When a child loses someone special to them to sickness, accident, or old age, it can be hard to know how to cope with the resulting uncharted emotions and questions. Whether they’ve lost a favorite pet, a friend, or a family member, we’e gathered the best books to help bring a child comfort, understanding, and coping mechanisms through this difficult time in their life.
Always Remember - A lyrically told, beautifully illustrated book that brings comfort to children–and adults–who have lost someone they love After Old Turtle swims his last swim and breathes his last breath, and the waves gently take him away, his friends lovingly remember how he impacted each and every one of them. As the sea animals think back on how much better Old Turtle made their lives and their world, they realize that he is not truly gone, because his memory and legacy will last forever. Jago’s gorgeous illustrations accompany Cece Meng’s serene text in a book that will help chidren understand and cope with the death of a loved one.
Grandpa's Stories - One young girl reflects on a year with her beloved grandpa. She remembers the fields and parks they explored in the springtime and the old toys they fixed up in the summer. She remembers the handmade gifts they exchanged in the fall and the stories Grandpa told by the fi re each winter. But this year, the girl must say good-bye to Grandpa. In the face of her grief, she is determined to find a way to honor him. She decides to record her Grandpa stories in the notebook he made for her and carry Grandpa with her as she grows. An honest and relatable depiction of loss, Grandpa’s Stories celebrates life and the ways in which love lives on.
Waiting for Augusta - From the author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher and Nooks & Crannies comes a “whimsical, heartwarming,” (Kirkus Reviews) and profound tale of love, loss, and family. Eleven-year-old Benjamin Putter has a lump in his throat, and he’s certain it’s a golf ball. He knows it sounds crazy, but everything’s been topsy-turvy since his father died last month. And he doesn’t know how to fix it. Then, one day, something starts tugging at Ben, telling him to hurry to Augusta, Georgia—home of the most famous golf course in the world. Ben might be going a little crazy, but escaping Hilltop, Alabama, sounds like a darn good idea. (And just maybe it will make that lump go away.) As he makes his way to Augusta, Ben partners up with a mysterious runaway named Noni, and they embark on a journey full of strange and wonderful surprises—and possibly magic—at every turn.
The Afterwards - Ember and Ness are best friends, completely inseparable. Ember can’t imagine what life would be without Ness. Until Ness dies, in a most sudden and unexpected way. Ember feels completely empty. How can this even be real? Then Ember finds a way into the afterworld-a place where the recently dead reside. She knows there must be a way to bring Ness back, so she decides to find it. Because that’s what friends do: rescue each other. But the afterworld holds its own dangers. How far will Ember go to make things the way they were again? Paired with enchanting illustrations from Emily Gravett, A. F. Harrold’s powerfully woven tale explores the lengths we go to for the people we love.
Want to see books about love?
The Goodbye Book - From bestselling author Todd Parr, a poignant and reassuring story about loss. Through the lens of a pet fish who has lost his companion, Todd Parr tells a moving and wholly accessible story about saying goodbye. Touching upon the host of emotions children experience, Todd reminds readers that it’s okay not to know all the answers, and that someone will always be there to support them. An invaluable resource for life’s toughest moments.
I'll Always Love You - A child’s sadness at the death of a beloved dog is tempered by the remembrance of saying to it every nignt, “I’ll always love you.”
A Stone for Sascha - A girl grieves the loss of her dog in an achingly beautiful wordless epic from the Caldecott Honor-winning creator of Journey. This year’s summer vacation will be very different for a young girl and her family without Sascha, the beloved family dog, along for the ride. But a wistful walk along the beach to gather cool, polished stones becomes a brilliant turning point in the girl’s grief. There, at the edge of a vast ocean beneath an infinite sky, she uncovers, alongside the reader, a profound and joyous truth. In his first picture book following the conclusion of his best-selling Journey trilogy, Aaron Becker achieves a tremendous feat, connecting the private, personal loss of one child to a cycle spanning millennia — and delivering a stunningly layered tale that demands to be pored over again and again.
My Old Pal, Oscar - After a young boy’s beloved pet passes away, he encounters an adorable stray dog on the beach. The boy tries to walk away and ignore the cuddly creature, but the puppy continues to follow him, undeterred. Though the boy is still dealing with the pain of his loss and feels afraid to care about a new pet again, as the two walk the sand together, the boy slowly opens himself up to the joy of having a new dog in his life and making peace with the past. New York Times bestselling Amy Hest and Amy Bates, the beloved team who created The Dog Who Belonged to No One, have created a touching story about new beginnings and how friendship and love have the power to heal.
Want to see books about pets?
The Thing About Jellyfish - This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist! After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory—even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.
Bridge to Terabithia - All summer, Jess pushed himself to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade, and when the year’s first school-yard race was run, he was going to win.But his victory was stolen by a newcomer, by a girl, one who didn’t even know enough to stay on the girls’ side of the playground. Then, unexpectedly, Jess finds himself sticking up for Leslie, for the girl who breaks rules and wins races. The friendship between the two grows as Jess guides the city girl through the pitfalls of life in their small, rural town, and Leslie draws him into the world of imaginations world of magic and ceremony called Terabithia. Here, Leslie and Jess rule supreme among the oaks and evergreens, safe from the bullies and ridicule of the mundane world. Safe until an unforeseen tragedy forces Jess to reign in Terabithia alone, and both worlds are forever changed. In this poignant, beautifully rendered novel, Katherine Paterson weaves a powerful story of friendship and courage.
Gentle Willow - Amanda the squirrel is upset that she is going to lose her friend Gentle Willow, but the tree wizards give advice that help both her and Gentle Willow accept the change that comes with death.
Heart and the Bottle - There is a wonder and magic to childhood. We don’t realize it at the time, of course . . . yet the adults in our lives do. They encourage us to see things in the stars, to find joy in colors and laughter as we play. But what happens when that special someone who encourages such wonder and magic is no longer around? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and grow up . . . or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. And we can encourage them to see things in the stars, find joy among colors and laughter as they play. Oliver Jeffers delivers a remarkable book, a tale of poignancy and resonance reminiscent of The Giving Tree that will speak to the hearts of children and parents alike.
Goodbye to Goldie - Katie Woo’s dog, Goldie, was very old. Goldie became sick and died. Katie will miss her friend. She is glad that she has lots of happy memories of Goldie.
Saying Goodbye to Lulu - When her dog Lulu dies, a girl grieves but then continues with her life.
Lasting Love - This gorgeous picture-book meditation on loss and family love is a useful tool for children navigating a first experience with death. When a family member or another loved one becomes ill, one of the scariest aspects of their sickness is the way they may change, both physically and in spirit. The feeling of loss can come so early as the person becomes more difficult to recognize. It’s a hard thing for anyone to understand, and especially so for a child. This book offers a helpful visualization of a sick person’s essence as a friendly creature who remains strong and warm, even as the illness progresses. The creature is always around and never tries to cheer the child up, but only serves to keep them company. Caroline Wright and Willow Heath clearly understand that, like the creature, a book cannot “fix” a painful situation or even make it a little better. Instead they simply reflect the pain of loss back to the reader and help them understand that they are not alone.
The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden - When the tsunami destroyed Makio’s village, Makio lost his father…and his voice. The entire village is silenced by grief, and the young child’s anger at the ocean grows. Then one day his neighbor, Mr. Hirota, begins a mysterious project—building a phone booth in his garden. At first Makio is puzzled; the phone isn’t connected to anything. It just sits there, unable to ring. But as more and more villagers are drawn to the phone booth, its purpose becomes clear to Makio: the disconnected phone is connecting people to their lost loved ones. Makio calls to the sea to return what it has taken from him and ultimately finds his voice and solace in a phone that carries words on the wind. Inspired by the true story of the wind phone in Otsuchi, Japan, following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
A Stopwatch from Grampa - “When summer started, I got Grampa’s stopwatch,” a small child says. “I don’t want his stopwatch. I want him.” Grampa used to time everything. A race to the end of the street and back: 24 seconds. Eating bubblegum ice cream: 1 minute, 58 seconds. But now, Grampa’s gone. “There are no more Grampa minutes, Grampa seconds,” the child says. “Time just stops.” As the seasons come and go, the stopwatch becomes a cherished symbol of remembrance, and the child uses it to carry on Grampa’s favorite pastimes and traditions. Loretta Garbutt uses subtlety and sensitivity to explore the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in this moving picture book story of loss. It features a gender-neutral main character (no first name or pronouns are given) making the story universally relatable. This is a perfect choice for fostering discussions with children about their emotions, particularly the feeling of loss. It also offers a poignant representation of an intergenerational relationship between a grandfather and grandchild. Carmen Mok’s expressive and thoughtful illustrations employ a limited color palette to convey the character’s emotional trajectory. There are curriculum applications here in social-emotional development as well as character education lessons in caring and resilience.
The Great Henry Hopendower - For fans of Grandpa Green, a young boy remembers his much-loved grandpa in this touching story about family, memory and everyday magic. Henry wakes up one bright morning ready to take on the day and find magic! After all, he is the Great Henry Hopendower—an aspiring young magician who learned everything he knows from the very best, his grandpa. Henry has so many favorite memories of his grandfather, including his house with its wobbly cuckoo clock and his famous leaning tower of pancakes that tipped but never toppled. And then there was the day his grandpa gave him a red checkered suit and shared the secret to being a magician: magic is everywhere, you just have to see it. So with Grandpa’s words as his guide, Henry sets off to do the truly impossible. This heartwarming story is a celebration of the magic that surrounds us all and the people we love most.
A Home for Goddesses and Dogs - A unique masterpiece about loss, love, and the world’s best bad dog, from award-winning author Leslie Connor, author of the National Book Award finalist The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle. It’s a life-altering New Year for thirteen-year-old Lydia when she uproots to a Connecticut farm to live with her aunt following her mother’s death. Aunt Brat and her jovial wife, Eileen, and their ancient live-in landlord, Elloroy, are welcoming―and a little quirky. Lydia’s struggle for a sense of belonging in her new family is highlighted when the women adopt a big yellow dog just days after the girl’s arrival. Wasn’t one rescue enough? Lydia is not a dog person―and this one is trouble! He is mistrustful and slinky. He pees in the house, escapes into the woods, and barks at things unseen. His new owners begin to guess about his unknown past. Meanwhile, Lydia doesn’t want to be difficult―and she does not mean to keep secrets―but there are things she’s not telling… Like why the box of “paper stuff” she keeps under her bed is so important… And why that hole in the wall behind a poster in her room is getting bigger… And why something she took from the big yellow dog just might be the key to unraveling his mysterious past―but at what cost? Award-winning author Leslie Connor crafts a story that sings about loss and love and finding joy in new friendships and a loving family, along with the world’s best bad dog. This uplifting story about recovery features strong female characters, an adorable dog, and the girl who comes to love him.
Want to see books about multigenerational?
My Bison - A little girl and a bison get to know each other. One spring morning though, the bison has to go join his kin. He promises the little girl to come and see her again each winter. And so, every winter, they meet up, having a chat by the fire, telling each other all about their adventures, or just enjoying the quiet moments. Friendship grows and with it, tenderness. Years go by, the bison and the girl don’t notice the other getting older, but then one season the bison doesn’t appear.
The President Sang Amazing Grace - Lyrical account of the day President Obama sang with a grieving nation following the 2015 shooting in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina When nine people were killed in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, the nation grieved as one, and when President Barack Obama sang “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, it was acknowledged as one of the most powerful moments of his presidency. Singer/songwriter Zoe Mulford was so moved that she wrote the song “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” which was then illustrated by filmmaker and painter Jeff Scher for a video that has been viewed countless times. This book presents the lyrics to the song, Scher’s paintings, excerpts from Obama’s eulogy, biographies of those who were killed, historical context, and sheet music.
The End of Something Wonderful - It’s painful when children lose their pets, and The End of Something Wonderful helps them handle their feelings when they can’t find the right words. In a warm, understanding, sometimes funny way, it explains how to plan a backyard funeral to say goodbye, from choosing a box and a burial spot to giving a eulogy. Most of all, it reassures kids that it’s not the end of everything . . . and that Something Wonderful can happen again.
Rabbit and the Motorbike - Rabbit isn’t sure he’ll ever be brave enough to go on an adventure. He’s a homebody who lives in a quiet field of wheat he dreams of leaving every night. His world is enlarged by his friend Dog and Dog’s tales of motorbike adventures. But one day, Dog is gone, and with him, go the stories Rabbit loves so much. Dare Rabbit pick up the motorbike and live his own story? This timeless fable of the journey from grief to acceptance will touch every reader. For those confronting loss and those eager to explore and experience, Rabbit’s bravery in the face of sadness will console, nurture, and inspire.
Want to see 24 more books about coping with death and death, grief, and bereavement ?
How about books about death, grief, and bereavement?