How would you explain cancer to a child? It’s a difficult subject for anyone to talk about, but if a child is diagnosed, or someone in their family is living with cancer, you might find yourself dealing with a lot of difficult questions. What is cancer? Why do I have to stay in hospital? Why is someone’s hair falling out? 

One of the best ways for kids to understand new ideas is through reading about them. So we’ve collected together 10 of the best children’s books about cancer – many of them written by people who have been through cancer themselves.

Books for children who have cancer

The Hare Who Lost Her Hair by Amy Leonard

Recommended for: younger children


This storybook follows the story of a brave hare on her journey to overcome illness. Notably, the book doesn’t mention scary cancer-related words. The hare doesn’t “have chemo,” but instead finds a magical healing stream which could help her to get well – with some unexpected side effects. The hare goes on a journey that tests her strength and courage, all accompanied by colourful illustrations. This book is ideal for children at the start of their cancer journey and conveys a positive message of determination and survival.

Hare Who Lost Her Hair

Chemo to the Rescue by Mary Brent and Caitlin Knutsson

Recommended for: younger children


This book focuses specifically on leukaemia. Written by a mother and daughter, the book is based on the daughter’s experiences of leukaemia (after she was diagnosed herself at the age of five). It’s honest without becoming too scary, and answers all the fundamental questions children might have about life with chemotherapy; why blood tests and hospital visits are important, or why hair loss happens. This book is ideal for a child diagnosed with leukaemia, but also for their siblings, friends, and classmates.

Chemo to the Rescue

The Stars Twinkle Brightly by Mary E Fam

Recommended for: older children


Written by author and two-time cancer survivor Mary, this simple storybook follows the story of an 8-year-old boy and his diagnosis. Overall, the message is comforting and positive, as the little boy eventually triumphs over his cancer and gets better. This book has a slightly higher reading age, so it’s perfect for kids just starting to read longer books.

The Stars Twinkle Brightly

The Famous Hat by Kate Gaynor 

Recommended for: younger children


Simple and lighthearted, this story follows a little boy named Harry, who has to stay in the hospital for a while to get treatment for leukaemia. Harry has lots of visits with Dr John, and receives medicine through a tube in his chest. The book has a warm and positive tone, as Harry has fun while staying in the hospital and realises that his hair loss is only temporary. His “famous hat” keeps him smiling through his treatment, and as he leaves hospital he passes it on to one of his friends on the ward for good luck.

The Famous Hat

Explaining cancer to children

Because Someone I Love Has Cancer

Recommended for: younger children


Sometimes worries or questions are too hard to put into words – for grownups as well as children. This colourful activity book is aimed at helping kids aged 6-12 express their feelings and worries about their loved one who has cancer. Encouraging creativity is a great way to help children to recognise and learn about their emotions. And the activities in this book could start some helpful conversations between parents who have cancer and their children. Plus it comes with 5 colourful crayons!

Because Someone I Love


Eek! My Mummy Has Breast Cancer by Emma Sutherland

Recommended for: older children/young teens


Emma was 12 when her mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she struggled to find helpful information that was written for young teens. So, Emma wrote her own book to help other teenagers who had a parent with cancer. The book is heartfelt and practical in equal measure and has a beautifully reassuring tone that helps to normalise the scary emotions that can affect a child whose parent has cancer. For this reason, it’s also an excellent resource for parents with cancer who want to understand how their illness might be affecting their children.

Eek My Mummy Has Breast Cancer

The Cancer That Wouldn’t Go Away by Hadassa Field

Recommended for: younger children

A sensitive, warm story written for children whose parent has metastatic cancer (cancer which has spread to other areas of the body). Uncertainty about the future can be particularly difficult for children (and parents) to deal with, and this book couldn’t be more helpful. It even includes a “How to Use This Book” guide for parents and professionals, written by child trauma psychologist Rinat R. Green, Psy.D.

The Cancer That Wouldn't Go Away

What Every Child Needs To Know About Cancer by Bradley Snyder and Marc Engelsgjerd

Recommended for: younger children

Two dads – one an oncology analyst and one a child psychology expert – teamed up to write this engaging, super easy-to-read book about cancer. It’s honest, simple, and a perfect conversation starter for younger children struggling to understand how cancer might affect people in their family.

What Every Child Needs To Know About Cancer

The Secret C: Straight Talking About Cancer by Julie Stokes

Recommended for: younger and older children

With reassuring language and straightforward explanations, this non-fiction book helps children to understand what cancer is and how treatments work.It focuses on a helpful, normalising message about how sticking to normal family routines can be helpful for everyone.

The Secret C

Is Cancer Contagious? by Vern Kousky

Recommended for: younger children

With cute illustrations and clear, concise descriptions, this book tackles some of the tough questions children can come out with when cancer affects their family. 

cancer book for children

Whether it’s your child, a child you know, or someone in your family who has cancer, we hope you find something that helps answer those difficult questions.

Stay tuned for our next book round-up – this time with helpful books for teens affected by cancer.

For books about cancer for adults, view our entire Cancer Books range here →


Click here for our guide to childhood cancer