Smaller children especially may be full of questions when a loved one dies. Sometime, it’s difficult to know how to answer, or you may be unsure how to begin a conversation that explores feelings that little ones may find hard to express.
These 10 beautiful children’s books on grief and loss have been written with younger readers in mind, but explore complicated emotions with a simplicity that can be a comfort for the bereaved, whatever age you are.
The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic
($26.99 ISBN: 9780763653415)
When a little boy wakes up to find his mother has died, he feels sad, cross and worried that he will forget her. He decides if the scratch on his knee doesn’t go away, it will keep his mum closer. When Grandma visits, she helps him find some different ways to hold onto his mother’s love. This moving story may be a comfort to children finding it hard to accept a loved one’s death, but shows that moving on never means forgetting. This book for grieving children includes questions to ask, in order to open out conversations.
The Goodbye Book by Todd Brown
($28.99, ISBN: 9780316404976)
This book uses uncomplicated words and colourful pictures to describe things we think and feel when someone we loved very much dies. A warm and reassuring children’s book on death to read aloud and begin a conversation with a little one, it’s told from the perspective of a pet fish who has lost his companion.
Watch Todd read the story from cover to cover:
When Someone Very Special Dies by Marge Eaton Heegaard
($18.99 ISBN: 9780962050206)
Young readers can help draw the illustrations for this book, as it talks about what happens when someone dies, and the questions and feelings we may have afterwards. Besides children’s books on grief and loss, author and clinician Marge Eaton Heegaard’s other art therapy titles for kids cover topics including living with the first stage of a serious illness.
The Heart and the Bottle, by Oliver Jeffers
($12.99 ISBN: 9780007429004 )
This story is about a little girl who begins to forget about the other things she loves, when someone special to her dies. Keeping her heart in a bottle will keep it safe from more hurt, she thinks, until she meets another little girl whose infectious curiosity reminds her about how she used to be. It’s among the children’s books on grief and loss with a symbolic narrative.
Sad Isn’t Bad by Michaelene Mundy
($10.99 ISBN: 9781497683037)
It’s okay to feel gloomy and it’s fine to cry, when someone’s died and you have all sorts of complicated feelings that you don’t know what to do with. Besides affirming that we can feel sad when we are missing people, in all sorts of ways, this book for grieving children includes questions to ask and open out conversations.
Missing Mommy by Rebecca Cobb
($29.99 ISBN: 9780805095074)
When we say goodbye to mommy, where did she go? The author and illustrator of this children’s bereavement book welcomed support from leading child experts when she created this highly-praised book for very young ones.
What Does Dead Mean? by Caroline Jay, Jenni Thomas and Unity Joy Dale
($19.99 ISBN: 9781849053556)
Why do people have to die – and is being dead like sleeping? This children’s book on grief and loss addresses 17 big questions that children have about death, with simple, truthful answers and talking points of its own to prompt further thoughts and conversation.
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book, illustrated by Quentin Blake
($16.99 ISBN: 9781406317848)
Easy to follow for children aged five and up, this is a book for everyone. Michael Rosen wrote this following the death of his 18-year old son, Eddie. Complex and often overwhelming feelings are conveyed with beautiful simplicity, accompanied by illustrations that also say as much.
Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine by Diana Crossley
($27.99 ISBN: 9781903458969)
Characters Bee and Bear lead a host of activities and exercises for children to do, with the help of an adult. This keepsake book aims to help kids make sense of their grief, while finding a balance between remembering and having fun.
Waterbugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney
($23.99 ISBN: 9780826464583)
This classic children’s book on death has been around since 1971 and has a spiritual take the subject. It compares the underwater lives of waterbugs to our time on earth. Each time one swims to the surface of the water, it disappears. It emerges on the other side into the sunshine as a beautiful dragonfly – even though the ones that are left behind cannot see it happen.
If you are caring for a child who has lost someone they love, read more about supporting a grieving child.