Trauma-Informed Diverse Reading List

Trauma-Informed Reading List

Many children experience trauma, or adverse childhood experiences, and go through times of extreme stress. Trauma has the ability to impact children’s learning, social interactions and relationships, and overall well-being. Literature can be a safe space for young people to talk about characters’ actions and situations and the ways that they navigated distressing scenarios. The following books showcase child protagonists who cope with trauma in a variety of ways and provide students the opportunity to discuss trauma through the lens of a relatable and engaging character.

Themes: War and Displacement | Loss and Death | Natural Disaster | Violence | Family Trauma or Separation | Poverty, Homelessness, or Economic Insecurity | Bullying | Illness and Mental Health

⇒Download the print version here 

⇒Find this collection online here

 


 

Skip to:

Grades PreK-2  •  Grades 3-5  •  Grades 6-8

 


Grades PreK-2

A HOUSE BY THE RIVER A HOUSE BY THE RIVER • written and illustrated by Christy Hale • The story of a young girl who learns her rickety old house by the river is stronger than the fiercest storm because it is fortified by love and family. • Natural Disaster
A SHELTER IN OUR CAR A SHELTER IN OUR CAR • written by Monica Gunning, illustrated by Elaine Pedlar • In this heartwarming story, Zettie and her mama encounter temporary homelessness and are forced to live in their car, but with unwavering love, support, and determination, they know that they can meet all challenges. • Poverty, Homelessness, or Economic Insecurity
AMELIA’S ROAD AMELIA’S ROAD • written by Linda Jacobs Altman, illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez • Amelia, a child of a migrant worker family, finds solace in a tree that inspires her to put her own roots down in a special way in this inspirational tale. Also available in Spanish. • Poverty, Homelessness, or Economic Insecurity
ANTONIO’S CARD/LA TARJETA DE ANTONIO ANTONIO’S CARD/LA TARJETA DE ANTONIO • written by Rigoberto González, illustrated by Cecilia Álvarez • In this gentle LGBTQ story written by award-winning Chicano poet Rigoberto González, a young boy considers the right way to celebrate his mother and her partner on Mother’s Day. • Bullying
CALLING THE WATER DRUM CALLING THE WATER DRUM • written by LaTisha Redding, illustrated by Aaron Boyd • After a young Haitian boy loses his parents as they attempt to flee Haiti in a boat, he can only communicate with the outside world through playing his drum. • Family Trauma or Separation; Poverty, Homelessness, or Economic Insecurity; Loss and Death
DESHAWN DAYS DESHAWN DAYS • written by Tony Medina, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie • In this uplifting story told in verse, a young boy living in the projects of the inner city speaks about his hopes, fears, and dreams. • Loss and Death
FIRST DAY IN GRAPES FIRST DAY IN GRAPES • written by L. King Perez, illustrated by Robert Casilla • All year long, Chico and his family move up and down the state of California, picking fruits and vegetables. When bullies confront Chico at his new school, he responds wisely and with strengths of his own. Also available in Spanish. • Bullying
GETTIN’ THROUGH THURSDAY GETTIN’ THROUGH THURSDAY • written by Melrose Cooper, illustrated by Nneka Bennett • A young African American boy experiences the love and support of his family as they try to make ends meet each week. • Poverty, Homelessness, or Economic Insecurity
GRANDFATHER’S STORY CLOTH GRANDFATHER’S STORY CLOTH • written by Linda Gerdner, Sarah Langford, illustrated by Stuart Loughridge • Chersheng and his grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s Disease, share a Hmong story cloth that brings Grandfather’s memories of his life in Laos to life. Chersheng plans to capture his family’s new life with his own art project. • War and Displacement; Family Trauma or Separation; Illness and Mental Health
GRANDMA’S PURPLE FLOWERS GRANDMA’S PURPLE FLOWERS • written and illustrated by Adjoa J. Burrowes • The story of a young girl who cherishes her frequent visits to her grandma, then finds a way to remember her with hope and joy after she passes away. • Loss and Death
JANNA AND THE KINGS JANNA AND THE KINGS • written by Patricia Smith, illustrated by Aaron Boyd • A young African American girl learns to keep her grandfather's memory alive by rediscovering their special place—the local barbershop where they spent Saturdays together. • Loss and Death
JOSHUA’S MASAI MASK JOSHUA’S MASAI MASK • written by Dakari Hru, illustrated by Anna Rich • Joshua loves playing his kalimba, a traditional African musical instrument. After he wishes to be popular at the school talent show, where his classmates love rap, his uncle Zambei gives him a magical Masai mask that grants his wish and more. • Bullying
JUNA’S JAR JUNA’S JAR • written by Jane Bahk, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino • Juna, an imaginative Korean American girl, goes on magical adventures using her special kimchi jar in search of her best friend who moved away. • Loss and Death
PRIETITA AND THE GHOST WOMAN/PRIETITA Y LA LLORONA PRIETITA AND THE GHOST WOMAN/PRIETITA Y LA LLORONA • written by Gloria Anzaldúa, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez • Readers are in for a magical journey in this reinterpretation of the famous Mexican legend of La Llorona, the ghost woman. Bilingual English/Spanish • Loss and Death; Illness and Mental Health
RAYMOND’S PERFECT PRESENT RAYMOND’S PERFECT PRESENT • written by Therese On Louie, illustrated by Suling Wang • A Chinese American boy receives a nice surprise of his own when he surprises his mother in the hospital. • Illness and Mental Health
SOLEDAD SIGH-SIGHS/SOLEDAD SUSPIROS SOLEDAD SIGH-SIGHS/SOLEDAD SUSPIROS • written by Rigoberto González, illustrated by Rosa Ibarra • A delicate and touching tale about Soledad, who dreads coming home to her lonely house every day after school, and her friends’ lively ingenuity in dealing with this common concern. Bilingual English/Spanish • Family Trauma or Separation
SPARKLE BOY SPARKLE BOY • written by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Maria Mola • Young Casey loves sparkly things, but his older sister Jessie does not approve of his interest until an encounter with bullies helps her learn to accept and respect Casey for who he is. • Bullying
THE BLUE ROSES THE BLUE ROSES • written by Linda Boyden, illustrated by Amy Córdova • A contemporary Native American girl learns to understand the cycle of life after her beloved grandfather dies. • Loss and Death
THE THREE LUCYS THE THREE LUCYS • written by Hayan Charara, illustrated by Sara Kahn • When his village comes under attack and he loses one of his beloved cats, a young Lebanese boy must learn to hope for a peaceful future. • War and Displacement; Violence; Family Trauma or Separation
THE WISHING TREE THE WISHING TREE • written by Roseanne Thong, illustrated by Connie McLennan • A touching story about the love between a boy and his grandmother, coping with her death, and the importance of appreciating what we already have in life. • Family Trauma or Separation; Loss and Death

 


 

Grades 3-5

A SONG FOR CAMBODIA A SONG FOR CAMBODIA • written by Michelle Lord, illustrated by Shino Arihara • The inspirational true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, his early life in a children’s work camp after his village was invaded by Khmer Rouge soldiers, and how music changed the course of his life. • War and Displacement; Poverty, Homelessness, or Economic Insecurity
BIRD BIRD • written by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Shadra Strickland • An African American boy nicknamed Bird uses drawing as a creative outlet as he struggles to make sense of his grandfather’s death and his brother’s drug addiction. • Loss and Death; Illness and Mental Health
BROTHERS IN HOPE BROTHERS IN HOPE • written by Mary Williams, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie • After war destroys his village in southern Sudan, a young boy unites with thousands of other orphans to walk safely to a refugee camp. This powerful story of survival and brotherhood is based on true events. • War and Displacement; Poverty, Homelessness, or Economic Insecurity
FRIENDS FROM THE OTHER SIDE/AMIGOS DEL OTRO LADO FRIENDS FROM THE OTHER SIDE/AMIGOS DEL OTRO LADO • written by Gloria Anzaldúa, illustrated by Consuelo Méndez • This poignant immigration story captures not only the hardship of daily life on the border, but also the beauty of the landscape and the dignity and generosity of spirit that Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants share. Bilingual English/Spanish • Family Trauma or Separation; Bullying; Poverty, Homelessness or Economic Insecurity
FROM NORTH TO SOUTH/DEL NORTE AL SUR FROM NORTH TO SOUTH/DEL NORTE AL SUR • written by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Joe Cepeda • Author René Colato Laínez tackles the difficult subject of family separation with exquisite tenderness when José’s Mamá has to return to Mexico for not having proper papers and his family faces an uncertain future. Bilingual English/Spanish • Family Trauma or Separation
HOME TO MEDICINE MOUNTAIN HOME TO MEDICINE MOUNTAIN • written by Chiori Santiago, illustrated by Judith Lowry • Two young Maidu Indian brothers, sent to live at a government-run Indian residential school in California in the 1930s, find a way to escape and return home for the summer. • Family Trauma or Separation; Bullying
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY/NO TIENE QUE SER ASI IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY/NO TIENE QUE SER ASI • written by Luis Rodríguez, illustrated by Daniel Galvez • A compelling tale of a young boy’s encounter with the world of gangs—a world that author Luis J. Rodríguez knows firsthand. There is no easy answer to Monchi’s dilemma, but the love and respect of his uncle help him find a way out. Bilingual English/Spanish •  Bullying
MALALA YOUSAFZAI: WARRIOR WITH WORDS MALALA YOUSAFZAI: WARRIOR WITH WORDS • written by Karen Abouraya, illustrated by Susan L. Roth • The inspiring true story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who has become an international activist for universal education, with beautiful collage illustrations by award-winning artist Susan L. Roth. Also available in Spanish War and Displacement; Violence; Family Trauma or Separation
MY DIARY FROM HERE TO THERE/MI DIARIO DE AQUI HASTA ALLA MY DIARY FROM HERE TO THERE/MI DIARIO DE AQUI HASTA ALLA • written by Amada Irma Pérez, illustrated by Amada Irma Pérez Amada Irma Pérez Amada records her fears, hopes and dreams about moving from Mexico to the other side of the border in California in her trusted diary. Bilingual English/Spanish • Family Trauma or Separation; Poverty, Homelessness, or Economic Insecurity
RENT PARTY JAZZ RENT PARTY JAZZ • written by William Miller, illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb • An African American boy living in New Orleans in the 1930s raises money to pay the rent with the help of a popular jazz musician. • Poverty, Homelessness, or Economic Insecurity
RISE! FROM CAGED BIRD TO POET OF THE PEOPLE, MAYA ANGELOU RISE! FROM CAGED BIRD TO POET OF THE PEOPLE, MAYA ANGELOU • written by Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Tonya Engel • In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, this beautiful biography of Maya Angelou describes how she rose above a childhood of trauma and emotional pain to become one of the most inspiring voices of our lifetime. • Family Trauma or Separation; Violence
SELVAKUMAR KNEW BETTER SELVAKUMAR KNEW BETTER • written by Virginia Kroll, illustrated by Xiaojun Li • The true story of a courageous and clever dog who saved a boy’s life during the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 is sure to touch the hearts of readers of all ages. • Natural Disaster
SINGING WITH MOMMA LOU SINGING WITH MOMMA LOU • written by Linda Jacobs Altman, illustrated by Larry Johnson • A little girl searches for a way to help her grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, restore her memories. • Illness and Mental Health
THE UPSIDE DOWN BOY/EL NIÑO DE CABEZA THE UPSIDE DOWN BOY/EL NIÑO DE CABEZA • written by Juan Herrera, illustrated by Elizabeth Gómez • The Upside Down Boy/El niño de cabeza is former US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s engaging memoir of the year his migrant family settled down so that he could go to school for the first time. Bilingual English/Spanish • Family Trauma or Separation
WHEN THE HORSES RIDE BY WHEN THE HORSES RIDE BY • written by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Gilchrist • A collection of poems about children throughout history, focusing on their perceptions of war and how war affects their lives. • War and Displacement
THE ROAD TO SANTIAGO THE ROAD TO SANTIAGO • written by D. H. Figueredo, illustrated by Pablo Torrecilla • Alfredito and his parents need to get to Santiago for Christmas, but the war against the rebeldes has stopped all the trains. So the family finds a farmer with an old car . . . the start of an adventure they will never forget. This heartwarming story is based on author D.H. Figueredo’s experience growing up in Cuba in the late 1950s. • War and Displacement

 

 


 

Grades 6-8

AHIMSA AHIMSA • by Supriya Kelkar • In this historical novel, Gandhi asks for one member of each family to join the fight for independence from the British, and when Anjali’s mother is jailed for doing so, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother’s work. • Loss and Death; Family Trauma or Separation; Violence
ALL THE STARS DENIED ALL THE STARS DENIED • by Guadalupe García McCall • Guadalupe García McCall tackles the hidden history of the United States and its first mass deportation event that swept up hundreds of thousands of Mexican American citizens during the Great Depression. • War and Displacement; Family Trauma or Separation
ALICIA AFTERIMAGE ALICIA AFTERIMAGE • by Lulu Delacre • A story of remembrance as well as an exploration of teen grief and healing, recounting the life and death of the author’s sixteen-year-old daughter, as told through her parents’ and friends’ recollections, thoughts, feelings, and memories. • Loss and Death
CHESS RUMBLE CHESS RUMBLE • written by G. Neri, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson • In this story told in free verse, a troubled boy learns to use his mind instead of his fists through the guidance of an unconventional mentor and the game of chess. • Bullying; Violence
I AM ALFONSO JONES I AM ALFONSO JONES • written by Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson, John Jennings • Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give: An unflinching graphic novel about the afterlife of a young man killed by an off-duty police officer. • Loss and Death; Family Trauma or Separation; Violence
RATTLESNAKE MESA RATTLESNAKE MESA • written by EdNah New Rider Weber, photographed by Richela Renkun • The true account of a spirited Native American girl’s experiences growing up on a reservation and attending Phoenix Indian School in the 1920s, accompanied by photographs that recreate the time and place. • Family Trauma or Separation; Bullying
SUMMER OF THE MARIPOSAS SUMMER OF THE MARIPOSAS • by Guadalupe García McCall • In this creative telling of The Odyssey, fifteen-year-old Odilia and her younger sisters embark on a journey to return a dead man to his family in Mexico and must outwit monsters and witches to make it home again. Also available in SpanishLoss and Death
UNDER THE MESQUITE UNDER THE MESQUITE • by Guadalupe García McCall • Lupita, a budding actor and poet in a close-knit Mexican American immigrant family, comes of age as she struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother’s long illness. • Loss and Death
YUMMY: THE LAST DAYS OF A SOUTHSIDE SHORTY YUMMY: THE LAST DAYS OF A SOUTHSIDE SHORTY • written by G. Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurke • A graphic novel based on the true story of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, an eleven-year-old boy from Chicago’s South Side who was killed by his own gang members. • Loss and Death; Violence
INDIAN NO MORE INDIAN NO MORE • by Charlene Willing McManis, Traci Sorell • In this middle grade novel set in the 1950s, a 10-year-old Umpqua girl and her family’s tribal rights are terminated and they must relocate from their reservation in Oregon to Los Angeles, where they are expected to assimilate • Family Trauma and Separation; War and Displacement

Contact Us

Telephone: (212) 779-4400 x 28

Email: customer.support[at]leeandlow[dot]com

Educator's Newsletter: Subscribe


Logo-active_learner

FREE Teacher's Guides

Helpful educator resources can be found at our Educators

Search our Teacher's Guides