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  • Jia Rebecca Li, LMFT

Stories and Fictions for Children and Teens about Changes and Transitions

Copyright 2024 Jia Rebecca Li Psychotherapy



Over the years, I've gathered some stories and books about changes and transitions in life, big or small, for young kids and adolescents.


These are NOT how-to books, but story/fiction books. I find that the how-to books tend to send readers into their head, but stories and fictions - just like music, movies, etc. - draw our emotions and allow the readers a place to feel and be with feelings. Sometimes it's hard for kids to "talk" about their difficult experiences, but books seem to offer just the right distance to get into the feelings that are difficult.


Stories don't have to parallel the content of our lives to be impactful; in fact, different settings and storylines can offer extra distance to feel safe to experience those emotions. As we feel "for the characters," we are also finding a safe place for similar emotions in us to land, to unfold, to flow through our body, and to feel acknowledged and accepted.


The list below is divided into three age groups. Age guide is approximate and each individual child's needs vary, so please excise discretion as appropriate for your child.



3rd Grade and Younger

Title / Author

Themes/Comments

Lifetimes, by Bryan Mellonie

a poetic description of different creatures and their lifespans or different times

The Mountains of Tibet, by Mordicai Gerstein

poetic, with a Buddhist framework for thinking about transitions and changes

The Kissing Hand, Audrey Penn

offers a sweet visualization to help children cope with being away from a loved one, such as 1st day of school



Understanding Myself, by Mary Lamia, Phd

about intense emotions

Mood Flip Book, Peter Pauper Press, Inc


Goodnight Already! by Jory John & Benji Davies


Cat Problems, by Jory John

no problem is too big or small

Who Moved My Cheese? (picture book)


Help Your Dragon Deal with Change

one of a series about a little boy and his dragon who needs to learn about all kinds of different things

Wemberly Worries, by Kevin Henkes

a child with lots of worries can feel seen and reassured, without feeling criticized for "worrying too much"

Kalamata's Kitchen, by Sarah Thomas

support children feeling present-moment grounding, which helps to cope with anxiety, including first day of school

Santiago's Sadness, by Gabi Garcia

support children to be with their feelings - in this case, dealing with a family move - rather than avoiding or treating them as something bad/wrong

A Carousel Tale, by Elisa Kleven

A young child's experiences about negotiating authenticity/self-expression and fitting into the world

A Tale of Two Seders, by Mindy Avra Portnoy

Validates painful feelings in challenging loss/change (here, parents divorce) and celebrate adaptation and finding joy

Amaya's Anger, by Gabi Garcia

learning about difficult feelings such as anger, jealousy etc and the deeper feelings underneath them, and skills such as breathing, naming feelings, etc to cope

Tomorrow Most Likely, by Dave Eggers

A fun, silly way to talk to a child about what's "most likely" going to happen tomorrow and how delightful that can be\

There Must be More Than That!, by Shinsuke Yoshitake

children who have been exposed to adult worries (war, climate change etc) to shift from the fear of a terrible future to alternative ways that future can unfold

Kevin the Unicorn, by Jessika von Innerrebner

Normalize that there are good days and bad days, and they don't need to pretend to be happy when their inside feels differently

What to Do When You Grumble Too Much, by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D

A bit more on the "how-to" side, but helpful as an introduction about ways to be resilient when things don't go your way. Some metaphors are helpful, and kids can come up with their own metaphors

The Goodbye Book, by Todd Parr

Through the lens of a pet fish who has lost its companion, The Goodbye Book tells a touching and hopeful story about saying goodbye to someone you love. Addressing the host of emotions children experience, Todd reminds readers that it’s okay not to know all the answers, and that someone will always be there to support them. An invaluable resource for life’s toughest moments.

Lenny & Lucy, by Philip C Steed and Erin Stead

Normalizing the feelings and experiences of a young child moving to a new, unfamiliar place and making friends with the unknown

A House for Hermit Crab, by Eric Carle

A hermit crab outgroew his shell and must search for a new one. A tale about growth and adaptation

The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires

A girl sets out to make the most magnificent thing, working through frustration and setbacks. A story about dealing with dissapointment and perseverance

Dr Suess books


Bearenstein bear books


Upper Elementary to Middle School

High School and Late Teen

If you have any good books to suggest, please email us your recommendations.







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