Skip to main content

Books for grieving children

  • Preschool to age 8  Ages 8 to 12 Journals and workbooks
    Funerals, cemeteries and Shiva   Family illness and disability

    These resources can be used when explaining death to young children or to help them grieve. Most of the links from the book titles below will lead you to  Amazon.com, where you can learn more about the book, read reviews about it, and order it if you'd like. Most of these books can be purchased through other book sellers, as well, or found at your local library.

    Preschool to age 8

    Friend loss
    Parent loss  Sibling loss 
    Grandparent loss 
    Pet loss   

    General grief, explaining death

    Aarvy Aardvark Finds Hope
    by Donna O'Toole; Compassion Books, 1988
    Available from Compassion Books

    A Bunch of Balloons: A Book - Workbook for Grieving Children
    by Dorothy Ferguson Wofford (Author), Dorothy Ferguson (Author), Joy Johnson (Editor), Susanna Pitzer (Illustrator), 2006.
    Compares loss of a loved one with the letting go of a helium balloon. It looks at not just what's been lost, but what sill is left.
    Available from Centering Corporation

    The Dead Bird
    by Margaret Wise Brown; Harper & Row, 1938
    This classic story about a funeral put on by a group of children continues to be republished.

    The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages
    by Leo Buscaglia; Charles B. Slack, Inc. 1982
    Available from Compassion Books

    Feelings
    by Aliki; Mulberry Press, 1984

    Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One: A Guide for Grown Ups
    by William C. Kroen, PhD; Free Spirit Publishing, 1996

    I Miss You: A First Look at Death
    by Pat Thomas; Barron's Educational Series, 2001
    This book gently explains death to children, ages 4 to 8.
    Available from Compassion Books

    Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children
    by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen; Bantam Books, 1987
    This sensitive explanation describes death as part of nature: animals, birds, fish, insects and people.

    The Next Place
    by Warren Hanson, 1997.
    A classic that brings gentle verse revealing a safe and welcome destination free from earthly hurts and filled with wonder and peace.

    The Saddest Time
    by Norma Simon; Albert Whitman & Company, 1992

    Sad Isn't Bad: A Good-Grief Handbook for Children
    by Michaelene Mundy; Abbey Press, 1998

    Saying Goodbye
    by Jim and Joan Boulden; Jim Boulden Press, 1997
    Available from Compassion Books

    Tear Soup
    by Pat Schweibert, Chuck DeKlyen; Grief Watch; Second Rev edition, 2001.

    Tell Me, Papa
    by Joy and Marv (Papa) Johnson, 2001
    A gentle explanation for children about death and the funeral.

    What is Death?
    by Etan Boritzer, 2000
    Introduces children to the concept of death with examples of customs and beliefs from different religions and cultures.

    What's Heaven?
    by Maria Shriver; Golden Books Adult Publishing, 1999
    In this book, Kate, a little girls whose great-grandma has died, seeks this answer.

    When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death
    by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown; Little, Brown and Company, 1996
    This book takes a multicultural look at dying and the customs that surround it.

    When Someone Dies
    by Sharon Greenlee; Peachtree Publishers, 1992
    Available from Compassion Books

    Return to top.

    Loss of a friend

    Always and Forever
    by Alan Durant and Debi Gilion; Harcourt Children's Books, 2004

    Badger's Parting Gifts
    by Susan Varley; Harper Trophy, 1992

    Bear's Last Journey
    by Udo Weigelt; Nord-Sud Verlag, 2003

    If Nathan Were Here
    by Mary Bahr; Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2000
    This gentle story is about children mourning their friend, Nathan.
    Available from Compassion Books

    A Story for Hippo
    by Simon Puttock and Alison Bartlett; Scholastic Press, 2001

    Return to top.

    Loss of a grandparent

    Finding Grandpa Everywhere
    by John Hodge; Centering Corporation, 1998
    A young child discovers memories of grandpa. This beautifully illustrated book has a section for parents or teachers.

    Grandma's Scrapbook
    by Josephine Nobisso; Gingerbread House, 2000
    A scrapbook of memories reminds the reader of love and joy, as well as loss.
    Available from Compassion Books

    Liplap's Wish
    by Jonathon London; Chronicle Books, 1997
    Liplap builds a snow bunny and longs for Grandma.

    Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs
    by Tomie dePaola; G.P. Putnam and Sons, 1973
    Four year-old Tommy loves visiting his grandmother and his great-grandmother. But one day Tommy's mother tells him great-grandmother won't be there anymore.

    Old Pig
    by Margaret Wild; Puffin, 1999
    Grandmother pig puts her affairs in order, takes a special walk with her granddaughter before she dies.

    Poppy's Chair
    by Karen Hesse; Macmillan, 1993
    Leah visits Grandma after Grandpa's death.

    What Happened When Grandma Died
    by Peggy Barker; Concordia Publishing House, 1989
    Written from a Christian perspective, this book is about a young girl whose grandma just died.

    Return to top.

    Loss of a parent

    The Brightest Star
    by Kathleen Maresh Hemery; Centering Corporation, 1998
    Molly was scared when her mother was ill and angry when she died. Molly is asked to draw her family and discovers the power of memories.
    Available from Compassion Books

    Daddy's Promise
    by Cindy Klein Cohen; Promise Publishing Company, 1997
    After Daddy's death, questions of where he is are answered by Mom's candor and dreams of seeing Dad in another place, then understanding car accident.

    Everett Anderson's Goodbye
    by Lucille Clifton; Henry Holt and Company, 1988
    An African American boy deals with his father's death.

    Geranium Morning
    by E. Sandy Powell; Carolrhoda Books, 2001
    A young boy's dad dies in an accident, plus his friend's mom is ill and dying.

    A Quilt for Elizabeth
    by Bennette W. Tiffault; Centering Corporation, 1992
    Grandmother and child make a quilt from Daddy's clothes.

    Saying Goodbye to Daddy
    by Judith Vigna; Albert Whitman & Company, 1991
    Clare is helped by Grandpa and Mom after the death of her father in a car accident.
    Available from Compassion Books

    Return to top.

    Loss of a pet

    Dribbles
    by Connie Heckert; Clarion Books, 1994
    An old cat comes into a family and later dies. The remaining cats miss the old one and are very sad but realize that death is part of life.

    I'll Always Love You
    by Hans Wilhelm; Dragonfly Books, 1988
    A boy's dog dies, and the boy realizes that you never stop loving your dog -- or anyone -- even when they die.

    The Tenth Good Thing about Barney
    by Judith Viorst; Aladdin, 1987
    This is a classic tale of cat's funeral.

    When a Pet Dies
    by Fred Rogers; G.P. Putnam and Sons, 1988
    Available from Compassion Books

    When Your Pet Dies
    by Diane Pomerance, PhD; Polaire Publications, 2001

    Return to top.

    Loss of a sibling

    Lost and Found: Remembering a Sister
    by Ellen Yeomans; Centering Corporation, 2000
    A preschool girl expresses confusing feelings after the death of her sister.

    Where's Jess?
    by Joy and Marv Johnson; Centering Corporation, 1982
    This simple book is for young children who have lost a baby brother or sister.
    Available from Compassion Books

    More grief resources for preschool to age 8

    Return to top.

  • Ages 8 to 12

    Friend loss
    Parent loss  Sibling loss 
    Grandparent loss 
    Pet loss

    Most of the links from the book titles below will lead you to  Amazon.com, where you can learn more about the book, read reviews about it, and order it if you'd like. Most of these books can be purchased through other book sellers, as well, or found at your local library.

    General

    About Dying (non-fiction)
    by Sara Bennett Stein
    Walker and Co., 1974

    Charlotte's Web
    by E.B. White
    Harper & Row, 1952
    (Classic story of animal's attachment, loss and grief)

    Children Also Grieve
    by Linda Goldman, 2005.
    The combination of narrative and interactive memory book is designed to be read and worked through by children.

    A Complete Book About Death for Kids
    by Earl Grollman and Joy Johnson
    This book includes information about death, dying and the feelings you have when someone you love dies. Also talks about burial, cremation, funerals and the cemetery.

    Great Answers to Difficult Questions about Death What Children Need to Know
    by Linda Goldman, 2009.
    This book explores children's thoughts and feelings on the subject and provides parents and other caring adults with guidance on how to respond to difficult questions.

    I Know I Made it Happen
    by Lynn Blackburn, 1990.
    Gives kids support and understanding during crises. It's nice to know, though, that my wishes, and my thoughts, and my words, don't make bad things happen.

    The Saddest Time
    by Norma Simon
    Whitman and Co., 1986
    (Three scenarios: uncle, friend, grandparent deaths)

    Time for Uncle Joe
    by Nancy Jewell
    Harper 1981
    (Memories through the seasons and belongings)

    What is Death?
    by Etan Broitzer, 2000.
    Introduces children to the concept of death with examples of customs and beliefs from different religions and cultures.

    What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?
    by Trevor Romain, 1999.
    The author talks directly to kids about what death means and how to cope. He describes and discusses the overwhelming emotions involved in grieving-sadness, fear, anger, guilt- and offers practical strategies for dealing with them.

    Why Did You Die?
    by Erica Leeuwenburgh and Ellen Goldring.
    When a loved one dies, children are faced with a kaleidoscope of feelings, thoughts, myths, and questions. This book will help children, parents and other adults communicate about death and the grieving process.

    Return to top.

    Friend

    A Taste of Blackberries 
    by Doris Smith, 1973 
    (Accidental death of friend, guilt, regret, funeral)

    Return to top.

    Grandparent

    Annie and the Old One 
    by Miska Miles 
    Little Brown, 1971 
    (Navaho view of death from grandmother to granddaughter)

    Blackberries in the Dark (also a video) 
    by Mavis Jukes, 1985 
    (Widow and grandson coping after grandfather's death)

    Finding Grandpa Everywhere: A Young Child Discovers Memories of a Grandparent 
    John Hodge, Susan Aitken 
    (Beautifully illustrated story of finding Grandpa in memories, things left behind, a life lesson, and debunking the euphemism of "lost" for died.)

    A Gift for Tia Rosa 
    by Karen Taha 
    Dillon, 1985 
    (Before and after elderly neighbor's death, explores regret)

    Missing May 
    Cynthia Rylant 
    (A summer to observe grandparents deep love for each other and then grandma dies)

    What Happened When Grandma Died? 
    by Peggy Barker 
    Concordia, 1984 
    (Christian explanation of death)

    Return to top.

    Parent

    Daddy's Climbing Tree 
    by C.S. Adler 
    Clarion Books, 1993 
    (Jessica, 11, takes her little brother Tycho to her grandparents' house to look for Daddy, who was struck and killed by a hit and run driver. But the grandparents don't live there anymore and Daddy isn't there either. She learns to look for his memory in her heart.)

    Devil's Bridge 
    Cynthia C. De felice 
    Avon Books, 1994 
    (12-year-old Ben copes with father's death and mother's overprotectiveness during a fishing contest.)

    How It Feels When A Parent Dies 
    by Jill Krementz 
    (Photo essays by children ages 7 -1 6)

    Mama's Going To Heaven Soon 
    by Kathe Martin Copeland (Author), Elissa Hudson (Illustrator) (Illustrator), 2005. 
    A compassionate story to assist young children and their caregivers deal with the impending death of a parent.

    The Rag Coat (fiction) 
    by Lauren Mills 
    (Love felt from dad even after death)

    A Star for the Latecomer 
    by Paul Zindel and Bonnie Zindel, 1980 
    (Young teen, mother and daughter deal with mom's cancer)

    Winter Holding Spring 
    by Crescent Dragonwagon 
    MacMillan Publishing, 1990 
    (Dad and daughter move through a year of seasons after mom's death)

    Return to top.

    Pet

    A Dog like Jack 
    DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan 
    The Horn Book, Inc. 1999 
    (Jack's family adopts a dog, they have a life together, the dog grows old and dies. Warm watercolor, warm narrative, concludes with note to parents and teachers.)

    Return to top.

    Sibling

    Am I Still A Sister?
    by Alicia Sims
    (11-year-old author, baby brother's death)

    Ghost Brother
    C. S. Adler
    Wally's daring, carefree older brother is killed in an accident; Wally attempts to be less timid, enters skateboard competition and gains perspective on the loss.

    Nadia, The Willful
    by Sue Alexander and illustrated by Lloyd Bloom
    Pantheon Books, 1983
    (Healing power of talking about brother's death)

    Return to top.

  • About funerals, cemeteries and Shiva

    After the Funeral
    by Jane Lorette Winsch, 1995
    Reassures about common fears following a death; multicultural.

    Daddy's Chair (Shiva)
    by Sandy Lanton, 1990
    Michael comes to terms with Daddy's death during the week of observing Shiva.

    The Mountains of Tibet: A Child's Journey Through Living and Dying
    by Mordicai Gerstein, Barefoot Books, Ltd., 1987
    Tibetan Buddhist teachings on life and death in picture book form.

    Tell Me, Papa (Ages 6-10)
    by Joy and Marv Johnson
    Publisher: Centering Corporation, 1978, 1-402-553-1200
    A grandfather speaks to children of funerals - explaining preparation of the body, role of funeral director, vocabulary of death-related things. It is also a compassionate story.   

  • About family illness and disability

    Can I Still Kiss You: Answering Your Children's Questions About Cancer
    by Neil Russell
    (Informative narrative and interactive journal by a father of two, diagnosed at age 47.)

    The Hope Tree: Kids Talk About Breast Cancer
    by Wendy Schlessel Harpham and Laura Numeroff
    (ages 4 - 8. Animal children form a support group to talk about moms with breast cancer, scary emotions, the medical team and looking for good things among the bad.)

    Losing Uncle Tim (fiction)
    by Marykate Jordan
    (Daniel's favorite uncle has AIDS - Daniel visits right up to death.)

    Mommy Stayed in Bed This Morning
    Mary Wenger Weaver
    (David and his family deal with Mom's depression)

    Now One Foot, Now The Other (fiction) (Ages 4 - 10)
    by Tomie de Paola, 1981
    (Bobby's grandpa has a stroke - the child learns to return care and compassion.)

    Our Mom Has Cancer
    by Adrienne Ackerman, Abagail Ackerman
    (Picture book for young children)

    Promises
    Elizabeth Winthrop
    (Sarah learns about treatment, hospitals, hair loss and that mom keeps promises for celebrations)

    Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy
    by Amelia Frahm, Elizabeth Schultz
    (Humurous book about family life and sensitive portrayal of a parent with cancer. Picture book)

    American Cancer Society
    Books for Children recommendations

    When Mommy Is Sick
    by Ferne Sherkin-Langer
    (A realistic and supportive book about hospitals and sick-in-bed at home.)

    When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness - Workbook
    by Marge Heegaard
    (Workbook which encourages a child to draw feelings and impressions of the family situation)

  • Journal and workbooks

    Bare Books
    (Several sizes of blank books with covers to color or covers to design. Also lineguides, plastic book covers, plastic crayons, etc.)
    Publisher: Treetop Publishing, PO Box 085567, Racine WI 53408
    Phone: 1-414-884-0501

    Drawing Out Feelings Series
    (Death, Serious Illness, Trauma, Divorce, Alcoholism and Parent Remarries)
    by Marge Heegaard
    Publisher: Woodland Press, 99 Woodland Circle, Minneapolis MN 55424
    Phone: 1-612-926-2665

    Homemade Books to Help Kids Cope
    by Robert Ziegler, MD
    (How-to Techniques and instructions to make personalized story books to help children deal with loss & trauma)
    Compassion Books, 1-704-675-9670

    My Memory Book
    by Gretchen Gaines-Lane
    (20 exercises plus 20 pages for creativity)
    Publisher: Chi Rho Press, 1-301-670-1859

    Saying Goodbye (Ages 4-8) 
    by Jim Boulden
    (Coloring book style - cartoons and activities to help children understand the finality of death)
    Compassion Books, 1-704-675-9670

    So Much to Think About
    by Fred Rogers
    (Activity book for children - safe, warm, comforting
    Compassion Books, 1-704-675-9670 

    When a Grandparent Dies
    By Nechama Liss-Levinson, PhD.
    ("A Kid's Own Remembering Workbook for Shiva and the Year Beyond")
    Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1-802-457-4000