Congenital heart defects: books for children

One of the challenges that I will face as Jessica gets older is trying to explain her heart condition to her. Having some children’s books about CHD will help us explain why she has a zipper scar on her chest and needs to go into hospital for surgery and other procedures. Trying to find children’s books about CHD isn’t always easy though. Here are some of the books that we have found:


Congenital heart defects: books for children - Little Hearts, Big Love


Zip-Line – David Humpherys

Zip-Line is a book aimed at young children asking about their ‘zipper’ scar and how it got there. Written in rhyme and beautifully illustrated, this book encourages children to view their scar in a positive light. It tells them that their scar is their “trophy for being strong and brave.”  Heart surgery and recovery are mentioned briefly in a very matter-of-fact way. It is ideal for young children, particularly preschool and infant school children who may be asking questions about why they are different.



Patch the Brave Heart Lion – Natalie Halls-Jones & Karen Horsell

Another book that would be ideal for preschool and infant school-age children. This book explores the day-to-day challenges of living with a CHD, such as tiring easily, feeling unable to join in things and just feeling different. Patch is a lion cub with a patched-up heart. He feels that he isn’t very brave or special because he can’t do a lot of the things his family do. His family then point out all the things that have made him brave and special. They show him how his zipper scar is a reminder of those things. It’s a story that I think small children will love. It is beautifully illustrated and addresses the challenges of life with a CHD in a positive, encouraging way.



The Big-Hearted Book – Nicholas Allan

The Big-Hearted Book tells the story of best friends Babette and Bill who were joined by a ribbon of hearts until one day it was broken. Babette is suddenly too tired to play with Bill, or run races, or read stories. Then one day she goes away. Bill later finds out that his friend had been ill and that her heart had been mended. As it gets stronger, the ribbon of hearts between them connects them again. It’s a story that would be suitable for pre-school and primary school age children. The focus is more on the challenges of living with CHD and hospital is only mentioned briefly. It would be ideal for a child who has a friend with CHD.



Born with a Broken Heart – Rick & Annette Gallegos

This is a much more personal story. Born with a Broken Heart tells the story of Alex, a boy born with a CHD, from the perspective of his sister. It is more suitable for primary school age children rather than pre-schoolers. There is much more detail about hospital life and the challenges of life with a CHD. Sadly, Alex dies shortly after his second birthday. The story ends with Alex’s mom and dad reminding his sister that it is good to talk about him and remember him.


This is a book that I feel would be more appropriate for children who have lost a sibling to CHD. It talks about God and Alex being “happy in heaven”. I would not recommend this book if you are not comfortable with this.


Have you read any other children’s books about CHD that have been helpful?

16 thoughts on “Congenital heart defects: books for children

  1. this is such a wonderful idea to have a variety of books for “zipper” little dudes. What a lovely idea!! xx

    1. It is a good idea – the books are great for helping children understand more

    1. My little one loves some of these – not sure she understands yet but she likes the stories.

    1. They are lovely books – brilliant for helping children understand more x

    1. Yes, it’s good that there are a few although did take a little digging on my part to find several different ones!

  2. Great list of books! I’m pinning them for later in our book reading lists, to help me teach compassion with the children. #letkidsbekids

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