30 Children’s Books That Explain Death And Grief To Kids

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30 Children’s Books That Explain Death And Grief To Kids

Grief and death are two painful words and no one should experience them suddenly. This pandemic has made many families go through the pain of losing a loved one. My friend Grace curated a list for such families and she was kind enough to let me use some recommendations in my posts. You can check the Instagram post here CLICK HERE

In the Christian faith, we are taught, death means rest. The earthly body is planted into the soil and we are waiting for the return of Jesus to accept the glorious body. Not everyone shares this faith, and so this post I curated for parents who don’t want to include religion and wanted to explain to the kids what death actually means.

I hope the below books will help you to answer the kid’s question and process loss.

1. THE INVISIBLE STRING BY PATRICE KARSL

An Invisible String made of love. Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart and know that you are always connected to the ones you love. Does everybody have an Invisible String? How far does it reach? Does it ever go away? This heartwarming picture book for all ages explores questions about the intangible yet unbreakable connections between us and opens up deeper conversations about love.

2. THE FALL OF FREDDIE THE LEAF BY LEO BUSCAGLIA

An inspiring allegory that illustrates the delicate balance between life and death, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf has helped a generation of readers navigate death and dying, grief and bereavement, the passage of time, and the loss of a loved one.

3. CRY, HEART, BUT NEVER BREAK BY GLENN RINGTVED

Aware their grandmother is gravely ill, four siblings make a pact to keep death from taking her away. But Death does arrive all the same, as it must. He comes gently, naturally. And he comes with enough time to share a story with the children that helps them to realize the value of loss to life and the importance of being able to say goodbye.

4. NANA UPSTAIRS & NANA DOWNSTAIRS BY TOMIE DEPAOLA

Tommy is four years old, and he loves visiting the home of his grandmother, Nana Downstairs, and his great-grandmother, Nana Upstairs. But one day Tommy’s mother tells him Nana Upstairs won’t be there anymore, and Tommy must struggle with saying goodbye to someone he loves.

5. I MISS YOU BY PAT THOMAS

When a close friend or family member dies, it can be difficult for children to express their feelings. This book helps boys and girls understand that death is a natural complement to life, and that grief and a sense of loss are normal feelings for them to have following a loved one’s death. Titles in this sensitively presented series explore the dynamics of various relationships experienced by children of preschool through early school age. Kids are encouraged to understand personal feelings and social problems as a first step in dealing with them. 

6. THE GOODBYE BOOK BY 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.

7. THE MEMORY TREE BY BRITTA TECKENTRUP

This gentle story about the loss of a loved one is perfect for sharing and will bring comfort to both children and parents.

8. BADGER’S PARTING GIFTS BY SUSAN VARLEY

Badger is so old that he knows he must soon die, so he does his best to prepare his friends. When he finally passes away, they are grief-stricken, but one by one they remember the special things he taught them during his life. By sharing their memories, they realise that although Badger is no longer with them physically, he lives on through his friends.

9. GRANDMA’S GLOVES BY CECIL CASTELLUCCI

Grandma is always on her knees in the dirt, with her gardening gloves on, talking to her roses and laughing with the birds-of-paradise. Her home brims with plants and blossoms, and on hot days, she waters her granddaughter, her “most special flower of all,” with the garden hose. But a day comes when Grandma is no longer there to care for the little girl, who feels sad and small and alone until she remembers all that her grandmother taught her.

10. LIFETIMES BY BRYAN MELLONIE AND ROBERT INGPEN

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.

11. THE HEART AND THE BOTTLE BY OLIVER JEFFERS

Once there was a girl whose life was filled with wonder at the world around her… Then one day something happened that made the girl take her heart and put it in a safe place. However, after that, it seemed that the world was emptier than before. But would she know how to get her heart back?

12. THE RABBIT LISTENED BY CORI DOERRFELD

The Rabbit Listened is a tender meditation on loss. When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn’t feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs.

13. CHESTER RACCOON AND THE ACORN FULL OF MEMORIES BY AUDREY PENN

Chester Raccoon’s good friend Skiddel Squirrel has had an accident and will not be returning – ever. Chester is upset that he won’t get to play with his friend anymore. Mrs Raccoon suggests that Chester and his friends create some memories of Skiddel so that they will have good memories when they miss him. Chester, his brother Ronny, and their friends decide to gather at the pond, where they combine their memories and create a touching celebration of their friend’s life.

14. WHEN DINOSAURS DIE BY LAURIE KRASNY

No one can really understand death, but to children, the passing away of a loved one can be especially perplexing and troublesome. This is true whether the loss is a classmate, friend, family member, or pet. This helpful book provides answers to kids’ most often asked questions and also explores the feelings we may have regarding the death of a loved one, and the ways to remember someone after he or she has died.

15. IDA, ALWAYS BY CARON LEVIS

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

15. WHEREVER YOU ARE MY LOVE WILL FIND YOU BY NANCY TILLMAN

If love could take shape it might look something like these heartfelt words and images from the inimitable Nancy Tillman. Wherever You Are is a book to share with your loved ones, no matter how near or far, young or old, they are.

16. WHERE DO THEY GO BY JULIA ALVAREZ

This 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’?

17. ALWAYS AND FOREVER BY DEBI GLIORI

When Fox dies the rest of his family are absolutely distraught. How will Mole, Otter and Hare go on without their beloved friend? But, months later, Squirrel reminds them all of how funny Fox used to be, and they realise that Fox is still there in their hearts and memories.

18. MAYBE TOMORROW BY CHARLOTTE AGELL

A heartwarming story about loss, healing, and how to be a friend during hard times. This tender exploration of loss illuminates the sustaining power of kindness, empathy, and friendship. It will resonate with anyone who has experienced hardship or grief, from the death of a loved one or a pet to the transition to a new home, family situation, or learning environment. It is especially comforting during this time of social distancing and the uncertainty around what the future holds, sensitively demonstrating that we are stronger together.

19. THE FOX AND THE FEATHER BY KENDALL LANNING

Grief can be a difficult topic to address. This book has a beautiful way of giving hope to the grieving heart while strengthening spiritual and emotional intelligence for both children and adults. After losing a loved one it can be comforting to know they are still connected to us, one of those ways is through signs.

20. FOX: A CIRCLE OF LIFE STORY BY ISABEL THOMAS

In the frost-covered forest of early spring, the fox is on a mission to find food for her three cubs. As they grow, she teaches them how to survive in the wild. Until one day, the fox dies. Her body goes back to earth and grass and air, nourishing the world around her and bringing the forest to life. Death is not just an end, it’s also a beginning.

21. THE ROUGH PATCH BY BRIAN LIES

A deeply hopeful and positive book, The Rough Patch is a story about love, loss, and hope, and the healing power of friendship and nature.

22. GRANDAD’S ISLAND BY BENJI DAVIES

This book covers the loss of a grandparent and highlights the special role they can play in children’s lives, before and after death.

23. ONE WAVE AT A TIME BY HOLLY THOMPSON

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.

24. ALWAYS REMEMBER BY CECE MENG

It’s a celebration of life – after Turtle dies, his friends remember the wonderful experiences they had with him. They take comfort in those memories, and in knowing that as long as they are alive, Turtle will remain with them.

25. THE SCAR BY 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 humour, and unflinching emotional truth.

26. WHY DO THINGS DIE? BY KATIE DAYNES

A beautiful and gentle look at the circle of life, using Christine Pym’s gorgeous animal characters to explore the emotions and facts around death, with questions such as Is it ok to talk about dying? What happens when someone dies? Can I shout and cry and hideaway? and How can I stop feeling sad?

27. MISSING MOMMY: A BOOK ABOUT BEREAVEMENT BY REBECCA COBB

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 recognition that the child is not alone but still part of a family that loves and supports him.

28. RUDI’S POND BY RONALD HIMLER

When the young narrator’s best friend, Rudi, dies, she and the other children in school build a memorial pond by a big oak tree and hang Rudi’s hummingbird feeder by the pond, and one day, a very special hummingbird comes to visit, in a touching picture book based on a true story.

29. BUG IN A VACUUM BY MELANIE WATT

A bug flies through an open door into a house, through a bathroom, across a kitchen and bedroom and into a living room … where its entire life changes with the switch of a button. Sucked into the void of a vacuum bag, this one little bug moves through denial, bargaining, anger, despair and eventually acceptance — the five stages of grief — as it comes to terms with its fate. Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel? Will there be dust bunnies in the void?

30. IF ALL THE WORLD WERE… BY JOSEPH COELHO

This beautifully illustrated, powerful and ultimately uplifting text is the ideal way to introduce children to the concept of death and dying, particularly children who have lost a grandparent.

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Clicking any of the links on this website does not increase the cost or affect the price for any product you purchase from Amazon.

To read more book reviews CLICK HERE

If you are looking for faith-based books about grief & death CLICK HERE

If you are looking for an Indian authors books about grief & death CLICK HERE

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Hi, I am Karen- Mom to a 3-year-old and a passionate book reviewer. A book lover myself, I strongly believe in reading to kids on a daily basis, to help them turn into mini bookworms. I find delight in my every growing bookshelf. Join us in our reading journey and don't forget to share your bookish love with us too.

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