Illness is a topic that is difficult to explain to children, and the feelings around people they know and care about who become ill are difficult to navigate. Here is a list of books for preschool through middle school children that touch on illnesses and hopefully make understanding illness a little bit easier.
From Curious George to Franklin the Turtle and an historical look at the Flu of 1918, these titles will help parents and children have a better understanding of illnesses and how to stay healthy.

All of the books are available on Hoopla and are accessible for free with a Beaufort County Library Card. 
(Note: All Beaufort County buildings are closed to the public until further notice because of the novel coronavirus. For more information, visit

Preschool-Lower Elementary

21st Century Basic Skills Library: Keep It Clean by Cecilia Minden

These four titles, Achoo!, Germ Free, Get Well Soon, and Time to Wash Up, feature basic information in short sentences that introduce the reader to ways to stay healthy. They also feature pictures of children on each page, which will keep small readers more engaged.

Curious George Discovers Germs by H. A. Rey

George comes down with a cold. While he is sleeping, he dreams of germs, how they affect us, and how to get better. A story filled with facts and photos mixed with the illustrations, children are sure to remember a fact or two.  

Little Critter: Just a Little Sick by Mercer Mayer

This easy reader, with a sentence or so per page, is an easy introduction about getting sick. In this story, Little Critter has to stay home, and is excited. He soon learns being sick at home is not what he thought.

Pete the Kitty goes to the Doctor by James Dean

Written for readers first starting to read, Pete has to go to the doctor. He is anxious but ends up seeing it was all right. A beloved character like Pete the Cat is a great way to keep kids interested.

Franklin Goes to the Hospital by Paulette Bourgeois

Franklin the Turtle faces anxiety about having surgery to fix his broken shell. He is worried that the X-ray will show everyone how scared he is. This title explores how one can be scared and brave at the same time.

Upper Elementary-Middle School

How do they Help? The World Health Organization  by Katie Marsico

This book explores in simple language what the World Health Organization is and how it helps. To learn more about the WHO with your child, visit its website and search for “Covid-19 Q & A.” The topics are written to make it easy to understand and discuss the coronavirus with your kids.

Things that Surprise You by Jennifer Maschari 

A chapter book that deals with the anxiety that comes with worrying that a family member who was sick and is out of the hospital, may have to go back. Emily’s sister was treated in the hospital for anorexia. Emily is entering middle school and dealing with her parents’ divorce, anxiety over her sister, and possibly losing her best friend. A great read for kids learning to navigate tough situations in life. 

Kasey and Ivy  by Alison Hughes

This book is written in the form of 26 letters from Kasey to her friend Nina. Kasey chronicles her experiences from being diagnosed with “osteo-something-something-it is” to spending a month in the geriatric ward of the hospital and the feelings and experiences that go with it.

The Flu Pandemic of 1918 by Kristin Marciniak

For non-fiction readers and history buffs, this book, full of black and white photos and easily digestible facts, is all about the flu pandemic of 1918. It offers a good opportunity to compare it to COVID-19 in a discussion with your child.

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy 

This book is one to devour for anyone. It chronicles the Yellow Fever epidemic through a narrative that draws on firsthand accounts: How President Washington handled it, and the search for the cause and cure (which wasn’t found until more than a century later). It also draws parallels to modern day epidemics, features archival prints, a map and a thorough bibliography. A Newbery Honor Book, Sibert Medal Book and National Book Award finalist.

Madeline Helser-Howard is the Lobeco branch manager and youth services coordinator of the Beaufort County Library.