Best Children’s Books About Addiction and Recovery
Many parents and counselors use children’s books to explain addiction. Substance use is a big problem facing communities all over the United States, and it’s important to protect not just ourselves but our children as well. After all, when our kids grow up, they’re also going to be faced with the temptation of substance use and the threat it can cause if they use illicit drugs or overuse or misuse substances like alcohol and prescription medications.
There are many ways to teach kids about drug addiction, recovery, and even the harmful effects that drugs can have. From the PSAs and anti-drug video games of the 80s and 90s to the modern in-school education campaigns to teach kids to stay safe and say no, there is no shortage of ways adults can pass the message to our children. However, if you have a person who is struggling with substance use disorder in your life, you’ll need a more personal way to talk about substances with your kids.
Why Use Books to Discuss Addiction Recovery?
Books are a great tool to get children to learn about addiction and recovery because they avoid many pitfalls associated with other forms of anti-drug education tactics. They’re also in a format that’s easy for parents to use privately at home.
The other benefits of using books include:
- The ability to filter based on age – Some of these books are suitable for slightly older audiences, while others are designed for younger kids. Parents can control which books they read to their kids and avoid dealing with anything that isn’t age appropriate.
- Less graphic – Anti-drug commercials are infamous for their shocking imagery, which were more likely to scare kids than teach them anything about drugs. These books handle the subject without the need to include frightening visuals, helping them have a more significant impact.
- Helps explain serious topics – Substance use disorder is something kids will have to learn about at one point or another, but that doesn’t make the subject any less heavy. For parents, especially parents who have a history of suffering from a substance use disorder of their own, these books can be a good way to introduce children to the topic and guide the conversation.
- Relatable characters – Another benefit of using books to explain addiction to children is that these books are full of characters kids can root for and sympathize with. Seeing the impacts of SUD on a character your child likes can help the message sink in while still allowing the story to remain on the lighter and more positive side. Whether these characters are kids like them, critters, or anything in between, having characters who go through relatable scenarios can be a great way to teach children about these issues.
In general, books are a great way to introduce these deeper, more realistic themes to kids while still controlling the conversation and ensuring that they don’t learn about topics they can’t handle yet. The following books are all written specifically to help children understand more about addiction and anything related to it. There are many children’s books focused on explaining addiction and recovery, and here’s a look at several of our favorites.
Addiction Books With Animals and Creatures
One benefit to using books is that younger children can learn about addiction through stories about cute animals suffering from addictions to things like candy, plants, and more. By focusing on these metaphors, kids are able to understand complex themes without the horror of seeing this illness affect kids like them.
There are many books that fit into this category, and we’ve chosen a few of them to highlight. From fantasy monsters to cute rabbit children, teach your children more about addiction with these fun and inspiring books.
Critters Cry Too: Explaining Addiction to Children
Stoney the Pony’s Most Inspiring Year: Teaching Children About Addiction Through Metaphor
The other characters are worried as Stoney’s behavior changes while he pursues his craving, even breaking into a barn to steal some of the candies from others. Of course, through the help and love of his friends and family who step in when they realize he’s sick, Stoney is set on the path to recovery.
Zeeko: The Bunny Who Lost His Way
Kids will relate to Zeeko as they see the sweet young rabbit go in the wrong direction and make the wrong choices, as well as when they see him get the help he needs through loving intervention.
Fresh Fables: The Dragon Who Lives at Our House
Addiction Books About Children and Their Parents
Many kids don’t just experience the realities of substance use disorder in their communities or friend groups. An unfortunate reality is that a lot of children are growing up with a parent who struggles with the condition, which not only impacts how they see their parents but how their parent acts and treats them. For these kids, understanding more about how addiction can affect their parents can offer some help, not just in having empathy but in understanding that their feelings are valid, they aren’t alone in dealing with this, and that healing and recovery are always possible.
These are very common themes when it comes to kid’s books about addiction, and we’ve selected a few that handle the topic with the weight it deserves while still being kid-friendly and digestible.
Addie’s Mom Isn’t Home Anymore
Additionally, more books exist in the series to follow the story of Addie and her mother as they continue to deal with the addiction. If your children enjoy the series and want to continue to learn more about addiction and recovery, there’s plenty more for them to read!
Daddy Doesn’t Have to Be a Giant Anymore
Timbia Talks About Addiction
Think of the Wind
The Tricky Sticky Addiction Monster
With fun, colorful illustrations and a story that can apply to any child whose parent has an addiction, this book is a great way to teach kids that addictions aren’t anyone’s fault, nor are they the definition of who a person is underneath it all.
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Addiction can be a difficult thing to explain to a child, especially to a young person who may not be able to understand complex or nuanced subjects. Through the use of books, it’s possible to teach kids about what it’s like to live with, suffer from, get help for, or simply witness an addiction. Your kids will learn all the important stuff they need to through stories about fun and relatable characters, from having empathy for anyone suffering to knowing that their own emotions are valid and that anyone, even them, can suffer from an addiction.
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Experienced Chief Executive Addiction Recovery and Mental Health Professional
Business professional in the Addiction Recovery and Mental Health industry for the past 26 years. Caring, compassionate and strongly motivated to make a difference in the organizations I am affiliated with and welfare of the population we serve. Currently focused on advocating, educating and developing projects leveraging evidence based, real time technology to support individuals in recovery.