Now Read This! Children’s Books about Death
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The Dead Bird
By Margaret Wise Brown. Illus. by Remy Charlip. 1995. HarperCollins.
A favorite children’s author tells the simple story of a group of children who find a dead bird and bury it in the woods. The children visit the bird’s grave and decorate it with flowers daily, until eventually, they forget.
Everett Anderson’s Goodbye
By Lucille Clifton. Illus. by Ann Grifalconi. 1983. Henry Holt.
Readers journey with Everett Anderson, a young boy, as he experiences the five stages of grief following the death of his father. Rhyming text and charcoal drawings illustrate Everett’s emotions and his mother’s support.
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages
By Leo Buscaglia. 1982. Slack.
Freddie the leaf learns about life and death as he, his friend Daniel, and their fellow leaves change with the passing seasons and finally fall to the ground in the winter snow.
Jim’s Dog Muffins
By Miriam Cohen. Illus. by Ronald Himler. 2008. Star Bright.
First-grader Jim has been having a hard time since his dog Muffins died. At school, he becomes angry when his classmates don’t seem to understand how he feels. Can his good friend Paul help him to feel better?
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children
By Bryan Mellonie with Robert Ingpen. 1983. Bantam.
Using examples of humans, trees, and sea creatures, this book explains that all living things have a lifetime with a beginning, an ending, and living in between. This simply-worded book is a good resource for explaining the life cycle to young children.
Love Never Stops: A Memory Book for Children
By Emilio Parga. 2007. The Solace Tree.
Emilio Parga, founder of The Solace Tree, a child and adolescent center for grief and loss, created this memory book to give grieving children an opportunity to express themselves.
Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs
By Tomie dePaola. 2000. Putnam.
First published in 1973 and later expanded and updated, this autobiographical picture book describes dePaola’s relationships with his grandmother and greatgrandmother and how he deals with their deaths.
The Next Place
By Warren Hanson. 1997. Waldman House.
In this beautifully illustrated book, Hanson presents a reassuring, universal view of heaven, or “the next place,” while avoiding specific religious messages. The book is best suited for children whose families believe in life after death and who are curious about what happens after someone dies.
The Saddest Time
By Norma Simon. Illus. by Jacqueline Rogers. 1992. Albert Whitman and Company.
A child experiencing the loss of a loved one is the subject of these three gentle stories. While each presents a different scenario (death by illness, accident, or old age), all of the stories address children’s sad feelings and present different coping strategies.
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
By Judith Viorst. Illus. by Erik Blegvad. 1971. Simon and Schuster.
When his cat Barney dies, a boy tries to think of 10 good things to say about his pet at the funeral. But he is only able to think of nine good things, until a conversation with his father helps him to discover the tenth.
When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death
By Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown. 1996. Little, Brown.
This book offers a straightforward introduction to death and dying for young children. Bright illustrations accompany honest answers to questions children may have about death, including “Why does someone die?” and “What does dead mean?”
You Hold Me and I’ll Hold You
By Jo Carson. Illus. by Annie Cannon. 1992. Orchard.
At her great-aunt’s memorial service, a young girl is overwhelmed by the formal setting and emotions of relatives. But she is able to find comfort in holding and being held by her father.