Recommended Books about Death or Grief & Loss
Always & Forever, by Alan Durant, is reviewed in detail here. It is one of my favorite books about grief for kids. Highly recommended.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn isn’t about grief or loss, but it is a book about how hard it is to separate or say goodbye. That’s certainly a related theme when we are talking about grief with children. The main character is a raccoon who is about to start school. He’s sad and worried about leaving his mother–who teaches him a sweet, nurturing trick for self-soothing. I’ve known families that adopted the trick for themselves after reading the book. Very sweet.
The Bug Cemetery, by Frances Hill is about a group of entrepreneurial kids who stumble upon the ‘business’ of funerals. The brother and sister pair offer “bug funerals,” complete with fake mourners, eulogies, and tombstones for 10 cents. But, when their friend’s pet cat is killed, they realize that “Funerals aren’t any fun when they’re for someone you love.” The illustrator does a great job of conveying sadness, even anguish, in the children’s faces during the real funeral.
I like that this book illustrates that we can pretend to have a feeling, but that it isn’t the same as the real feeling at all. Very young children often “pretend” to mourn a relative who died before they were born–and that’s normal–but I like having a tool to show the difference. I also like the way the book shows kids ways that they can cope with death and loss–the children in the book honor their feelings and also honor the dead.
When Dinosaurs Die, by Laura Krasny Brown, is similar to their many other “When Dinosaurs…” books. It is an informative, non-fiction book on a difficult topic, somewhat cartoonish in style, that explains facts & feelings to kids, and answers their typical questions. The lack of a narrative makes it a little less interesting to children as a bedtime story, but perhaps makes it an even better choice for an older child who can read and would benefit from having a source of information under his control.
Of course there are many more, but consider this a beginning list. Please make suggestions about other books to include in this list in the comments section.