child reading a book with adult

Children’s books about death

Posted by AK Lander | On October 23, 2018 10:18

We asked four family bereavement charities which books they’d recommend for helping your child come to terms with death and process their grief.

For children, the death of someone close can be difficult to process. From experiencing new emotions to understanding how and why the person died, children often need a little extra help in understanding grief.

A great way to help your child understand a recent death or prepare them for one is through reading. We asked four family bereavement charities which books they’d recommend for helping your child come to terms with death and dying.

Always and Forever, Alan Durrant

“This book tells a journey of grief and how it can be similar to the seasons, I personally as an adult relate to this book and my own journey of grief and how I have felt. Children love this book and it is an easy read.” – Alia Jones, Halo Children’s Foundation

“A lovely illustrated storybook. One of four animal friends dies and so everyone is really sad. They all find lovely ways to remember their friend and this helps them come to terms with his death.” – Nelson’s Journey

“Otter, Mole and Hare miss Fox when he falls ill and dies. They stay at home and don’t want to talk about him because it makes them sadder. Then Squirrel visits and reminds them of all the fun times they had together. They all find a way to remember Fox and get on with their lives. Colourful, detailed pictures in this book emphasise the importance of holding on to memories.” – Winston’s Wish

Missing Mummy: A book about bereavement, Rebecca Cobb

“A book sharing loss of a parent and how it can help to talk about loss and look back at memories.” - Alia Jones, Halo Children’s Foundation

“This book deals with the loss of a parent from a child’s point of view. Perfectly pitched text and evocative artwork explore the many emotions a bereaved child may experience, from anger to guilt and from sadness to bewilderment. And importantly, the book also focuses on the positive: the recognition that the child is still part of a family, and his memories of his mother are to be treasured.” – Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN)

Are You Sad, Little Bear?, Rachel Rivett

“Teaches children it is okay to say goodbye and let go. A similar book about seasons.” - Alia Jones, Halo Children’s Foundation

“Grandmother Bear has gone forever, and Little Bear is feeling sad. His mother wisely suggests that perhaps asking his woodland companions what saying goodbye means to them will help him understand his loss. This charmingly illustrated picture book helps young children in times of bereavement.” – Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN)

I Miss You: A First Look at Death, Pat Thomas

“A picture book that explores death, children’s feelings and opportunities to explore them.” - Alia Jones, Halo Children’s Foundation

“This is a good first information book to help you to talk about death and grief with clear explanations.” – Nelson’s Journey

“This bright and colourful picture book very simply talks about life and death. It briefly covers a range of issues such as why people die, how you may feel when someone dies and what happens afterwards.” – Winston’s Wish

No Matter What, Debi Gliori

“A rhyming story with large, bright pictures about Small, a young fox who is feeling cross because no one loves him. Large, then reassures him that she’ll love him no matter what. A fun and imaginative book that only briefly talks about death but would be useful to help support a young child through difficult times.” – Winston’s Wish

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death, Laurene Krasny Brown & Marc Brown

“A colourful information book to help children understand different aspects of life and death and causes of death. Includes lots of cartoon dinosaur pictures to give prompts for discussion.” – Nelson’s Journey

“This factual picture book uses cartoon dinosaurs to illustrate the text and comment on what is said. It is a bright and colourful book that explains death in a simple and unthreatening way. It covers many issues including ‘why does someone die?’, ‘feelings about death’ and ‘saying goodbye’. It would be an excellent resource for anyone caring for young children.” – Winston’s Wish

Badger’s Parting Gifts, Susan Varley

“A lovely illustrated storybook. When old badger dies, his friends think they will be sad forever, but they remember him and manage to come to terms with his death.” – Nelson’s Journey

“An excellent book. Enjoyable to read, but most useful as a tool to introduce young children to the idea of mortality. It will help to get across the notion that memories of shared times can keep someone alive.” – Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN)

“Badger is old and knows he is going to die soon. When he does, the other animals think they will be sad forever, but they begin to talk about the memories they have of the things Badger taught them and learn to cope with his death. A lovely picture book that emphasises the importance of remembering the person who has died.” – Winston’s Wish

Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?, Elke & Alex Barber

“This illustrated book explains sudden death in words young children can understand. Written by Elke, a young widow and her ten-year-old son Alex, this book aims to explore questions that children may have following a sudden death, such as ‘is Daddy coming back?’, ‘where is he?’ and ‘why couldn’t the ambulance people fix Daddy?’” – Nelson’s Journey

“When we were on a No Girls Allowed! holiday, my daddy’s heart stopped beating and I had to find help all by myself. He was very badly broken. Not even the ambulance people could help him…” This honest, sensitive and beautifully illustrated picture book is designed to help explain the concept of death to children.” – Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN)

The Lonely Tree, Nicholas Halliday

“This beautiful and moving storybook follows the first year in the life of a lone evergreen tree, growing in an ancient oak woodland. During this year, the little tree experiences not only the joy of his first friendship with a giant Oak tree but also, the death of this old friend. As the seasons pass, he learns that death is a natural part of living in the forest and that we are all part of the never-ending cycle of life. This book can be particularly useful when a child experiences the death of an older person in their life.” – Nelson’s Journey

“The Lonely Tree is a charmingly illustrated picture book which will help children and their families in times of loss or change with the gentle reassurance that saying goodbye is a natural part of life.” – Winston’s Wish

What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?, Trevor Romain

“This is a really good information book that covers a wide range of issues surrounding death including cremation, funerals and rituals. It also offers practical suggestions to children to help cope with their feelings.” – Nelson’s Journey

“This book for older children is a factual guide, answering questions such as ‘why do people have to die?’, ‘is it okay to cry?’ and ‘what is a funeral/memorial service?’ It is written in a straightforward way, with practical tips, advice and information about different faiths and beliefs.” – Winston’s Wish

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