Child Life

Books to Read that Relate to Child Life

There are so many ways we as students prepare ourselves to become Certified Child Life Specialists. We volunteer in hospitals as well as other settings.  We attend conferences and student symposiums.  We gear our classes with a child life emphasis as much as possible.  We continually refresh our minds on theories in development.  We prep for interview questions.  We memorize every detail of basically every hospital’s practicum or internship program requirements.  I think my cortisol levels rise just thinking about all these things! And I’m pretty sure that I could make that list 10x longer!  And I’m going to add one more. Don’t despair yet though!

Reading books also helps prepare us for the field.  Below I’ve provided a list of books that many people have recommended to me.  I have organized about 30 different books into a three different categories below.  Happy reading on those rainy days!


  1. The Handbook of Child Life: A Guide for Pediatric Psychosocial Care by Richard H. Thompson
  2. Child Life Professional Certification Candidate Manual by the Child Life Certifying Committee
  3. Therapeutic Activities for Children and Teens Coping with Health Issues by Robyn Hart
  4. In Sickness and In Play: Children Coping with Chronic Illness by Cindy Dell Clark
  5. Developmentally Appropriate Play: Guiding Young Children to a Higher Level by Gaye Gronlund
  6. The Power of Play by David Elkind, Ph.D.
  7. Play Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice by David A. Crenshaw and Anne L. Stewart
  8. Oxford Textbook of Palliative Care for Children
  9. Working with Grieving and Traumatized Children and Adolescents: Discovering What Matters Most through Evidence-Based, Sensory Interventions by William Steele and Caelan Kuban
  10. Supporting Foster and Adoptive Children through Grief and Loss: Practical Ideas and Creative Approaches by Lorna Miles and Anna Jacobs


  1. Limbo: A Memoir by A. Manette Ansay
  2. Catching My Breath: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness by Tim Brookes
  3. Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient by Norman Cousins
  4. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
  5. How to Be Sick & How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness by Toni Bernhard
  6. Love Sick by Cory Martin
  7. Siblings by Kate Strohm
  8. Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them by Randy Christensen, M.D.
  9. Ordinary Life: A Memoir of Illness by Kathlyn Conway
  10. Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

Children’s Books

  1. The Moon Balloon by Joan Drescher
  2. When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
  3. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  4. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
  5. Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberley and Anne Miranda
  6. A Visit to the Hospital by Sesame Street
  7. The Famous Hat by Kate Gaynor
  8. The Great Katie Kate Tackles Questions about Cancer by M. Maitland DeLand, M.D.
  9. When I Feel Sad by Cornelia Maude Spelman
  10. Samantha Jane’s Missing Smile by Julie Kaplow and Donna Pincus

Please keep in mind that I have not read ALL of these books (I would really love to though).  If you’re a parent looking at buying books for your children, be sure to look at reviews and always skim read the books before you hand them over to your children. Just because a book advertises a certain content or topic, does not mean that you will be comfortable with your child reading it.

Lastly, I would love to hear some more suggestions on other great books that anyone else has read!  Feel free to comment and make your own contributions and share with others 🙂


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