Resources for Families Experiencing Separation, Loss or Deployment

A list of books and resources to help guide families through separation, loss or deployment. Age groups are also indicated to help you find the correct resource for your children.

Thanks to the Service Pupil Advisor in Argyll & Bute Council for compiling the list of resources


Resources for pupils and families experiencing separation, loss or deployment.

Countdown ‘Til Daddy Comes Home 

By Kristin Ayyar
(For ages 4-7 years) 

This book is a story of a young boy waiting for his daddy to come home from a trip. To make their separation easier, his family creates rituals to stay connected and make the countdown fly by. A perfect book for military kids who have a parent deployed or kids who have a parent that is a frequent business traveller. After reading this warmly illustrated story you will find ideas on various ways to countdown till your daddy comes home and discussion questions to set expectations and alleviate any fears your child may have because of their parent’s deployment or trip.

Cover: Countdown 'Til Daddy Comes Home

I Miss You

By Beth Andrews
(For ages 2-5 years) 

This book is designed to help children especially, but also their parents, during such difficult times. Based on many years of experiences as a social worker, who has assisted military families experiencing stress, author Bet Andrews has created an excellent tool for allowing children and their loved ones to deal with the many emotions caused by deployment. The text and illustrations encourage children to discuss their feelings and to draw their own pictures to express themselves.

Cover: I Miss You! A Military Kid's book about Deployment

My Daddy’s Going Away

By Christopher MacGregor and Emma Yarlett
(For ages 3-5 years) 

Written by Lieutenant Colonel Christopher MacGregor and based on his own experiences of going away from home, this comforting, wise book helps to explain why parents sometimes have to go away and shows ways to help children cope.

Cover: My Daddy's Going Away

A Parent in the Armed Forces: Come Home Soon

By Pat Thomas
(For ages 6-11 years) 

This reassuring picture book explores the issue of a parent working away from home in the armed forces. Young children can learn how to deal with feelings of worry, change at home, keeping in touch and looking forward to their return. Children’s feeling and questions are looked at in a simple realistic way.

Cover: A Parent in the Armed Forces

The Fathers are Coming Home

By Margaret Wise Brown and Stephen Savage
(For ages 2-5 years) 

“It is night time and the fathers are coming home.” So begins this lyrical tribute to all the fathers everywhere who come home to their children–from the rabbit father who hops home to his little bunnies, to the dog father who comes home to his puppies. A never-before published work from one of children’s literature’s greatest writers and masterfully illustrated by a New York Times bestselling artist, this poignant story concludes with a young boy whose father is a sailor coming home from the sea to his son.

Cover: The Fathers are Coming Home

My Dad is Going Away But he will be back one day! 

By James R. Thomas
(For ages 5-6 years) 

Military families spend time apart while serving their country, with one or more parents deployed. This beautifully illustrated children’s picture book helps explain to the child how life will continue while the parent is away and how to communicate over the distance until the day they reunite. The story and art enables each child to interact with the deployed parent by talking about ways to keep in touch, so they can emulate. At the end, two cutout pages allow the child to write a letter and draw a picture for their deployed parent.

Cover: My Dad is Going Away but He Will be Back One Day!

My Father’s Shirt

By Sally Huss
(For ages 3-6 years) 

Many children experience the loneliness created by military separation. The little boy in this story is such a child who describes his struggle with sadness when his father is deployed. But, he has a wise and creative father who knows how to turn his son’s unhappiness into an opportunity for growth, with the help of his favourite shirt. Touching story.

Cover: My Father's Shirt

Mummy’s Home

By Christopher MacGregor
(For ages 3-5 years) 

Written by Lieutenant Colonel Christopher this book helps to explain why parents sometimes have to go away and shows ways to help children cope. A soothing read-aloud with lots to explore in the pictures. The parents in the book are a heterosexual couple.

Cover: Mummy's Home

Mummy Goes to Work 

By Kes Gray and David Milgrim
(For ages 6-11 years) 

My mummy goes to work but I know she still loves me and cares about me. How do I know? Because my mummy comes home from work and tells me she loves me SO MUCH! A delightful and contemporary book that will reassure parent and child alike that all is well when a parent goes to work. Simple text.

Cover: Mummy Goes to Work

Lily Hates Goodbyes

By Jerilyn Marler
(For ages 2-7 years) 

This heartwarming and inspiring storybook helps children ages 2-7 thrive despite a parent’s lengthy absence. Lily’s daddy is deployed for about a billion days. She feels angry, sad, stubborn, and naughty. Her mommy helps Lily understand her emotions and cope with them in healthy ways. With her mommy’s steadfast love, Lily finds ways to be happy despite the separating miles; she bikes and swings and plays the piano. She collects mementos in a Memories for Daddy box and adds stickers to a calendar to help count down the days to daddy’s return. When the big day finally, finally arrives, she jumps joyfully into her daddy’s arms. Lily loves hellos!

Cover: Lily Hates Goodbyes

Sometimes We Were Brave

By Pat Brisson
(For ages 5-7 years) 

Pat Brisson’s endearing story, shows how a navy family adjusts to life while mom is serving at sea. Jerome’s mom is a sailor. When her ship is in home port, she and Jerome bake cookies, read books together, and take their dog, Duffy for walks. When his mom’s ship goes to sea she gives Jermone a hug and says “Be Brave, Jerome, ill be back as soon as I can”.

Cover: Sometimes We Were Brave

The Invisible String

By Patrice Karst and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
(For ages 4-8 years) 

This book is a heartwarming story that reassures children that even though they can’t always be with a loved one, they’re always in each other’s hearts. Whenever a child thinks about a family member, THE INVISIBLE STRING gives a tug. This book is an excellent way to begin the conversation about death. The gentle story illustrates that we are still connected by love even after someone passes.

Cover: The Invisible String

The Huge Bag of Worries

By Virginia Ironside and Frank Rodgers
(For ages 3-8 years) 

Wherever Jenny goes, her worries follow her – in a big blue bag. They are there when she goes swimming, when she is watching TV, and even when she is in the lavatory. Jenny decides they will have to go. But who can help her?

Cover: The Huge Bag of Worries

Sometimes, My Daddy’s Gone Away with Work

By Clare Shaw
(For ages 7+) 

In August 2016, my husband got deployed overseas for six months and along came Sometimes. It almost happened by accident really and I’d never expected to publish. I wrote it more as a personal exercise to help my own children but decided to show a few people. They loved it and it snowballed from there.

Cover: Sometimes, My Daddy's Gone Away With Work

What will I Play while you are Away

By James R. Thomas
(For ages 5-6 years) 

There are lots of things to do, while having fun too as each child will discover in this story! With parents being away from home for many reasons to include business travel, short trips, and military deployments, this book gives a child some fun ideas of what to play while the parent is away. Through the use of rhymes, the story flows effortlessly, giving each child a sense of personal involvement, adventure, and emotional reassurance.

Cover: What Will I Play While You Are Away?

My Dad’s Deployment Activity Book

By Julie LaBelle
(For ages 3-11 years) 

This 112 page activity book features mazes, dot to dot, counting, matching, colouring, and other activities familiar to preschool and early school children. Shown within the context of common deployment and reunion topics, the activities reinforce concepts young children are already learning and offer children the opportunity to ask questions, talk about their feelings, and feel connected to their deployed parent.

Cover: My Dad's Deployment Activity Book

My Red Balloon

By Eve Bunting and Kay Life
(For ages 5-7 years) 

The boy has been waiting for this day for many months. It’s the day his daddy comes home from overseas. He jumps out of bed and gets ready for the big event. But before going downstairs for breakfast, he takes along something very important: his red balloon. There will be many families and loved ones at the pier. The red balloon will help his father find him among the crowd. But as the ship approaches, the boy loses his grip on the red balloon. Will his daddy find him in the crowd?

Cover: My Red Balloon

100 Days and 99 Nights

By Alan Madison
(For ages 9-11 years) 

Dad says because of the army he stood shoulder to shoulder with polar bears and watched the sun rise over the frozen fields of Alaska, which sounds really exciting. And because of the Army he slept in sludge, shoulder to shoulder with snakes and watched the sun set over the swamps of Alabama — which does not. In a timely, but not politically charged way, author Alan Madison looks at the way a family copes with having a parent away on a 100 day, 99 night military tour of duty through the eyes of the very loveable Esmerelda (Esme) Swishback McCarthur. Esme wants to be good while her dad is away. In fact, she feels like it’s her duty to be good. But being good can be hard, especially if you have a little brother like Ike. By following Esme’s story

Cover: 100 Days and 99 Nights

Zoe and the Time Rabbit

By Sarah McMenemy
(For young children) 

To request a free copy of Zoe and the Time Rabbit email

That’s why we commissioned Zoe and the Time Rabbit – an original work of children’s literature written and illustrated for The RNRM Children’s Fund by Sarah McMenemy. The story follows Zoe and her emotions when her father has to go away and the help she gets from a magical time rabbit. The book is intended to help any family where a parental figure might be away for an extended period.

Cover: Zoe and the Time Rabbit

Naval Families Federation – The Experience of Parental Absence in Royal Navy and Royal Marines Families

(For ages 3-11 years) 

Being a parent and raising children is exciting and rewarding, but it can be tough at times for any family. The amount, patterns and types of parental absence faced by Naval Service families present additional challenges that are not routinely experienced by most civilian families.

Cover: My Dad's Deployment Activity Book

Dinosaurs Divorce

By Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
(For ages 4-7 years) 

A comprehensive, sensitive guide for changing families, dinosaurs divorce helps readers understand what divorce means, why it happens, and how to best cope with everyone’s feelings.

Cover: Dinosaurs Divorce

Two Homes

By Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton
(For ages 5-7 years) 

In this award-winning picture book classic about divorce, Alex has two homes – a home where Daddy lives and a home where Mummy lives. Alex has two front doors, two bedrooms and two very different favourite chairs. He has a toothbrush at Mummy’s and a toothbrush at Daddy’s. But whether Alex is with Mummy or Daddy, one thing stays the same: Alex is loved by them both – always. This gently reassuring story focuses on what is gained rather than what is lost when parents divorce, while the sensitive illustrations, depicting two unique homes in all their small details, firmly establish Alex’s place in both of them. Two Homes will help children – and parents – embrace even the most difficult of changes with an open and optimistic heart.

Cover: Two Homes

A First Look At: Family Break-Up: My Family’s Changing

By Pat Thomas and Lesley Harker
(For ages 6-8 years) 

A beautifully illustrated picture book to support children through divorce or separation. The fears, worries and questions surrounding this difficult experience are made accessible and approachable. Notes for parents and teachers at the back of the book provide valuable advice for how to share this book with your child or class.

Cover: My Family's Changing

Living with Mum and Living with Dad

By Melanie Walsh
(For ages 3-5 years) 

Mum and Dad don’t live together any more, so sometimes this little girl lives with her mum and her cat, and sometimes she lives with her dad. She has two bedrooms and two sets of toys, but she takes her favourite toys with her wherever she goes. This simple, warm, lift-the-flap book with bold and colourful illustrations is a reassuring representation of separation for the youngest children. Melanie Walsh is sympathetically alive to the changes in routine that are familiar to many children who live with separate parents and are loved by both.

Cover: Living With Mum and Living With Dad

My Tree Has Two Branches

Written by Mélanie J Bernier, Illustrated by Rosalia Destarisa
(For ages 3-10 years) 

Meet Alex! His Dad lives in one home, and his Mom in another. Alex will show you all the perks that come with sharing your time between two homes with different rules, things and family members. Living in two homes can be more work, but the love both sides of the family have for Alex is all that matters – after all, you can never be loved by too many people!

My Tree Has Two Branches promotes respect and love for one’s unique family in addition to illustrating healthy boundaries for young readers in parallel or co-parenting situations. Whether your child shares his or her time between two single parents, two blended or stepfamilies or a combination of both, this book will help shed positive light on a topic that affects so many children today.

Cover: My Tree Has Two Branches