Often, those of us with children are in tune with our children’s emotional needs. However, when both you and your child are grieving, how do you help them through it? It can be difficult to put aside our emotions to care for our children, especially in such a taxing, stressful time. Shepherd’s Cove wants to help alleviate that stress. Below, we’ve listed 20 books for children that discuss death, grief, and most importantly, life. Each book’s description has been pulled from its Amazon page.

  1. Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children – Bryan Mellonie, Robert Ingpen. When the death of a relative, a friend, or a pet happens or is about to happen . . . how can we help a child to understand? Lifetimes is a moving book for children of all ages, even parents too. It lets us explain life and death in a sensitive, caring, beautiful way. Lifetimes tells us about beginnings. and about endings. and about living in between. With large, wonderful illustrations, it tells about plants. About animals. About people. It tells that dying is as much a part of living as being born. It helps us to remember. It helps us to understand. Lifetimes is a very special, very important book for you and your child. The book that explains—beautifully—that all living things have their own special Lifetimes.
  2. Badger’s Parting Gifts – Susan Varley. All the woodland creatures—Mole, Frog, Fox, and Rabbit—love old Badger, who is their confidante, advisor, and friend. When he dies, they are overwhelmed by their loss. Then they begin to remember and treasure the memories he left them. Told simply, directly, and honestly, this uplifting story will be of tremendous value to both children and their parents. A gentle classic that can help foster communication, care, and understanding.
  3. Till We Meet Again: A Children’s Book about Death and Grieving – Julie Muller. This book provides comfort to families when they experience the loss of a loved one. The book is meant to help a grieving child remember and share their special memories with those around them and to help them grow to see how they can honor and cherish their loved ones through their own actions. Much love and hope has been poured into this book to help young children deal with loss and provide hope that someday we will all meet again.
  4. Someone I Love Died – Christine Harder Tangvald. First published in 1988, Someone I Love Died has long comforted the hearts of children 4 to 8 who have lost someone close. It gently leads children through grief with age-appropriate words and solid biblical truth that understands a child’s hurting heart. The added interactive resources ensure this book will become a treasured keepsake. Once complete, children create a memory book of the loved one’s life. and it offers grown-ups a tool that turns what could be a difficult season into a meaningful time of healing.
  5. Here in the Garden – Briony Stewart. From award-winning author and illustrator Briony Stewart comes a tender picture book about loss, love and friendship. “The wind is raking through the falling leaves and I wish that you were here.” As the seasons change, a young boy shares the magic of his garden with a special friend. Here in the Garden is a personal tale from Briony’s life and shows that you can always find your way back to a loved one through your heart and memories.
  6. The Healing Book: Facing the Death – and Celebrating the Life – of Someone You Love – Ellen Sabin. This is an interactive book to help children and families express their feelings, ask questions, and explore their memories about a loved one who has passed away. It is an activity book, journal, and conversation-starter that children can make their own and use in whatever way best meets their needs during the grieving and remembering process. This 64-page, hardcover book has been created so it can be used by any child or family dealing with the death of a loved one. It is a powerful tool in the healing process that opens lines of communication while also creating a scrapbook of memories that can last a lifetime.
  7. Where Do They Go? – Julia Alvarez. Bestselling novelist (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents) and children’s (The Tia Lola Stories) author Julia Alvarez’s new picture book is a beautifully crafted poem for children that gently addresses the emotional side of death. The book asks, “When somebody dies, where do they go? / Do they go where the wind goes when it blows? … Do they wink back at me when I wish on a star? Do they whisper, ‘You’re perfect, just as you are’? …” Illustrated by Vermont woodcut artist, Sabra Field, Where Do They Go? is a beautiful and comforting meditation on death, asking questions young readers might have about what happens to those they love after they die.
  8. Gentle Willow: A Story for Children About Dying – Joyce C. Mills. 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.
  9. The Goodbye Book – Todd Parr. 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.
  10. Ida, Always – Caron Levis. 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.
  11. The Memory Box: A Book About Grief – Joanna Rowland. “I’m scared I’ll forget you…” From the perspective of a young child, Joanna Rowland artfully describes what it is like to remember and grieve a loved one who has died. The child in the story creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one, to help in the grieving process. Heartfelt and comforting, The Memory Box will help children and adults talk about this very difficult topic together. The unique point of view allows the reader to imagine the loss of any they have loved – a friend, family member, or even a pet. A parent guide in the back includes information on helping children manage the complex and difficult emotions they feel when they lose someone they love, as well as suggestions on how to create their own memory box. The Memory Box is a 2017 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards winner–a contest intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading.
  12. When My Daddy Died, I…: Things I Miss About My Dad – J. Reider. K.J.’s best friend, his father Nicholas Reider, died when K.J. was only seven years old. K.J. captures the memories he cherished with his dad and hopes that other children will cherish them too.
  13. My Many Colored Days – Seuss. Accompanying a manuscript Dr. Seuss wrote in 1973, was a letter outlining his hopes of finding “a great color artist who will not be dominated by me.” The late Dr. Seuss saw his original text about feelings and moods as part of the “first book ever to be based on beautiful illustrations and sensational color.” The quest for an artist finally ended—after the manuscript languished for more than two decades—at the paint brushes of husband-and-wife team Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher whose stunning, expressive paintings reveal such striking images as a bright red horse kicking its heels, a cool and quiet green fish, a sad and lonely purple dinosaur, and an angrily howling black wolf. Using a spectrum of vibrant colors and a menagerie of animals, this unique book does for the range of human moods and emotions what Oh, the Places You’ll Go! does for the human life cycle. Here is a wonderful way for parents to talk with children about their feelings. With Johnson and Fancher’s atmospheric, large-scale paintings bursting off the pages, Dr. Seuss’s vision is brought to life. This rare and beautiful book is bound to appeal to both the innocent young and the most sophisticated seniors.
  14. Finding Grandpa Everywhere: A Young Child Discovers Memories of a Grandparent – John Hodge. After Grandpa dies, a young boy finds that the memories of him and his love live on everywhere he looks. Includes a discussion of the importance of allowing children to understand death and undergo the process of grieving.
  15. Stacy Had a Little Sister – Wendie C. Old. Stacy sometimes feels jealous of her new baby sister Ashley, wishing she would go away, but when Ashley dies of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Stacy must find a way to cope with her guilt and with her family’s loss.
  16. Missing Mommy: A Book About Bereavement – Rebecca Cobb. Some time ago, we said good-bye to Mommy. I am not sure where she has gone. Honest and straightforward, this touching story explores the many emotions a bereaved child may experience, from anger and guilt to sadness and bewilderment. Ultimately, Missing Mommy focuses on the positive―the recognition that the child is not alone but still part of a family that loves and supports him.
  17. I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand: A Child’s Guide to Grief and Loss – Pat Palmer. A best friend has moved away…Dad no longer lives with the family… A favorite relative or pet has died. This warm and comforting book gently helps the grieving child identify his or her feelings—from denial and anger to guilt and sadness—and learn to accept and deal with them. Expressive illustrations help children discover that it is natural to feel the pain of loss, and that they can help themselves feel better by seeking the comfort they need in healthy ways.
  18. Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson. Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. and he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.
  19. A Taste of Blackberries – Doris Buchanan Smith. Jamie isn’t afraid of anything. Always ready to get into trouble, then right back out of it, he’s a fun and exasperating best friend. But when something terrible happens to Jamie, his best friend has to face the tragedy alone. Without Jamie, there are so many impossible questions to answer — how can your best friend be gone forever? How can some things, like playing games in the sun or the taste of the blackberries that Jamie loved, go on without him?
  20. The Scar – Charlotte Moundlic. When the boy in this story wakes to find that his mother has died, he is overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and fear that he will forget her. He shuts all the windows to keep in his mother’s familiar smell and scratches open the cut on his knee to remember her comforting voice. He doesn’t know how to speak to his dad anymore, and when Grandma visits and throws open the windows, it’s more than the boy can take — until his grandmother shows him another way to feel that his mom’s love is near. With tenderness, touches of humor, and unflinching emotional truth, Charlotte Moundlic captures the loneliness of grief through the eyes of a child, rendered with sympathy and charm in Olivier Tallec’s expressive illustrations.

Disclaimer: Shepherd’s Cove Hospice does not endorse or claim to have read any of these texts. The views shared in these texts may not necessarily reflect our own views. We simply wanted the resources to be there for our friends and family in case they are needed.