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Many families with kids with special needs visit the hospital regularly. They know the best way to get to the parking deck. They know many nurses by name. They compile a backup list of ideas to help settle their child for blood work or other tests. (And they also know that, some days, none of those ideas will work!)
Whether it’s a first visit to a hospital or a fourteenth, keeping kids in a hospital bed can provide a challenge — especially for sensory seekers! For our preschooler, we take toys, homemade playdough, stickers, and — of course — books!
Some of the books below discuss hospital visits. Others in the list are just plain fun to read when you’re bed-ridden. After each book’s title, you’ll see reasons to take it with you to the hospital.
7 Books to Carry on Hospital Trips
Going to the Hospital (a Mr. Rogers book) by Fred Rogers (Puffin, 1997) – The photos in this book are quite outdated, but the text itself is still helpful in Mr. Rogers’s reassuring tone. Young kids likely won’t mind the old photos as much and might appreciate the feelings shared in a safe read to explore.
This is a Hospital, Not a Zoo! by Roberta Karim, illustrated by Sue Truesdell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002) – Though I can’t suggest this book for first-time hospital goers due to its, ahem, rambunctious nature, this book can be a fun, silly read for frequent hospital patrons who need a laugh.
Animal Hospital by Judith Walker-Hodge (DK Publishing, 2013) – While this book focuses on animals, my kids love reading about something happening to animals that’s similar to what happens with people.
Different from other straight-forward nonfiction early readers, this book is told in story form while still retaining a clear and detailed presentation of information. Two boys find a duck and take it to their local animal hospital. They then get to shadow the vet and learn about basic veterinary care for ducks, cats, rabbits, dogs, and more.
Tubes in My Ears: My Trip to the Hospital by Virginia Dooley, illustrated by Miriam Katin (Mondo Pub, 1996) – This book follows a child getting tubes in his ears. Each component of arriving at the hospital and getting ready for surgery is addressed in a calm manner. His hospital trip is only for a day, so this book won’t explain as much about what happens if your child has to stay overnight, but it does give one perspective without being scary.
Heads up: Some reviewers dislike that this book discusses IVs and the child gets sick once. In our experience in hospitals, IVs are very common. This book introduces it calmly. However, if you know your child does not need an IV and talking about it would scare him/her, you may want to skip this book.
Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (Viking, 2013) – I’ve shared about this book multiple times. It’s just such a good read. It’s fun (great for when you need some cheering up). It allows for pretend play (have a pretend tea party in the hospital bed!). It reminds us all of the give-and-take of friendship (a good reminder anytime). The book became an instant favorite in our house (really…from the day we got it).
Press Here by Herve Tullet (Chronicle Books, 2011) – This book’s interactive nature makes it a good choice for a hospital stay. The interactive parts don’t require up-and-down, get-out-of-bed movement, but still remain very inclusive and fun. Every page asks the reader to complete an action to cause the event on the next page. This book has great re-read value.
The Library Adventure writer Lisa also reviewed this book, you can read her review for more.
Ish by Peter Reynolds (Candlewick, 2004) – Oh, this book. It’s so beautiful and inspiring. Ramon’s story reminds us that we each have unique talents and perspectives to bring to our art, whatever that art is. Take this book (and The Dot, also by Peter Reynolds) with you to the hospital, and you and your child can inspire each other with your own in-bed art, crafts, drawings, and writings.
What books (either about hospitals or just for fun) does your child take for hospital visits?