Best Five Books about Disease

Sick children covid-19Childhood is a period of vulnerability and weakness. Children often get sick and visit the hospital or clinic. They tend to have some kind of fear about being sick and visiting the hospital. It will be beneficial for them to get familiar with health issues and get rid of their fear of the hospital.

Learning health issues became even more crucial since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Five books about disease are selected and introduced herein. I hope these books are beneficial for our children, like Best Five books about hygiene.  



(Author & Illustrator: Ludwig Bemelmans, Age range: 3~7 years)


In an old house in Paris, there lived 12 little girls with Miss. Clavel (probably, a nun). They did a lot of things together, such as having meals, brushing teeth, sleeping, smiling at the good, frowning at the bad, etc. Among 12 girls, Madeline was the smallest one. She was not afraid of either mice or a tiger. And, she loved winter.   

One night, Miss. Clavel found that Little Madeline was crying in her bed. Dr. Cohn came to check Madeline and found that she had a problem with her appendix. Madeline was taken to a hospital by ambulance and stayed in the hospital for ten days. 

While Madeline stayed in the hospital, the 11 girls visited her with Miss. Clavel and loved the place where Madeline was staying. They also found that Madeline had a scar on her stomach from the surgery. 

After saying goodbye to Madeline, they came back to their orphanage. On that night, Miss. Clavel heard something from the girls’ room. She rushed there and found that all 11 girls were crying because they wanted to stay in the hospital by taking their appendix out like Madeline. Miss. Clavel soothed them. 


Madeline was written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans (1898~1962). Ludwig Bemelmans was born in Austria-Hungary, His father was a Belgian painter, and his mother was German. He lived in Germany with his mom when he was a student, but did not like the German-style discipline. He later emigrated to the United States. In the States, he was in the U.S. Army. Then, he worked as a painter/writer.  

Bemelmans used a pen, ink, and water-color until the early 1950s. Madeline, a classic picture book, was illustrated with these techniques. 

Madeline covered the unusual topic of orphans and orphanage. Our children can think about them. Caring and cute jealousy are described in this book, and there are occasional rhymes. 

Twelve little girls are in two straight lines a lot of times, and this scene reminds me of a military-like discipline. Considering that Bemelmans did not like German-style discipline, the continuous emphasis on two straight lines is a bit strange to me. 

The illustration shows the iconic scenes of Paris, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River. Madeline‘s rather abstract and unique illustration is impressive. I highly recommend this book to our children.  

In total, there are 7 Madeline series, as shown below. 

  • Madeline (1939)
  • Madeline’s Rescue (1953)
  • Madeline and the Bad Hat (1956) 
  • Madeline and the Gypsies (1959)
  • Madeline in London (1961)
  • Madeline’s Christmas (1985)
  • Madeline in America and AOther Holiday Takes (1999)

A sick day for Amos McGee

(Author: Philip C. Stead, Illustrator: Erin E. Stead, Age range: 2~6 years)


Amos McGee got up early in the morning every day. After having a tea and oatmeal for breakfast, he always went to the City Zoo for work by taking the #5 bus at 6 AM. 

Although he had a lot to do at the zoo, he visited and took care of his animal friends, such as the elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros, and owl, by spending time with them. 

One day, McGee felt sick and stayed at home. As he did not come to the zoo, all the animals waited for him and worried about him. Then, they visited Mr. McGee’s house by taking the #5 bus

All of them visited Mr. McGee’s home and took care of Mr. McGee. All the animals stayed there with Mr. McGee over the night and planned to go back to the zoo by bus the next morning.


A sick day for Amos McGee was authored by Philip C. Stead (1982~) and illustrated by Erin E. Stead (1982~). They have been married since 2005. 

Erin Stead showed a unique illustration style of woodblock technique and pencils. She won Caldecott Medal in 2011 for her illustration of A Sick Day for Amos McGee.  

This book delivers important messages for children: helping friends and showing consideration, such as letting the tortoise win in a race. 

hide and seekThe book’s content is amusing and heart-warming. The owl was afraid of darkness. It is funny considering that the owl is a nocturnal animal. The scene of playing hide and seek between Mr. McGee and the tortoise is also cute and funny. 


The book’s illustration is unique: blue, green, and yellow are emphasized, and only the main characters are painted with the above colors on most pages.

Going to the Doctor

(Author: Anne Civardi, Illustrator: Stephen Cartwright, Age range: 2~4 years)


One day, Jenny and his brother Jack felt sick, and the whole Jay family decided to see the doctor. Mr. Jay phoned the doctor for an appointment. The doctor examined Jack and Jenny as well as their young brother Joey.  

Jack had a sprained wrist, so his arm was put in a sling. Jenny had a chest infection, so a prescription was given to her. Then, Joey got his immunization. 

Afterward, they visited the pharmacy to get some medicine. When they got home, Jenny went to bed after taking her medicine. 


The book shows a typical procedure when our children get sick: making an appointment with the doctor, visiting the hospital, seeing a doctor, getting an immunization, and visiting the pharmacist with the prescription. By observing what three children went through, our children’s fear of going to hospital and seeing a doctor can be minimized.  

Learning some medical terminologies such as immunization and otoscope will be a bonus.  

Another fun of reading this book will be finding a duck which is hiding on every page.

Bear Feels Sick

(Author: Karma Wilson, Illustrator: Jane Chapman, Age range: 3~7 years)


On a windy day in Autumn, a bear felt sick and couldn’t sleep. Then, his friends, such as a mouse, hare, badger, gopher, raven, and mole, gathered to take care of him. All of them took care of the bear sincerely. Finally, the bear fell asleep. 

When the bear woke up, he felt much better. He was so happy and wanted to go outside to play with his friends. But, all the animal friends were sick. They were probably exhausted from taking care of the bear. The bear told his friends that he would take care of them.


Bear feels sick was written by Karma Wilson (1970~). Her first book, Bear Snores On, made on the bestseller list in New York Times. Since then, she has authored more books on bears such as Bear Wants MoreBear’s New FriendBear Feels Scared, and Bear Can’t Sleep. She has written more than 30 books in total. 

Bear Feels Sick is about helping friends, and returning the favor. The book teaches some valuable lessons such as friendship, caring for others, returning a favor, etc. 

Its detailed and colorful illustrations will be fun to watch for children. 


George catches a cold

(Author: Neville Astley, Illustrator: Eone, Age range: 3~5 years)

Geroge Catches a ColdPlot

Goerge and his brother Peppa played in the rain. Although their mom told them to wear rain clothes, George took off his rain hat while playing. 

When they came home, George caught a cold. Father told George to stay in bed to keep warm. Then, Dr. Brown Bear came home to check George and diagnosed that George had a cold and advised him to have warm milk.   

The next day, George got much better and went out on a sunny day. He was wearing a rain hat because he did not want to have a cold anymore. His family members laughed. He never went out in the rain without a rain hat since then.



Peppa Pig appears in the book. Peppa Pig is a female character created by Neville Astley for the children’s T.V. program in the U.K. Peppa Pig’s  main family members include George pig, Mummy Pig, and Daddy Pig.   

George Catches a Cold is a short story for young children. Probably, a lot of children had an experience of playing outside on a rainy day and catching a cold. This book will be a reminder of their experience or a precautionary measure. Lesson from this book: going out in the rain without a rain-hat or an umbrella is not a good idea.


4 thoughts on “Best Five Books about Disease”

  1. From the review and the pictures I think I would like to have “A sick day for Amos McGee” for my grandchildren (4 and 7). But I know I tend to choose what I like, which is often not what they like LOL. So if I would let them choose they would probably pick Peppa Pig, because they know that one.
    Lovely reviews and a good way to teach children all different kind of emotions and life occurances. Thanks!

    • I like your analysis. I will also choose “A sick day for Amos McGee” or “Madeline” because these books provide great lessons for our children with fancy illustrations. By the way, I forgot to mention in the article that both books have been selected as the “all-time best 100 children’s books” by Magazine Time. Thank you for your comment.

  2. Thank you so much for this excellent collection of reviews, Jason! I fully agree with you that it’s imperative that children learn about, and become comfortable with, the process of getting sick, being treated, and feeling better. As a child, I never feared going to the doctor or getting shots, as I knew that the doctor had my best interests at heart, cared about my health and well-being, and wanted to make sure that I felt better. However, I know that there are good and bad doctors in the world, so it’s important that we teach our children how a good doctor treats and cares for him/her. Great read! I have saved your site and will definitely share it with my friends and family. God bless you!

    • Thank you for your comment, C.N.
      Wow, how could you get rid of your fear of seeing a doctor or getting a shot when you were young?
      You were very mature, even as a child. 🙂
      I will be happy if our children have more confidence in doctors by reading these books. Their positive mindset will be beneficial in many ways when they grow up.
      Thank you for your comment.


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