Books about family illness

Operation Nativity

Books can help if you and your family are going through tough times. It is comforting to know that you're not the only one.

This is a selection of stories where a member of the protagonist's family is ill. It includes mental illness, as well as physical.

  • The Perfect Shelter

    Author: Clare Helen Welsh

    Interest level: 4-8

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  • The Perfect Shelter

    Author: Clare Helen Welsh

    Interest level: 4-8

    Reading age:

    It’s the perfect day to build a shelter, the perfect day for a family expedition, the perfect day to play in a den. However, joy t…

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  • Sometimes

    Author: Rebecca Elliott

    Interest level: 4+

    Reading age: 6+

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  • Sometimes

    Author: Rebecca Elliott

    Interest level: 4+

    Reading age: 6+

    When Toby’s sister Clemmie is unwell, she has to go and stay in hospital...

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  • The Last Dragon

    Author: Polly Ho Yen Illustrator: Charis Loke

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 9+

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  • The Last Dragon

    Author: Polly Ho Yen Illustrator: Charis Loke

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 9+

    An encounter with a real-life dragon in Milton Keynes helps 12-year-old Yara learn who she is.  

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  • Pretend Cows

    Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Cathy Fisher

    Interest level: 6-11

    Reading age: 7+

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  • Pretend Cows

    Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Cathy Fisher

    Interest level: 6-11

    Reading age: 7+

    When Maxy's beloved herd of cows has to be killed for suspected disease, Maxy refuses to believe they're gone, choosing instead to…

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  • Pirates of Darksea

    Author: Catherine Doyle

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 9+

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  • Pirates of Darksea

    Author: Catherine Doyle

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 9+

    When Max answers the call to join Captain O’Malley’s pirate ship instead of his brother, who’s ill, it’s the start of a rip-roarin…

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  • House of Robots

    Author: James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

    Interest level: 7-10

    Reading age: 7+

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  • House of Robots

    Author: James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

    Interest level: 7-10

    Reading age: 7+

    Patterson and Grabenstein create a funny, easily read novel, liberally aided by Juliana Neufeld’s illustrations, but beneath…

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  • The Rollercoaster Boy

    Author: Lisa Thompson Illustrator: Gemma Correll

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 8+

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  • The Rollercoaster Boy

    Author: Lisa Thompson Illustrator: Gemma Correll

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 8+

    Todd's life is like a rollercoaster ride, with endless twists and turns, exacerbated by the unpredictable behaviour of his mentall…

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  • Operation Nativity

    Author: Jenny Pearson Illustrator: Katie Kear

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 9+

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  • Operation Nativity

    Author: Jenny Pearson Illustrator: Katie Kear

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 9+

    When the Archangel Gabriel inadvertently blasts several members of the nativity into a present-day Hampshire village, siblings Osc…

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  • The Final Year

    Author: Matt Goodfellow Illustrator: Joe Todd-Stanton

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 9+

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  • The Final Year

    Author: Matt Goodfellow Illustrator: Joe Todd-Stanton

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 9+

    When he falls out with his best friend and then his little brother is rushed into hospital, Nate’s world is turned upside-down. Th…

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  • Skellig

    Author: David Almond

    Interest level: 10+

    Reading age: 11+

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  • Skellig

    Author: David Almond

    Interest level: 10+

    Reading age: 11+

    Exploring a ramshackle garage with his new-found friend Mina, Michael discovers a strange, magical creature who needs his help.&nb…

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  • Who Let the Gods Out?

    Author: Maz Evans

    Interest level: 9-13

    Reading age: 10+

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  • Who Let the Gods Out?

    Author: Maz Evans

    Interest level: 9-13

    Reading age: 10+

    A quirky fantasy adventure in which a human boy and a Greek goddess accidentally release an immortal supervillain who is determine…

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  • Miraculous Miranda

    Author: Siobhan Parkinson

    Interest level: 9-12

    Reading age: 9-12

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  • Miraculous Miranda

    Author: Siobhan Parkinson

    Interest level: 9-12

    Reading age: 9-12

    When her sister has to stay in hospital, Miranda escapes into her own fantasy land: Magnanimous. Can Miranda write a miracle for h…

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  • A Pocketful of Stars

    Author: Aisha Bushby

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 8+

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  • A Pocketful of Stars

    Author: Aisha Bushby

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 8+

    Safiya must uncover the truth of her mother’s history to help her survive the present. A beautifully written and page-turning…

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  • Ella on the Outside

    Author: Cath Howe

    Interest level: 8-11

    Reading age: 8+

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  • Ella on the Outside

    Author: Cath Howe

    Interest level: 8-11

    Reading age: 8+

    Ella's going through a lot of changes - a new home, a new school, and a big family secret to keep under wraps. But how f…

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  • Stonebird

    Author: Mike Revell

    Interest level: 11-13

    Reading age: 9

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  • Stonebird

    Author: Mike Revell

    Interest level: 11-13

    Reading age: 9

    An accessible and engaging story about the sadness and joy of family life and the power of memory, magic and storytelling.

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  • In Darkling Wood

    Author: Emma Carroll

    Interest level: 11-15

    Reading age: 10+

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  • In Darkling Wood

    Author: Emma Carroll

    Interest level: 11-15

    Reading age: 10+

    An unusual and engaging dual-narrative tale about love, loss, faith and complex family relationships.

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  • Dandelion Clocks

    Author: Rebecca Westcott

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 9+

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  • Dandelion Clocks

    Author: Rebecca Westcott

    Interest level: 9+

    Reading age: 9+

    Powerful, memorable and accessible, the book also boasts a very positive depiction of a character with Asperger's Syndrome.

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  • Ghosts

    Author: Raina Telgemeier

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 8+

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  • Ghosts

    Author: Raina Telgemeier

    Interest level: 9-11

    Reading age: 8+

    Cat is moving with her family to a new town in Northern California where the colder, wetter climate will be better for her sister …

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  • Boom Boom

    Author: Jude Idada

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 9-10

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  • Boom Boom

    Author: Jude Idada

    Interest level: 12+

    Reading age: 9-10

    A heartwarming, heartbreaking story about one Nigerian family whose life is blighted by sickle-cell anaemia and a remarkable talki…

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  • A Beautiful Lie

    Author: Irfan Master

    Interest level: 11-13

    Reading age: 11+

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  • A Beautiful Lie

    Author: Irfan Master

    Interest level: 11-13

    Reading age: 11+

    Set in India during the summer of 1947, A Beautiful Lie follows the tumultuous events of the Partition of India through the eyes o…

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