Today, on World Book Day, every child in full-time education in the UK receives a £1.00 book voucher. We wanted to share some good quality books about cancer or bereavement, for children to read on their own or with a trusted adult. In this blog, our Information Materials Researcher Sue Hawkins explains why and how we review children’s books about cancer. She shares some book suggestions, where to read the reviews, and how to get involved. 

A diagnosis of cancer in the family is a difficult time for any child or young person. There is no right or wrong way to feel and we have information about coping with your emotions and talking to children and teenagers about cancer that you may find helpful.

Some parents might feel that by not telling a child or teenager about a cancer diagnosis, they are protecting them. This is a normal response. But not explaining what’s happening may make some children feel more vulnerable. Speaking about it can also help to give children the chance to talk openly about their fears and worries.

If you don’t know how to start the conversation, you may find our booklet Talking to children and adults when an adult has cancer helpful or you may wish to look at some of the children’s books we have reviewed. Read on to find out more about these books. Reading a good book on their own or with a parent, trusted family member or carer can help children understand and manage their feelings and worries.

This is an image which shows multiple quote bubbles from people affected by cancer, who have reviewed some books for us. One quote says 'This sort of book is essential for teenagers. Your child may not want to talk to you about what they are going through and may find it hard to find someone in a similar position. This will help them realise they are not alone'. The second quote says 'This book would be a blessing to any family going through cancer. I found it very emotional and difficult to explain terminal lung cancer to my son and would have found this kind of book very helpful.'. The next quote is from a child, who says 'I really like the characters and the story; it helps to know that other children feel the way that me and my brother felt'. Another said 'I love that the book has been written by a teenager like me. I'ts very easy to read and all the medical words are explained in a way that I can understand. I recommend it as soon as possible after diagnosis'.

The reviews also help us advise our cancer information and support centres and public libraries about the most appropriate children’s cancer books to stock. The books are all reviewed by volunteers, including people affected by cancer and health professionals.

Since 2007, we have reviewed over 80 books for children on a wide range of topics such as:

  • children’s cancers
  • cancer in a parent or other family member
  • end of life
  • bereavement.

Books come in different formats, such as picture books, comic books, or fiction. You can read more about the review process.

Below are links to download the pdf reviews for these books for children and teenagers:

You can find all our book reviews in the Macmillan Cancer Support web directory of information materials, for people affected by cancer. Here, you can search for a book by title or author or you can find all the reviews by searching for “Book reviews”. Click on the title of the book to see the full record, where you can find a link to download the reviews. You can also download the Macmillan Core Book List  – a list of suggested books about cancer for public libraries. 

This image is of three quote bubbles, with quotes from some book reviewers. The first quote says 'It is always so fascinating to see how similar some of the comments are, and equally how different!', the second quote says 'I was so thrilled to see my review in print and to see that others had very much the same thoughts' and the last quote says 'It's so nice to see my review on there and to see what others thought of the book.'

How does the book reviewing process work?
You can volunteer to review books for us through the Volunteering Village website.

You can search by opportunity type, then select “Review documents” and “Search” to see a selection of the books currently available for review. This is what the page looks like:

This is a screenshot of the Volunteering Village home page, where you can apply to review a book.

When you see a book on the Volunteering Village that you would like to review, you can apply for the opportunity there, or contact Sue Hawkins. We send you a copy of the book free of charge. Then you will have two months to complete your review! Once we have several reviews of one book, we post them on our website for people to read. Want to know more? Download this pdf

Our volunteers enjoy reviewing books for us, here’s what some of them have said:

This image shows two more quotes from book reviewers. The first quote says 'I am really enjoying doing these reviews and it is helping enormously with my recovery and dealing with my feelings.' The second quote says 'I want to give something back and as I work full time this is an ideal way for me to make a small contribution.'

We hope this blog has given you some ideas of books you might find helpful this World Book Day. And we are always looking for more book reviewers! So please visit the Volunteering Village or get in touch with Sue Hawkins if you are interested.

This image shows the covers of the books we mentioned earlier.


To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

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The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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