Best Children's Books About Death

53 Children's Books About Death

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Finn's Feather book
#1
Finn's Feather
Written by Rachel Noble and illustrated by Zoey Abbott
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Finn runs to show his mother the feather left for him by his brother Hamish, who is now an angel, but she only gives him a big hug. In school, Finn’s teacher responds similarly. Why isn’t anyone as excited as he is? Finn sits quietly, cradling the beautiful, amazing feather. “Why did Hamish give it to you?” asks his friend. “Maybe he wanted to say hi?” wonders Finn. “Maybe,” his friend replies, mischief sparkling in his eyes, “Hamish wanted you to have fun with it.” Finn’s Feather, beautifully illustrated by Zoey Abbot, is a story of love, loss, memory, and presence. It was written by Rachel Nobel following the loss of her son in 2012. This marks the author’s and illustrator’s debut into the world of picture books.

My Old Pal, Oscar book
#2
My Old Pal, Oscar
Written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Amy Bates
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

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.

Aunt Fanny's Star book
#3
Aunt Fanny's Star
Written and illustrated by Bridget Weineger, Feridun Oral
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Mama Bunny loves her dear Aunt Fanny. But when she becomes too ill to look after herself, Mama Bunny decides to move her in with her family. This means big changes at the Bunny house, of course, but it also means fun and discovery for the three young bunnies as they get to learn all about their funny aunt. She’s a bunny who knows how to enjoy her time until she must say her last goodbye. Aunt Fanny shows them that there is always comfort and consolation in the twinkling stars overhead. This touching, gentle picture book helps children navigate the difficult issues of dealing with the death of a loved one. It shares in simple terms the truth that death affects us all, and that life goes on as surely as there are stars twinkling in the sky.

The Girl with More Than One Heart book
#4
The Girl with More Than One Heart
Written and illustrated by Laura Geringer Bass
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Briana, devastated by the sudden death of her dad, imagines she has a new heart growing deep inside her belly that gives advice in her father's voice, providing her with the support she needs to navigate her grief.

Splotch book
#5
Splotch
Written and illustrated by Gianna Marino
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

An unsuspecting boy, his dead pet fish, and his well-intentioned mother make this a must-read for fans of The Bear Ate Your Sandwich and I Want My Hat Back. Splotch was meant to be in his bowl when his boy got home from school–but he isn’t there! There’s only one conclusion: he must have run away. But when he mysteriously returns, all is well again. Except…Splotch’s distinctive spot has moved and the only explanation is that he has been CHANGED BY ALIENS! When the spot moves yet again, it’s clear something fishy is going on. This hilarious story poses the question that, when it comes to this family, who is protecting whom? Spot-on kid-humor and splashy illustrations are a signature of Gianna Marino’s work. The perfect follow-up to I Am the Mountain Mouse and Night Animals, Splotch! will not disappoint!

The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery book
#6
The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery
Written by Allison Rushby
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Flossie Birdwhistle is the Turnkey at London’s Highgate Cemetery. As Turnkey, it’s Flossie’s job to ensure that all the souls buried in the cemetery stay at rest. Not an easy job for a young ghost, but a task made especially difficult by World War II: London is being attacked every night by enemy bombers, and even the dead are unsettled. When Flossie encounters the ghost of a German soldier carrying a mysterious object that seems to exist in both the living and spirit worlds, she becomes suspicious—what is the officer up to? Before long, Flossie uncovers a sinister plot that could destroy not only her cemetery, but also her beloved country. Can Flossie and her ghostly friends stop the soldier before it’s too late? History collides with the supernatural in this exciting, ethereal mystery from Allison Rushby.

A Stone for Sascha book
#7
A Stone for Sascha
Written and illustrated by Aaron Becker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

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.

Waiting for Augusta book
#8
Waiting for Augusta
Written by Jessica Lawson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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 Memory of Forgotten Things book
#9
The Memory of Forgotten Things
Written and illustrated by Kat Zhang
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In the tradition of The Thing About Jellyfish and When You Reach Me, acclaimed author Kat Zhang offers a luminous and heartbreaking novel about a girl who is convinced that an upcoming solar eclipse will bring back her dead mother

Jack the Ripper book
#10
Jack the Ripper
Written by Michael Burgan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Looks at one of historys most infamous serial killers known for committing gruesome murders in the late nineteenth-century who remains one of the world's most infamous criminals.

Lizzie Borden book
#11
Lizzie Borden
Written by Michael Burgan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it takes to be considered one of the worst figures in history, with this fourth book in a nonfiction series that focuses on the most nefarious historical figures. Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one. On August 4, 1892, the murders of wealthy and prominent Andrew and Abby Borden rocked the small town of Fall River, Massachusetts. The accused? Mild-mannered and highly respected Lizzie Borden, daughter of Andrew and stepdaughter of Abby. But did she actually do it? And if she did, why? Lizzie had as much to gain from the death of her father as anyone. Despite his wealth, Andrew did not believe in spending money and Lizzie had grown frustrated with the situation. And her actions in the days before the murder—trying to buy a type of strong poison—as well as those after the murder—burning a dress she claimed was stained—didn’t help. On August 11, Lizzie was arrested. But after a sensational trial, she was found not guilty. Rumors lingered. Stories persisted. And Lizzie continues to fascinate even today.

The Gray Hunter's Revenge book
#12
The Gray Hunter's Revenge
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Frank and Joe investigate a supernatural crime in the seventeenth book in the thrilling Hardy Boys Adventures series. One of the Hardys’ favorite writers, Nathan Foxwood, has recently died in a tragic car accident. Now, the press is swarming his house in Bayport to get the scoop on the novel he completed just before his untimely death. When Joe hears that Nathan’s wife is having a giant estate sale, he drags Frank with him. Who could pass up the opportunity to see inside their favorite author’s home? Nathan’s wife says she wants to get away as quickly as possible; strange things have been happening since their first night there and now her husband is gone and she’s sure the house is haunted. But Nathan’s assistant, Adam, is not so willing to blame it all on the supernatural. Valuable things keep disappearing from the house—why would a ghost need money? Adam recognizes the Hardys’ from an article he read and asks for their help. Of course Frank and Joe Hardy don’t believe in ghosts and are positive they can get to the bottom of all this. But when Adam is mysteriously hurt after spending the night alone in the house, the brothers start to wonder; what is the motive for these crimes if not ghostly revenge? Could these brother detectives be in over their heads?

The Night Diary book
#13
The Night Diary
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary.

One Shadow on the Wall book
#14
One Shadow on the Wall
Written and illustrated by Leah Henderson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

An orphaned boy in contemporary Senegal must decide between doing what is right and what is easy as he struggles to keep a promise he made to his dying father in this “stirring” (School Library Journal) debut novel laced with magical realism. Eleven-year-old Mor was used to hearing his father’s voice, even if no one else could since his father’s death. It was comforting. It was also a reminder that Mor had made a promise to his father before he passed: keep your sisters safe. Keep the family together. But almost as soon as they are orphaned, that promise seems impossible to keep. With an aunt from the big city ready to separate him and his sisters as soon as she arrives, and a gang of boys from a nearby village wanting everything he has—including his spirit—Mor is tested in ways he never imagined. With only the hot summer months to prove himself, Mor must face a choice. Does he listen to his father and keep his heart true, but risk breaking his promise through failure? Or is it easier to just join the Danka Boys, whom despite their maliciousness are at least loyal to their own? One Shadow on the Wall is about love and loss, family and friendship, and creating your own future—even when it’s hard to do.

La Catrina book
#15
La Catrina
Written by Ariana Stein, Patty Rodriguez and illustrated by Citlali Reyes
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Inspired by one of the most recognized symbols of Dia de Muertos or "Day of the Dead," a holiday that celebrates life and remembers the dearly departed, this book will introduce little ones to emotional expressions and their first English and Spanish words.

Heartbeat book
#16
Heartbeat
Written and illustrated by Evan Turk
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This cinematic picture book from critically acclaimed author and illustrator Evan Turk follows the life of a baby whale from birth, to song, to silence, to a new song of compassion and hope for a brighter future. Two hearts, one song. A young whale and her mother sing together. Heartbeat. Then the mother is gone. One heart, one song. The young whale swims, alone and lonely, for days and years and decades... until one day a little girl hears her and joins her song. Together, they sing of hope for a brighter future. One world, one song, one heartbeat.

The Remember Balloons book
#17
The Remember Balloons
Written by Jessie Oliveros and illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

What’s Happening to Grandpa meets Up in this tender, sensitive picture book that gently explains the memory loss associated with aging and diseases such as Alzheimer’s. James’s Grandpa has the best balloons because he has the best memories. He has balloons showing Dad when he was young and Grandma when they were married. Grandpa has balloons about camping and Aunt Nelle’s poor cow. Grandpa also has a silver balloon filled with the memory of a fishing trip he and James took together. But when Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away, James is heartbroken. No matter how hard he runs, James can’t catch them. One day, Grandpa lets go of the silver balloon—and he doesn’t even notice! Grandpa no longer has balloons of his own. But James has many more than before. It’s up to him to share those balloons, one by one.

The Fix-It Man book
#18
The Fix-It Man
Written by Dimity Powell and illustrated by Nicky Johnston
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

It's handy having a dad who can fix just about anything. A young girl believes her father is the king of fixing things. But following the death of her mother, she discovers that broken hearts are not as easy to repair as damaged toys and cracked teapots. Together, she and her father find a way to glue back the pieces of her lives. The Fix-It Man is a poignant picture book that explores how a child can cope with the loss of a parent (in this case, the young girl's mother). Repairing damaged emotions is not as straightforward as gluing a broken kite back together or sewing up a torn toy. And grief affects all members of a family, with each responding in their own way to the loss. By sticking with her father, the young girl is able to strengthen her resilience and ability to cope with one of life's harshest experiences. The author was encouraged to seek publication for this story after receiving the endorsement of several grief counsellors who work with children and who recognised the need for a book such as this.

Tim's Goodbye book
#19
Tim's Goodbye
Written and illustrated by Steven Salerno
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

In this touching picture book, a group of children says goodbye to a beloved pet who has died. When Margot’s pet turtle Tim dies, she and her friends band together to give him a proper send off. With flowers, a French horn, and balloons, they say goodbye to him with love. This tender story from Steven Salerno also features his beautiful illustrations, with a simple color palette and classic feel. Tim's Goodbye is sure to strike a chord with readers who have experienced a difficult farewell.

Ida, Always book
#20
Ida, Always
Written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A polar bear grieves over the loss of his companion, based on the real-life Gus and Ida of New York's Central Park Zoo.

Goodbye to Goldie book
#21
Goodbye to Goldie
Written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Tammy Lyon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

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.

The Road to Ever After book
#22
The Road to Ever After
Written by Moira Young
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A young boy escorts an elderly woman back to her childhood home where she plans to die in this funny and heartbreaking middle-grade novel. Davy David, an orphan, lives by his wits in the dead-end town of Brownvale. When a stray dog named George turns Davy’s life upside down just days before Christmas, Davy sets in motion a chain of events that forces them to flee. A mischievous wind blows the two of them to a boarded-up museum on the outskirts of town where they meet the elderly recluse, Miss Flint. She has planned one last adventure before her time is up and hires the reluctant Davy and George to escort her. As they travel, the most peculiar thing begins to happen—Miss Flint gets younger and younger with every mile, and her story unfolds along with it. The Road to Ever After by Moira Young is magical and moving adventure about an unlikely friendship and an unforgettable journey. Praise for The Road to Ever After: "Gorgeous writing combines with a hauntingly bleak near-future setting, a whiff of holiday magic, and a transcendent story arc to make this novel feel like the classic it deserves to become." —Publishers Weekly, starred review "This fairy tale-like novel has good potential as a read- aloud and is just quirky enough to not be sentimental." —School Library Journal

Better Off Undead book
#23
Better Off Undead
Written by James Preller
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

After becoming undead, a boy tries to survive middle school in this quirky, smart adventure for middle grade readers from James Preller. Adrian Lazarus has met with a curious fate. He’s returned from the dead (after a bad bike accident, no helmet), yet not a lot has changed. He’s always been an outcast. But it’s not just being a zombie that makes Adrian feel different. He notices the world has changed, too: bees are vanishing, forest fires are burning, super-flus are spreading. The holographic advertisements in the night sky assure people that all is well. Adrian and his friends—a beekeeping boy, a mysterious new girl, and a seventh-grade sleuth—aren’t so sure. When they discover a birdlike drone has been spying on Adrian, the clues lead two powerful corporate moguls. What do they really want? Find out in Better Off Undead, a smart and funny middle-grade novel that brings together environmental concerns, sci-fi elements, and the supernatural. This title has Common Core connections. Praise for Better Off Undead: “This uproarious middle grade call to action has considerable kid appeal and a timely message.” —School Library Journal “Against a near-future backdrop, Preller thoughtfully chronicles the anxieties of middle school, using a blend of comedy and horror to send a message of empowerment and self-acceptance.” —Publishers Weekly “Adrian may be undead, but this is much more than a zombie tale, as it touches upon cultural issues, media control, family bonds, and environmental issues. Fans of Carl Hiassen’s Hoot will be as satisfied by this as will fans of monster books or those who appreciate stories of outcasts and coming-of-age stories. Highly recommended.” —Children's Literature More fast-paced adventure from James Preller: The Courage Test The Fall The Scary Tales series: Home Sweet Horror I Scream, You Scream! Good Night, Zombie Nightmareland One-Eyed Doll Swamp Monster The Jigsaw Jones Mysteries: The Case of the Smelly Sneaker The Case of the Mummy Mystery The Case of the Glow in the Dark Ghost The Case of the Bicycle Bandit The Case from Outer Space The Case of the Best Pet Ever The Case of the Buried Treasure The Case of the Million-Dollar Mystery The Case of the Disappearing Dinosaur

Zombie Tag book
#24
Zombie Tag
Written by Hannah Moskowitz
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Wil is desperate for his older brother to come back from the dead. But the thing about zombies is . . they don't exactly make the best siblings. Thirteen-year-old Wil Lowenstein copes with his brother's death by focusing on Zombie Tag, a mafia/ capture the flag hybrid game where he and his friends fight off brain-eating zombies with their mothers' spatulas. What Wil doesn't tell anybody is that if he could bring his dead brother back as a zombie, he would in a heartbeat. But when Wil finds a way to summon all the dead within five miles, he's surprised to discover that his back-from-the-dead brother is emotionless and distant. In her first novel for younger readers, Moskowitz offers a funny and heartfelt look at how one boy deals with change, loss, and the complicated relationship between brothers.

Always Remember book
#25
Always Remember
Written by Cece Meng and illustrated by Jago
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

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