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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Friend

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

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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)

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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)

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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.)

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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)

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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

First Published: 11/02/1998
Last Reviewed: 08/01/2018