Have you ever looked up a recipe to make a dish that you weren’t confident trying on your own? Have you ever referenced a familiar prayer or quote in a time of need? Or maybe, you’ve picked up the latest get fit fast book to get in shape. We all turn to books to solve different problems in our life. Books for kids are no exception. We can use books to help kids navigate tough situations. Today, that tough situation is death and grief.
Books for Kids on Death and Grief
Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Some books were sent for me to review. All opinions expressed are my own.
General Books About Death
Always Remember by Meng is the story of sea friends who remember Old Turtle who has passed away.
My Yellow Balloon by Tiffany Papageorge is a beautifully illustrated book about a boy who gets a yellow balloon at a carnival. One day the balloon slips off his wrist and drifts away. Joey feels angry, confused, and sad as he tries to process his loss. As time passes he transitions from feeling sad most of the time to just some of the time.
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia is a classic story to help kids process death. It uses the life cycle of a leaf to explain the process of life.
For a little more of a concrete story example of the leaf life cycle, check out Buddy and Bea by Len Saunders. It is the tale of a leaf, a bird, and the circle of life. Bea the bird watches her leaf friend emerge as a bud and live until it’s time for him to fall from the tree.
The Invisible String by Patrice Garst is a reassuring book that helps to explain that even though we aren’t physically with someone, we are connected by an invisible string. There is a one-page spread that does address the invisible string reaching all the way to heaven.
The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr can help even our youngest ones address all the feelings that come along with saying goodbye.
It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst shows kids that they can always turn to God in a tough situation like death.
Death of a Grandparent
My Superhero Grandpa by Michele McAvoy helps kids visualize that even though Grandpa is in Heaven, he can still share his superpowers with us.
Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs is written by the very talented Tomie DePaola. “She will come back in your memory whenever you think about her.” is the gentle message kids will take away from the book.
Grandpa’s Storiesby Joseph Coelho is the story of a little girl remembering the things she did with her grandfather through the seasons.
A beautiful book to read is Saturdays are for Stella by Candy Wellins. George loves spending Saturdays with his Grandma. But, then his Grandma passes away and Saturdays just don’t feel the same. But, through his mourning, there is joy when a new addition arrives in the family.
When Grandfather Flew by Patricia MacLachlan is the story of a loving grandfather and his grandson and their bond over bird watching. When the grandfather passes, the grandson feels a connection to his grandfather when he sees an eagle soaring through the sky.
Dadaji’s Paintbrush by Rashmi Sirdeshpande is a gentle story of the love between grandfather and son. After Dadaji’s death, painting no longer interests his grandson. But, after some time and a spark of interest, the grandson is able to look at Dadaji’s paintings again and pick up the paintbrush himself.
Granny Left Me a Rocket Ship by Heather Smith and Ashley Barron works well for young children. In the story, we see that a child is left with wonderful memories of playing and spending time with his Granny.
Remembering Sundays with Grandpa by Lauren H. Kerstein is the story of a child missing his grandfather who recently passed. Mom and child look for things that spark memories of Grandpa and share those memories with each other. They also start a weekly ritual that will remind them each week about Grandpa.
Death of a Parent
Emily Lost Someone She Loved by Kathleen Fucci is the story of a very happy girl until one day when everything changes. She loses a loved one (her mom) and then that happy-go-lucky girl feels lost and questioning where God is in her life. Her supportive family helps her grieve and turn to God for support.
Grief is Like a Snowflake by Julia Cook helps to process the loss of a father. The book is very reassuring for little ones.
Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Lucile Clifton also address the death of a father. Everett experiences several stages of grief in the story.
For the loss of mom, check out Missing Mommy by Rebecca Cobb.
Death of a Friend or Other Loved One
Sometimes tools and objects can help us process the tough things in this life. Cape by Kevin Johnson . In this story, a young child dons a cape to help transform and find the strength to protect oneself during a time of grief after losing a loved one. Turns out this tool can also bring a flood of healing too. Cape by Kevin Johnson is a great book for helping children deal with sadness in their lives too after losing someone they love.
Ida, Always by Caron Levis is a heart-breaking and heart-warming story of two polar bear friends. Gus learns that Ida is sick. After she passes, Gus realizes that she may be gone, but not forgotten. It’s one of my favorites on the list.
Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories by Audrey Penn tells us about the loss of a friend and how we can take our memories of our friends to help us get through the grief.
Death of a Sibling
This is a super tough topic to help kids process. I put together a special list with age recommendations for this section.—>Death of a Sibling Books
Death of a Pet
Processing grief takes time. Matthew Cordell’s book, Bear Island, takes us through a walk in nature to process that loss and hope for the future. Louise adventures to an island near her home after the death of her dog, Charlie where she meets different animals including a bear that help her process her loss.
The Rough Patch by Brain Lies is the story of a human-like fox and his dog. They spend all their time together and are so happy especially tending the garden. But, one day his dog passes away and the fox lets the garden turn to weeds. Then one day, he notices a vine in the weeds and his sorrow starts to fade. A great book for processing grief.
I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wihelm is the story of a family that wakes up one morning to find that their beloved dog has passed away.
The End of Something Wonderful by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a how-to guide for putting on a backyard funeral no matter if the child has lost a pet fish or guinea pig. The story is told with practicality as well as a sensitive and bit humorous touch. A great pick for a child who has lost a pet.
A young child processes the recent loss of his dog while his family prepares la ofrenda in preparation of Dia de los Muertos in An Ofrenda for Perro by Judith Valdés.
It’s a list I hope we don’t need anytime soon. But, it’s helpful to know that it exists when that time comes. Turn to one of these books the next your child is grieving the loss of someone important to her.
Printable List of Books About Death and Grief
This is one list you will want to hold onto for future reference.
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This post first appeared on Growing Book by Book on 9/26/16 and has now been updated.