The Lemonade Club  by Patricia Polacco
When a young girl discovers she has leukemia, she and her friends learn how to make the best out of sour lemons.


More DGT Favorites

Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson
These simple, rhyming stories cover topics from gratitude to fear to friendship.

Big Tree is Sick: A Story to Help Children Cope with the Serious Illness of a Loved One by Nathalie Slosse
Though designed to help children cope with the illness of a loved one, all children can learn something how to help others from this simple, sweet story.

Curious George Goes to the Hospital by H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey
This tale, about a monkey who needs an operation because he ate a puzzle piece, can help ease tensions about going to the hospital.

Franklin Goes to the Hospital by Paulette Bourgeois
Franklin’s visit to the hospital to repair a cracked shell can introduce young children to all aspects of a hospital stay.

My Trip to the Hospital by Mercer Mayer
Little Critter must go to the hospital for the first time when he breaks his leg during a soccer game.

The Surgery Book: For Kids by Shivana Bhatia, MD
Iggy has to get his tonsils taken out.  What could otherwise be a scary experience for a young boy turns into a fun-filled time.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip Stead
The animals in the zoo miss their caretaker and friend when he stays home sick. They return the favor, taking care of Amos in a simple, captivating story sure to become a family favorite. 

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
A young Hiroshima girl in the 1940s is sick with leukemia from atom bomb radiation. Legend says that if she folds a thousand paper cranes she’ll get healthy; she decides to try. A true story of courage. Ages 8 to 12.

When Molly Was in the Hospital by Debbie Duncan
A story about a girl whose younger sister is ill. This book brings up many issues and fears that siblings may have about their experience with a sick family member.

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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.