Thursday, March 12, 2009

Living with divorced parents – a kid’s perspective

We all know kids who live with divorced parents, sharing time in each parent’s separate home. Kids do it; parents do it. They adapt. But picture books don’t often show this part of everyday life. Fred Stays with Me! is a simple but powerful picture book about a young girl who travels between her mom's home and her dad's home. She spends nights at her mom's and her dad's, but Fred her dog stays with her, traveling to both homes.
Fred Stays with Me!, by Nancy Coffelt
Little, Brown Young Readers, c2007
ages 4 - 7
I love how this picture book shows the little girl's family life as just accepted. The word “divorced” is never discussed. This is her life, and this is how she lives it. She has the same friend, the same school - but one of her rooms has a bunk bed and the other has a regular bed. Fred is her constant friend and companion throughout it all.
"At my mom's, Fred barks at the poodle next door. At my dad's Fred steals socks. But Fred always time to play. …

Fred is my friend. We walk together. We talk together. When I'm happy, Fred is, too. And when I'm sad, Fred is there."
So when her parents tell her that Fred can't stay with either of them, she puts her foot down. "Excuse me, Fred doesn't stay with either of you. Fred stays with ME!" All of them find ways to help Fred work out better. He isn’t a perfect dog, but he is the perfect part of their daughter’s life.

There are very few books that show young kids dealing with divorce. But what makes this a perfect book is how it capture’s the child’s point of view. It shows what is important to her, how she adapts to the changes in her parents’ lives, and how she finds the stability she needs. Finally, it shows even-handedness in treating both dad and mom without bias toward either parent.

This book is perfect for all families to read. My only caution: it will lead to calls of, “I want a dog!”

Find it at the Berkeley Public Library and the Oakland Public Library. Find it at Amazon.


3 comments:

  1. Sweet book! And one I need to make sure my kids don't read, because we're not getting a dog! LOL

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  2. And Tricia Tusa's illustrations are always top-notch!!!

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