Books about death for kids. As a teacher, a parent, and a blogger about resources for young children there are some topics I feel I NEED to write about, but I don’t particularly WANT to write about.
As many of you know, we lost our baby at the end of October. Since then we have lost a close family friend and also our family cat. You can be assured that there has been plenty of discussion about death in our house. While death of course is entirely natural, it is not a topic most would like to discuss. Especially with young, innocent children.
But, sadly, death impacts those young, innocent children more times than we might care to see. So, how can we, as caring and loving adults support these children and teach them about death? How can we help them to grieve? How can we answer those questions that we truly can’t even answer for ourselves?
I always turn to books.
Books have a beautiful way of reaching the souls of children. They can explain big, scary, emotional topics in a way that doesn’t seem so big and scary.
I have created a resource for you that I wish I did not have to create. But wishing is not going to prevent death from impacting our children – so the least I can do is ensure you are well prepared.
Here are the best books for children about death. I have explained what you can expect from each book in the hopes that you will be able to find one that is exactly perfect for your child. There are general books about death, informative books, comforting books, books about the death of a loved one, books about the death of pets, books about grieving and emotions. Please leave a comment below if you have a suggestion to be added to this list. Thank you very much.
(this post contains affiliate links)
I am sending you love and light as you guide your child through this difficult journey.
The Invisible String, Patrice Karst. This beautiful book does not deal with death precisely, however it is written about the ‘invisible string’ that attaches heart to heart of those we love. This book would be very reassuring for a child who has lost a very close friend or family member as it describes so beautifully how love never, ever dies. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String, made of love. Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart, and know that you are always connected to the ones you love.” You can find The Invisible String on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca.
I Miss You: A first look at death, by Pat Thomas. This book is an excellent resource for children who want to know about death. This book looks at what it means to die, “When someone dies, their body stops working – they stop breathing and their heart stops beating.” The author describes the process of a funeral and then delves into the many feelings a child might have after someone they love has died. It is written in a calm and reassuring manner. Near the end of the book the author explains how the child will once again feel happy. This book states that, “There is much we don’t know about death. Every culture has different beliefs about what happens after a person dies,” but does not discuss the idea of heaven or other beliefs. It is focused on what exactly death is and how a child might be feeling after a loved one dies. An invaluable resource to keep on hand. You can find I Miss You on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca.
The Goodbye Book, Todd Parr. This book is written for very young children. It has one sentence on every page and shares the story of a goldfish’s friend dying. The book expresses to readers feelings that they might have after a loved one dies and that all of those feelings are okay. “It’s hard to say goodbye to someone. You might not know how to feel. You might feel very sad…” The books also describes how, eventually, you will remember the happy times and how your love for that person will always remain with you. It is an ideal book for children who are 2 – 5 years old. You can find The Goodbye Book on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca.
Gentle Willow: A story for children about dying, by Joyce C. Mills. This lovely story tells the tale of a squirrel who loves to play in her friend the Gentle Willow. One day, the squirrel notices that the tree is changing. Tree wizards appear, but cannot fix Gentle Willow. The squirrel experiences many emotions. She supports Gentle Willow through changes and tells her a story of a caterpillar afraid to change and then turning into a beautiful butterfly. Slowly Gentle Willow changes and dies and the squirrel notices how the butterflies have returned. This book is ideal for children aged 6-12 years old. Gentle Willow can be found on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca
I’ll Always Love you, by Hans Wilheim. This story is about the loss of pets. This story is told through the perspective of a young boy. He got a puppy, Elfie, when he was a baby and tells the tale of growing up with this puppy. The story has a 1-3 sentences on each page. As the boy becomes about 8 they take Elfie to the vet as she no longer wants to go for walks, “We took her to the vet but there wasn’t much he could do. “Elfie is growing old,” he explained.” One morning Elfie dies and the family buried her in the yard. The boy is offered a new puppy, but chooses to wait a while before getting a new pet. He knows he will always love Elfie and he knows that Elfie won’t mind when he gets a new pet. This book is appropriate for children aged 2 – 8 years. I’ll Always Love You can be found on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca
Where are you? A child’s book about loss, by Laura Olivieri. This story is for young children and is simply and beautifully written. It has 1-3 sentence per page with simple writing, “I cannot hear you, I cannot see you.” It also uses simple language, “I felt sad. I felt happy. I smiled.” This book is a great resource for a young child who has specifically lost a grandparent. It is ideal for children 2 – 6 years old. You can find Where Are You? A child’s book about loss on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca.
Lifetimes: The beautiful way to explain death to children, by Brian Mellonie. If your child has recently learned about death, or is frightened or confused, this book is perfect. It calmly and beautifully explains how everything has a lifetime: animals, plants, people. It tells that dying is just as much a part of living as being born. Everything has it’s own special lifetime. This book has large beautiful illustrations and is great for children of all ages (and adults too). You can find Lifetimes: The beautiful way to explain death to children on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca.
I hope these suggestions are helpful to you and your little ones. If you have a book not on this list that has been of help to your child in dealing with death or grief please let me know. Thank you very much.
Thank you for joining me here today friends. While I know this is not a topic that is fun to read or think about, I appreciate you being here. I appreciate what you are doing for the children in your life. Thank you for making this world a little less scary and a lot more loving for a child.
I know a book for older children on the theme: Grandad’s prayers of the earth by Douglass Wood. I think it is beautiful.
Thank you Adina for your recommendation. I will be sure to read it.
Doris Gregory says
I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved baby. Parents were never supposed to have to bury their children. We lost our son to a brain tumor at 27 and even with three other children and his loving father, my husband, I thought my heart would break. I comfort myself with the thought that he is the “safe one”. He is the one that is safe in heaven with God having a much better time than the rest of us on earth. I don’t know your faith, but I can’t but think that someone so smart and generous must have similar faith and if you haven’t found comfort in your faith than please believe me that it is all right to grieve as long as it takes and it isn’t a lack of faith but grieving takes its own time. Please know that you will be in my prayers.
Thank you so much for your loving message Doris. I am so sorry for your loss. xo