Here is our list of great kids books about hospital. This is by no means a comprehensive list, so make sure you pop your favourites in the comments below.
We absolutely adore books in our house, they are read every day and often help the kids to navigate difficult and important times. Books are also a wonderful distraction, one suggestion when we were compiling this list was The Wonky Donkey! A very funny tale indeed and a great way to look on the lighter side of a situation. Humorous and adventurous tales, not necessarily about hospital, can be fantastic for kids in hospital.
When it came time to prepare my daughter for the possibility of more surgery at the age of 4, I started looking for books that she could relate to in order to help understand and demystify hospital. I didn’t find an awful lot that seemed appropriate. While at this stage my daughter has been given the wonderful news of no surgery this year, I felt the need to delve deeper into children’s books about hospital and see what really was available out there.
I will start with our favourite: There’s a Hippopotamus on the Hospital Roof Eating Cake. It’s light, and fun (and funny!). However it still goes over the important things. The little boy in the story needs to go to hospital suddenly via ambulance to have his appendix removed.
“My hippo knows about what happens in hospitals. He knows about thermometers, and blood tests and cake tests.
There’s a hippopotamus in the hospital canteen, testing cakes.”
It covers; a trip in an ambulance, pain, being worried and scared, having your temperature taken, blood tests, operation, stitches, gas, IV lines, occupational therapy, staying in the hospital, scars and food in the hospital.
Another which is truly wonderful is Curious George goes to the hospital. This was first published in 1966. The version reviewed was published in 2011, and included a link to a free audio download. In the back, there is a note from Fredrick H. Lovejoy Jr., M.D. Associate Physician in Chief at Boston Children’s hospital. As well as tips from Boston Children’s hospital about preparing your child for hospital and during a hospital stay.
The story covers; X-Ray, hospital bracelet, people at the hospital, procedures, injection, pain, being worried or scared, medication, temperature, blood pressure and an operation. There is all the usual Curious George antics and silliness you would expect to keep it light and fun. A great story that covers a range of things in the hospital.
“He could see a big table with bright lamps over it and doctors and nurses all around. They had caps on their heads and masks over the faces; only their eyes were showing.”
Going to the hospital – Usborne First Experiences: A very well set out story that covers much of what a child would experience in the hospital. It is a story about a little boy who has an operation on his ear. Perhaps a little outdated, in terms of pictures and some concepts, however much of what it covers is still relevant. It covers; temperature, blood pressure, children’s ward, injections, operating theatre & anaesthetic.
Harry goes to the hospital – This is a longer story than the three titles above. It would be suitable for children aged about 5-8. Harry suddenly feels unwell and has to go to hospital at night, he has never been before and feels anxious and scared. It’s a wonderful book for children who may be anxious and shows them that it’s okay to feel that way, other children feel that way too. It covers; hospital staff, temperature, weighing, ID bracelet, emergency room, IV, anxiety, staying at the hospital, meeting new people, blood tests, X-ray, CAT scan and play therapy. There is also a section in the back for parents that covers topics such as; How you can help your child, other practical things you can do, relaxation and visualisation techniques, play as therapy and when to do more. A useful book for parents and children alike.
Do I have to go to Hospital? A first look at going to hospital. More of an information book than a story book. It covers; planned and unplanned visits to hospital. What to expect in terms of size, crowds and noise at hospital. Hospital staff, x-rays, machines, medicine and hospital wards. This book doesn’t go into a lot of detail, good for the younger children as the pictures show a lot more of what a child may experience.
Peppa goes to hospital is a nice introduction for younger children who may be Peppa Pig fans. It doesn’t really cover an awful lot about hospital, however may help reassure children that is isn’t such a scary place.
Katie goes to the hospital – The story of a little girl who requires an ear operation. It is a neat little story and covers; fasting, hospital beds, hospital smells!, ID bracelet, pulse, blood pressure, temperature, hospital gown, anaesthetic, the operating theatre, surgeons (including face masks) and post op. This one isn’t currently in print, however I found a copy at my local library, so you may be able to find one at your local library too.
Sammy’s heart operation is a free online book produced by The British Heart Foundation. It’s for children aged 7-11 who are undergoing heart surgery and is an absolutely fantastic resource. It is specifically for children undergoing heart surgery and is set out very clearly covering before the operation, the day of the operation and after the operation. It is extremely thorough and one of the best resources I’ve seen for kids. Best of all, it’s free!
Books for siblings; are also great in helping reassure and letting them know it’s okay to be feeling scared, upset or angry.
Sometimes is the story of a little boy whose big sister needs to have trips to the hospital. The little boy wants to help his sister feel better and they imagine different scenarios together, like sailing the hospital bed as a boat to different lands. It covers things like procedures the sibling may need to have and reasons why they might not be feeling well enough to play or even eat. A nice story for 3-5 year olds.
Noah’s Garden This book really struck a chord with me. Little Noah spends his days at The Children’s Hospital because his new sister, Jessica, was bornwith a serious medical condition. Normal family life is suspended, but he spends his days in the hospital garden, creating an imaginary world, longing for his sister to join him.
– Noah’s Garden is based on the author’s observations of her friends’ experiences in a Melbourne Hospital where they lived for seven months after their daughter, Jessica was born with a serious medical condition.
– It’s written as a tribute to all the families who have to stay in hospitals for long periods of time and for whom gardens become an oasis where children can play and families can attempt to have regular lives, even for the briefest of times.
– Explores the role of the imagination in dealing with adversity and explores the importance of a sanctuary – such as a garden – when families are in need.
For older kids; they may not be wanting books about the hospital, so much as a distraction from the hospital goings on. If you have a tablet, your local library may have the option to download books, as well as audiobooks through borrow box. A lot of the time there will be a place you can borrow books within the hospital too.
Books noted but not reviewed;
Going to Hospital (general)
Medikidz Comics (numerous specific conditions)
Patch the Braveheart Lion (heart surgery)
Can you make me better? (heart surgery)
Don’t forget to pop your own favourites in the comments below. Any books you’ve found that have been great prior to or during a hospital stay.
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