From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Your Child About Addiction

These resources will help you broach this serious topic with your kid.

Apr 01, 2022



From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Your Child About Addiction

Apr 01, 2022

Addiction is more common than most of us think. It can be confusing, even scary, for children to witness. When addiction hits home, it can make life unpredictable and isolating. However, there are ways to educate children about addiction — regularly — so that you and they feel comfortable talking about it when someone needs to.

Whichever avenue you choose for broaching the topic — whether it be genetic risk, usage of over-the-counter medications, or peer pressure — you should be honest and frank about the dangers in an age-appropriate way. What is your family’s stance on substance use and level of tolerance? Children may not grasp the sweeping impact of addiction until they're a little older, but they understand a zero-tolerance policy.

Above all, you want the outcome of any conversation about addiction to be that your child feels loved and protected, and that they are not the cause of the problem. The articles and books below serve as great conversation starters about addiction with your child.

For its 100th anniversary, Scholastic spoke with experts to identify a set of tips, articles, and books that make starting a conversation with your child about addiction easier. These resources are part of a broader initiative, called the Scholastic Bookshelf, created for Instagram to raise awareness around contemporary issues affecting children today.

For more quick tips and book recommendations, sign up for our Scholastic Parents newsletter! 

Articles About Addiction

The opioid epidemic that has ravaged parts of the United States is the topic of “My Mother Is an Addict” in the New York Times Upfront, a Scholastic publication. Opening with the story of Ohio teen Layla Kegg, whose mother is an addict, this article sheds light on the nearly 400,000 people who have succumbed to opioid use since the introduction of the painkiller OxyContin. The collateral damage is a generation growing up amid the fallout — many without parents. They’re called Generation O. 

In “What Juul’s Hiding” in Scholastic Choices magazine, readers get a brief history of Big Tobacco, right up to present day with Juul Labs, maker of what they've called “the iPhone of vape pens.” While Juul’s marketing practices have purportedly aimed to steer teens away from nicotine use, a congressional investigation concluded the opposite: that the company's "healthy lifestyle" programs actually “deliberately targeted children in order to become the nation’s largest seller of e-cigarettes.” 

Interviews with several teens on how and why they began vaping make this article a useful reference point for conversations with your child.

Fiction Books About Addiction

When it comes to independent reading, children look for characters that make them feel seen. These books, featuring characters experiencing addiction firsthand, offer relatable stories that can comfort and offer context for in-person conversations afterward. Read them together and discuss how they made your child feel.

Sunny Side Up and its sequel, Swing It, Sunny, follow the lives of kids whose older brother's delinquent behavior has thrown their family into chaos. This compelling story is written by a sister-brother team in graphic novel format — perfect for children who loved Raina Telgemeier's Smile.

Hey, Kiddo, by Jarrett Krosoczka, is a moving memoir that makes clear just how much the impact of a parent’s addiction can be felt across a child’s life. Even though Krosoczka understands in kindergarten that his family is not just the mommy-and-daddy-unit his teacher asks him to draw, only in his teens will he begin to piece together the truth — including reckoning with his addict mother and tracking down his father.

Also for older readers is Recovery Road, a novel centered around teen addict Madeleine and her time at Spring Meadows rehab center, where she grapples to overcome her dependence on alcohol and drugs — and make a meaningful human connection. A sometimes-gritty read about the aftermath of addiction and the realities of healing, Recovery Road reminds readers that they are loved, no matter what.

Be sure to visit the Scholastic Bookshelf for more resources on addiction. If you’re planning to talk with your child about other complex topics and seek tips or book recommendations, we invite you to visit our Tough Topics hub. You’ll find a wealth of advice from Scholastic editors to help you navigate challenging conversations thoughtfully. Recent topic additions include:

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