By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Apr 03, 2006 at 5:23 AM

Sure, parents want to keep their kids inside "the bubble" as long as possible, but eventually, reality seeps through the thin, transparent surface, and we are forced to deal with yucky issues. Or, in an effort to keep our kids safe, we proactively address potential hazards.

And since kids still don't come with instructions, and not everyone is as thoughtful and articulate as Whitman or Angelou, it's helpful to have someone -- or something -- to help us talk about issues that are down-right uncomfortable in a way that's healthy and age-appropriate. Not just sex, but a myriad of life's ugly baggage, including death, divorce, racism and more.

Myra Poe, a children's bookseller at the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop on Downer Avenue, has a plethora of potential good reads for kids -- and their parents -- to discuss difficult situations and to encourage ongoing dialogues.

"In the not-too-distant past, it was rather difficult to find books on the more nuanced topics children of all ages have to deal with. Fortunately, there is now a wide variety of books from which to choose," says Poe.

Amy Daroszeski, co-owner of Bay View's Broad Vocabulary, also has suggestions for kids' books addressing unconventional families and gender, and through our own research, we found a bevy of books on a few subjects as well.

Hey, we all want the conversations we have with our kids to revolve around puppets, princesses and pick-ups, but this life thing keeps getting in the way.

Poe's picks for childrens' books on difficult subjects:

Death (ages three to eight)

"Cat Heaven and Dog Heaven," by Cynthia Rylant

"Tear Soup," by Pat Schweibert

"Jellybeans," by Sylvia Van Ommen

"When Goodbye is Forever," by Lois Rock

Family illness

"My Gran's Different," by Sue Lawson

"I'm a Superhero," by Daxton Wilde


"I'm SO Mad!," by Robie Harris

"When Someone is Afraid," by Valerie Gorbachev

"When I Feel Jealous/Afraid/Mad/Sad/Scared," by Cornelia Maud Spelman

"Stormy Night," by Michelle Lemieux

Daroszeski's picks:

Uncoventional/homosexual families (ages six and up)

"One dad, two dads, brown dad, blue dads," by Johnny Valentine


"Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls," by J. T. Bunnell

Race/African pride:

"Happy to be nappy," by Bell Hooks

OMC's picks for books about sex (ages four and up):

"First comes love: All about the birds and the bees - and alligators and possums and people, too," by Jennifer Davis.

"Where Did I come from?" by Peter Mayle.

OMC's picks for books about divorce (ages three and up):

"The divorce helpbook for kids," by Cynthia Macgregor

"Dinosaurs Divorce," by Marc Brown

"Was it the chocolate pudding? A story for little kids about divorce," by Sandra levins

"Goodbye daddy!," by A. Marcs

OMC's picks for books about adoption and special needs:

"It's okay to be different," by Todd Parr (adoption and special needs)

"Over the moon: An adoption tale," by Karen Katz (adoption)

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.