Best Kids Books About Death

The Top 24 Books About Death

Updated Mar. 27, 2019

Death can be a difficult conversation with our little ones, but it's definitely an important one. You never know when a loved one or pet might pass away, and helping them be familiar with the concept can help them cope if someone in their life does die. These books are a great help to start that conversation and create some special, safe moments learning about life and death together with your child.

Wherever You Are book
#1
Wherever You Are
Written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This one brings the tears...such a meaningful, beautiful, loving book that is a perfect reminder of love from someone who has passed on or even just lives far away. The illustrations are sweet, and the text talks about all of the things around you that are reminders of love from someone who can't be near.

. . . I wanted you more than you'll ever know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go. . . . Love is the greatest gift we have to give our children. It's the one thing they can carry with them each and every day. If love could take shape it might look something like these heartfelt words and images from the inimitable Nancy Tillman. Here is a book to share with your loved ones, no matter how near or far, young or old, they are.

Ida, Always book
#2
Ida, Always
Written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from Mr. Stacatto

A beautiful, calming book about two bears that spend their days together at the zoo, loving life and their friendship. Things change one day, however, when Gus learns that Ida is sick and not going to get better. This book introduces a difficult topic and the pain that is often associated with losing a loved one, but it makes you feel like everything is going to turn out alright.

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.

The Invisible String book
#3
The Invisible String
Written by Patrice Karst and illustrated by Geoff Stevenson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Goodfather

I love the lesson shared by this book. I especially love how well the story of the String works literally, like the "tugs" that we feel for each other. It's message about that String connecting even with deceased loved ones is certain to help console any reader, young or old, coping with loss.

Picture book for children 4-8 years of age. A simple story that reminds children they are never truly alone. People who love each other are connected by an invisible string made of love.

No Matter what book
#4
No Matter what
Written and illustrated by Debi Gliori
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Small, a little fox, seeks reassurance that Large will always provide love, no matter what.

Something Very Sad Happened book
#5
Something Very Sad Happened
Written by Bonnie Zucker and illustrated by Kim Fleming
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

A "tool for parents, caregivers, therapists, and teachers to help young children understand the concept of death and begin the process of coping with the loss"--Amazon.com.

The Memory Box book
#6
The Memory Box
Written by Joanna Rowland and illustrated by Thea Baker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Grieving over the death of a special person, a young child creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one. Includes a guide for parents with information from a Christian perspective on helping manage the complex and difficult emotions children feel when they lose someone they love, as well as suggestions on how to create their own memory box.

I'll Always Love You book
#7
I'll Always Love You
Written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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."

The Goodbye Book book
#8
The Goodbye Book
Written and illustrated by Todd Parr
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

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 Miss You book
#9
I Miss You
Written by Pat Thomas and illustrated by Leslie Harker, Pat Thomas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Explains why people die and what death means, the purpose of funerals, and how people react when loved ones die.

Saying Goodbye to Lulu book
#10
Saying Goodbye to Lulu
Written by Corinne Demas and illustrated by Ard Hoyt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

When her dog Lulu dies, a girl grieves but then continues with her life.

A Terrible Thing Happened book
#11
A Terrible Thing Happened
Written by Margaret M. Holmes and illustrated by Cary Pillo, Sasha J. Mudlaff
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

After Sherman sees something terrible happen, he becomes anxious and then angry, but when a counselor helps him talk about these emotions he feels better.

Gentle Willow book
#12
Gentle Willow
Written by Joyce C. Mills and illustrated by Cary Pillo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Lifetimes book
#13
Lifetimes
Written by Bryan Mellonie and illustrated by Robert Ingpen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Explains that different plants and animals have different lifespans and grow up at different rates

The Dead Bird book
#14
The Dead Bird
Written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

This heartwarming classic picture book by beloved children’s book author Margaret Wise Brown is beautifully reillustrated for a contemporary audience by the critically acclaimed, award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson. One day, the children find a bird lying on its side with its eyes closed and no heartbeat. They are very sorry, so they decide to say good-bye. In the park, they dig a hole for the bird and cover it with warm sweet-ferns and flowers. Finally, they sing sweet songs to send the little bird on its way.

What's Heaven? book
#15
What's Heaven?
Written by Maria Shriver and illustrated by Sandra Speidel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

This treasure of a book, for people of all faiths, is a starting point for parents who must talk about the difficult topic of death with their children. What should parents say when a loved one dies? Heaven is a difficult subject that always comes up at tough times, and Maria Shriver has written a very special book precisely for these stressful moments. What's Heaven? is the story of Kate, a little girl whose great-grandma has just died. She seeks answers, and her mother helps her learn about Heaven. The many questions in this book are real, coming from Shriver's own children, nieces, and nephews when her grandmother Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy passed away. With 900,000 copies of the book now in print, the loving, confident, and ultimately uplifting answers Shriver provides are helping readers' families come together, feel closer to one another, and experience peace during the times when they need it most.

Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs book
#16
Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs
Written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Four-year-old Tommy enjoys his relationship with both his grandmother and great-grandmother, but eventually learns to face their inevitable death.

Bridge to Terabithia book
#17
Bridge to Terabithia
Written by Katherine Paterson and illustrated by Donna Diamond
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

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.

Grandpa's Stories book
#18
Grandpa's Stories
Written by Joseph Coelho and illustrated by Allison Colpoys
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

One Wave at a Time book
#19
One Wave at a Time
Written by Holly Thompson and illustrated by Ashley Crowley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

After his father dies, Kai experiences all kinds of emotions: sadness, anger, fear, guilt. Sometimes they crash and mix together. Other times, there are no emotions at all—just flatness. As Kai and his family adjust to life without Dad, the waves still roll in. But with the help of friends and one another, they learn to cope—and, eventually, heal. A lyrical story about grieving for anyone encountering loss.

A Stone for Sascha book
#20
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.

My Old Pal, Oscar book
#21
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.

Always Remember book
#22
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.

Finn's Feather book
#23
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.

Someone I Love Died book
#24
Someone I Love Died
Written and illustrated by Christine Harder Tangvald
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Discusses death from a Christian perspective, explaining God's plan for everlasting life.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.