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Loss: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about loss?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to loss. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about loss.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about loss, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like I Miss You to popular sellers like A Monster Calls to some of our favorite hidden gems like Ida, Always.

We hope this list of kids books about loss can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Grandpa's Top Threes
Written by Wendy Meddour & illustrated by Daniel Egneus
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A young boy’s original game coaxes a grieving grandpa to reconnect with the world in a touching intergenerational story of love and resilience. Henry loves talking with Grandpa, but Grandpa has stopped listening. Mom says to just give him time. But Henry wants to talk to Grandpa now. So Henry tries his favorite game: Top Threes. And something amazing happens: Grandpa starts talking again. Out of a tale of favorite sandwiches and zoo animals, outings and trains, emerges a moving story about love, loss, and the wonder of grannies and grandpas.

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

A beautiful, honest portrait of loss and deep friendship told through the story of two iconic polar bears.

Gus lives in a big park in the middle of an even bigger city, and he spends his days with Ida. Ida is right there. Always.

Then one sad day, Gus learns that Ida is very sick, and she isn’t going to get better. The friends help each other face the difficult news with whispers, sniffles, cuddles, and even laughs. Slowly Gus realizes that even after Ida is gone, she will still be with him—through the sounds of their city, and the memories that live in their favorite spots.

Ida, Always is an exquisitely told story of two best friends—inspired by a real bear friendship—and a gentle, moving, needed reminder that loved ones lost will stay in our hearts, always.

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A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story
Written by Caren Stelson & illustrated by Akira Kusaka
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-11

In this deeply moving nonfiction picture book, award-winning author Caren Stelson brings Sachiko Yasui’s story of surviving the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and her message of peace to a young audience.

Sachiko’s family home was about half a mile from where the atomic bomb fell on August 9, 1945. Her family experienced devastating loss. When they returned to the rubble where their home once stood, her father miraculously found their serving bowl fully intact. This delicate, green, leaf-shaped bowl–which once held their daily meals–now holds memories of the past and serves as a vessel of hope, peace, and new traditions for Sachiko and the surviving members of her family.

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Where Lily Isn't
Written by Julie Paschkis & illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Lily ran and jumped and barked and whimpered and growled and wiggled and wagged and licked and snuggled. But not now. It is hard to lose a pet. There is sadness, but also hope—for a beloved pet lives on in your heart, your memory, and your imagination.

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Henry and Bea
Written & illustrated by Jessixa Bagley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Henry and Bea are inseparable, but one day Henry suddenly stops talking to his best friend. Bea knows there’s something Henry’s not telling her, but what could it be?

Henry and Bea have always been inseparable…until one day Henry suddenly stops talking to Bea. He won’t chat with her in class, and he won’t sit with her at lunch. Bea can tell something’s going on, and she’s determined to find out what it is.

Then their teacher announces that the class is taking a field trip to a farm, and Bea hopes that this might be her chance to reconnect with Henry. When Henry finds an old cat collar at the farm and starts to cry, he finally reveals his secret to Bea: his cat Buddy died last week.

And even though it’s hard for them both, Bea knows that she’ll be there for Henry, as his best friend, no matter what. From award-winning author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley comes a realistic and ultimately uplifting portrayal of the challenges of childhood friendship.

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  • The Rough Patch - Evan and his dog do everything together. They play and read and eat. But mostly you will find them tending to Evan’s extraordinary garden, where flowers and other good things flourish and reach for the sky. But friends don’t always stay forever, and when Evan loses his, he destroys the place that meant the most to them, and creates something to match his mood. Something ugly and twisted, sad and stubborn, ragged and rough—and he likes it that way. Until one day . . . New York Times–bestselling author Brian Lies has created a breathtakingly beautiful and luminescent book about loss and grief, love and hope, and the healing power of friendship, curiosity, and nature.

  • Dance Like a Leaf - As her grandmother’s health declines, a young girl begins to lovingly take the lead in their cozy shared autumn traditions. Poetic prose paired with evocative illustrations by Mexican illustrator Claudia Navarro make for a beautiful celebration of life and a gentle introduction to the death of a loved one.

  • 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.

  • Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie - When nine-year-old Eleanor’s beloved babysitter Bibi moves away to care for her ailing father, Eleanor must spend the summer adjusting to a new babysitter while mourning the loss of her old one.

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The End of Something Wonderful
Written by Stephanie V. W. Lucianovic & illustrated by George Ermos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

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The Fix-It Man
Written by Dimity Powell & 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.

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Holes in the Sky
Written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Miss Eula is back! In this heartwarming companion to Chicken Sunday, young Trisha is devastated when her grandmother passes away, but finds joy in bonds with a new friend, her new California neighborhood--and the invincible Miss Eula.
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Everything Naomi Loved
Written by Ian Lendler and Katie Yamasaki & illustrated by Katie Yamasaki
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Honking cars, pizza by the slice, Hair by Carmen, the corner bodega–and Naomi’s best friend, Ada. <p>But 11th Street begins to change. Shops close, buildings are torn down, and signs promise something new. One by one, Naomi’s neighbors are forced to move. Faced with the transformation of her city block, Naomi picks up a paintbrush. <em>When something we love goes away we paint it on the wall so it’s always with us</em>, her neighbor Mister Ray tells her. Naomi turns her 11th Street memories into a great mural–and discovers that where she finds people to love, she will have a place to love.</p><p>Internationally acclaimed muralist Katie Yamasaki’s paintings are at once monumental and heartfelt. <em>Everything Naomi Loved</em> entwines a celebration of community and friendship with a vision of social justice in this lyrical and universal story about home.</p>

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Maybe Tomorrow?
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A heartwarming story about loss, healing, and how to be a friend during hard times.
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  • A Monster Calls - An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor. <BR>At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

  • Grandad's Island - With subtlety and grace, Benji Davies paints a poignant and ultimately uplifting picture of loss.

  • Line Tender - Funny, poignant, and deeply moving, The Line Tender is a story of nature's enduring mystery and a girl determined to find meaning and connection within it.

  • I Miss You - Explains why people die and what death means, the purpose of funerals, and how people react when loved ones die.

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Blue Skies
Written by Anne Bustard
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
For fans of Kate DiCamillo's Louisiana's Way Home, this heartwarming novel tells the story of ten-year-old Glory Bea as she prepares for a miracle of her very own--her father's return home.
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Birdie and Me
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
  • “Belongs alongside Holly Goldberg Sloan’s <i>Counting by 7s</i>, Cindy Baldwin’s <i>Where the Watermelons Grow</i>, and Ali Benjamin’s <i>The Thing about Jellyfish</i>. <b>Highly recommended</b>.”–<i>School Library Journal</i>, <b>starred review</b> <p/><b>An emotional and uplifting debut about a girl named Jack and her gender creative little brother, Birdie, searching for the place where they can be their true and best selves. </b> <p/>After their mama dies, Jack and Birdie find themselves without a place to call home. And when Mama’s two brothers each try to provide one–first sweet Uncle Carl, then gruff Uncle Patrick–the results are funny, tender, and tragic. <p/>They’re also somehow . . . spectacular. <p/>With voices and characters that soar off the page, J. M. M. Nuanez’s debut novel depicts an unlikely family caught in a situation none of them would have chosen, and the beautiful ways in which they finally come to understand one another. Perfect for fans of <i>The Thing about Jellyfish</i> and <i>Counting By Sevens</i>. <p/>”A luminous debut.”–Ashley Herring Blake, author of <i>Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World</i>, Stonewall Honor book
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Lasting Love
Written by Caroline Wright & illustrated by Willow Heath
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

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The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole
Written by Michelle Cuevas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A girl’s friendship with a lonely black hole leads her to face her own sadness in this original, funny, and touching middle grade novel for fans of Crenshaw and Flora & Ulysses. When eleven-year-old Stella Rodriguez shows up at NASA to request that her recording be included in Carl Sagan’s Golden Record, something unexpected happens: A black hole follows her home, and sets out to live in her house as a pet. The black hole swallows everything he touches, which is challenging to say the least–but also turns out to be a convenient way to get rid of those items that Stella doesn’t want around. Soon the ugly sweaters her aunt has made for her all disappear within the black hole, as does the smelly class hamster she’s taking care of, and most important, all the reminders of her dead father that are just too painful to have around. It’s not until Stella, her younger brother, Cosmo, the family puppy, and even the bathroom tub all get swallowed up by the black hole that Stella comes to realize she has been letting her own grief consume her. And that’s not the only thing she realizes as she attempts to get back home. This is an astonishingly original and funny adventure with a great big heart.

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Rabbityness
Written & illustrated by Jo Empson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Tells the story of a rabbit whose love of music and art inspires other rabbits even after he disappears.

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  • Summer of the Gypsy Moths - A foster child named Angel and 12-year-old Stella, who are living with Stella’s great-aunt Louise at the Linger Longer Cottage Colony on Cape Cod, secretly assume responsibility for the vacation rentals when Louise unexpectedly dies and the girls are afraid of being returned to the foster care system. 50,000 first printing.

  • A Stitch in Time - In 1927 Vermont, eleven-year-old Donut, recently orphaned after the death of her beloved pops, stands to lose everything when she learns her Aunt Agnes plans to move her to Boston, but little does her aunt know that Donut has no intentions of leaving her friends or her home.

  • Another Kind of Hurricane - The world, itself, seems to bring together Henry, whose best friend died near their home in the mountains of Vermont, and Zavion, who lost his home in Hurricane Katrina, so that the boys can help each other heal.

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