Prepare your child for her upcoming surgery and read books about the subject.

Books for Toddlers About Surgery

by Lucie Westminster

While it's unpleasant to think about your toddler undergoing surgery, if he needs it, then the situation is unavoidable. It's important to prepare your little one as best as possible for the procedure. Since he hasn't graduated from medical school just yet, you need to explain to him what is about to happen. One way of introducing your tot to the idea of having surgery is to sit down with him and read a variety of books about the topic.

Benefit of Reading Before Surgery

To avoid chasing after your toddler as she tries to escape the hospital, it's important to employ all methods possible to prepare her. Reading a picture book with your little one introduces her to a sensitive topic in a way she can relate to and understand. Selecting a simple book that explains the various stages of surgery, medical personnel she'll encounter and the hospital stay afterwards helps her know what to expect on the days surrounding her experience. A child who knows what to expect is less likely to be fearful and less likely to scream and cry as she is wheeled to the operating room.

Books About Pre-Surgical Procedures

There are likely a number of tests your child will need before his surgery. While he may not need surgery for a crack in his shell, Franklin the turtle does. In the book, "Franklin Goes to the Hospital" by Sharon Jennings, Franklin heads to the hospital and prepares for a minor shell-repair surgery. The kid-friendly illustrations and storyline explain typical pre-surgical procedures like getting an ID bracelet and an IV, both of which your child will need for his own surgery. Anne Civardi and Michelle Bates' "Going to the Hospital" follows a boy who needs an ear operation. Parts of the process are highlighted, including pre-surgical procedures like taking your child's temperature. While your youngster might not jump for joy the morning of surgery, at least he will be prepared.

Books About the Day of Surgery

The day of surgery will likely leave your toddler scared and confused. In "Curious George Goes to the Hospital," by H.A. Rey, the famous monkey accidentally swallows a puzzle piece and needs to have simple surgery to remove it. The book outlines what your child will experience throughout the surgical process but highlights the day of surgery to give your toddler an idea of what to expect for her own big day. If you are looking for a book that shows actual photographs of IV poles and hospital rooms, read Fred Rogers' "Going to the Hospital." The book shows photos of the doctors and nurses wearing surgical masks, which could scare a child if she wasn't aware of this beforehand.

Books Dealing With Kid's Fears

Surgery is scary, no matter if you are an adult or a toddler. The familiar faces of "Sesame Street" are the perfect characters to help introduce the idea of surgery to your toddler. In "A Visit to the Sesame Street Hospital," by Deborah Hautzig, Grover needs to have his tonsils removed. The doctors remind him that his mom can stay in his room, so this will reassure your child you will be there even if he has to stay overnight. "Big Operation" by Richard Scarry helps put your little one's fears to ease, especially in relation to the big scary person in the white coat. Huckel needs to have his tonsils out, but the story places Dr. Lion in such a positive light, it might even make your kiddo excited about his upcoming surgery and meeting his surgeon.


  • Franklin Goes to the Hospital; Sharon Jennings
  • Curious George Goes to the Hospital; Margaret and H. A. Rey
  • A Visit to the Sesame Street Hospital; Deborah Hautzig
  • Going to the Hospital; Fred Rogers
  • Young Children and Picture Books (Second Edition); Mary Renck Jalongo
  • A Big Operation; Richard Scarry
  • Going to the Hospital; Anne Civardi and Michelle Bates

About the Author

Based in Texas, Lucie Westminster has been a writer and researcher since 1975. Her work has been published in journals such as "Psychological Reports" and "Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior." Westminster's interests include developmental psychology, children, pets and crafting. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University.

Photo Credits

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