Bullying is the big news right now, but kids face a host of other problems that they're not always willing to talk to their parents about -- or that their parents simply don't know how to handle instinctively. These books are geared for younger children, but they're good jumping-off points for conversations with older kids as well.
Emily's New Friend, by Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post. From the Emily Post institute -- yes, she of all things etiquette -- comes a series of children's books that address everything from manners to minding one's "pleases" and "thank yous." This volume shows children that it can be easy to make new friends -- and that being a good friend is a pleasure in and of itself -- by focusing on courtesy, compassion, and inclusiveness.
The Great Katie Kate Tackles Questions About Cancer, by M. Maitland DeLand, M.D. This book explains childhood cancers to children who have been recently diagnosed. The author is an oncologist who specializes in treating cancer in women and children, and her heroine -- the Great Katie Kate -- explains treatments and procedures clearly and positively, answering questions and easing concerns.
The Paci Pixie, by Amy Perreault and Cheryl Hajjar. Any parent who's tried to ditch the pacifier will understand why this book is so wonderful. A magical pixie flits from room to room, making children so strong that they don't need their pacis any more.
I'm Up in a Tree, by Mark Alden Johnson. Sometimes, getting out of a mess is much harder than getting into one. When a young boy finds himself stuck in a tree, he doesn't know whether to wait for his dad or get down on his own. How's a kid to know whose advice to follow? This book helps develop a child's reasoning skills.
Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same, by Grace Lin. You don't have to be a twin to feel indignant that people assume you and your sibling are the same. This book of six short stories illustrates the fact that people are different -- even when they look alike.
How Lil' Eddie Learns to Read, by Rima H. Corral. Literacy begins at home, and this book encourages parents to help their children learn the fundamentals even before they head off to school. The "Help for Parents" sections scattered throughout the book offer tips for fostering a love of reading in children as young as 3 years old.
Busy Bees at Work and Play, by M. Maitland DeLand, MD. If your child has ever asked you why you have to go to work, this book belongs on your shelf at home. Momma Bee and Bambina Bee learn that there's a time for work and a time for play, that there are many different types of jobs, and that moms and dads both have to work and love to play when the workday is done.
Matthew and the Bullies, and other Helping Hand books by Sarah, Duchess of York. This series of books covers stranger danger, welcoming a new sibling, coping with anxiety on the first day of school, and, of course, bullying, in which the protagonist learns that the best way to deal with bullies is to stand up for himself, confide in his parents, and feel secure in his own abilities.
Feeding Penny Pig, by Jeannine Fox. Even kindergarteners can learn about finances. This book helps kids understand the value of money and the importance of saving their coins and donating to charity. It's simple and straightforward -- a good starting point for teaching children about money.
Finance for Kidz, by Prakash L. Dheeriya. This 10-book series, written by a finance professor at the California State University-Dominguez Hills, goes into much more depth than other children's books about money. The books cover everything financial, from budgeting to bartering, from inflation and deflation to defining goods and services.