Our Children’s Bereavement Counsellors have put together a list of resources which might be useful, each child and each book is different and we would encourage you to read the blurb and ‘about’ section of the book before purchasing. Whilst we have added links to purchase options on the list below, we would always advise you to shop around to get the best deal as there may be alternative retailers which we have not listed. You may also be able to find other resources online or through your local library which may mean you can access some of these resources for free.
Please note: The blurbs and images for each of the books below have been taken from their websites.
Start the Conversation with a Child
Many of the books on this list come with guides on how to speak with your children about death. We would suggest you look through these guides to help you come up with language and wording that may be of comfort to your children. The guides may also help a child learn how to offer condolences to their peers who are grieving a loss.
Not every book on this list will resonate with every child. If your child is grieving the death of a loved one, consider purchasing several different books from this list. Even if a child dislikes a book while in the early stages of the grieving process, they may appreciate it more as time passes.
You can also start the conversation with a friend, family member, or another loved one by sharing your end-of-life wishes.
Additionally, some of the books on this list are specified to a certain age group/key stage, however they may be interchangeable/applicable with other age groups. This is especially so with the 3-7 year old section. Of course, you will know your own child/the child you are supporting best and will have an idea of what may work for them.
Books about bereavement for children aged: Under 3
Never Too Young To Grieve by Winston’s Wish
This specialist book is designed for parents, carers, childcare professionals and other adults supporting children under five who have experienced the death of a parent or carer.
It offers information and ideas as well as activities to help young children following a bereavement and covers a range of issues that may affect a child when their parent dies.
A Child's Grief by Winston’s Wish
This specialist book offers practical guidance and resources for any adult who is supporting a child after someone has died. It covers a range of topics, including talking to children (especially primary school age children) about death and the feelings, thoughts and behaviours grieving children may have.
Books about bereavement for children aged: 3 -7
Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler’s Guide to Understanding Death by Bonnie Zucker
School-aged children usually have enough background knowledge to understand the concept of death. This may not be true for a 2 or 3-year-old. Finding books for toddlers that cover death is sometimes tricky.
The book is written so the adult reader can insert the appropriate pronoun and name of the person who died when sharing the book with a child.
Written by a licensed psychologist, this book discusses the feelings and emotions that come with losing someone we love.
God Gave Us Heaven by Lisa T. Bergren and Laura J. Bryant
Written for children from ages 3 to 7, this book describes death from a Christian context. The book tells children how Heaven is a place a person arrives at after crossing a bridge that is made by Jesus.
Besides describing Heaven, the book also explains the differences between angels and people. It says that although most of the time, older people are the ones who die, sometimes bad things happen that cause young people to leave this Earth too.
This book is a good choice for a Christian parent trying to find children’s books about the death of a grandparent.
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
This book can be read to any child who is suffering from loss or separation, whether the separation occurs as a result of divorce, deployment, or death. This book describes how we are still connected to the people we love, even if we don’t see them.
It is worth noting that the author does mention heaven in the story, which may or may not coincide with the reader’s beliefs. Although heaven is mentioned, the author does not explicitly mention death within the text of the book.
Happily Ever Hereafter: A Muslim Children’s Book about Life After Death by Noor Kids
Happily Ever Hereafter describes death from an Islamic viewpoint. It discusses the emotions associated with death. At the same time, it outlines how making good choices on Earth will lead to a happy hereafter.
When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers
Yes, the Fred Rogers wrote a book about the death of a pet appropriate for a preschool audience. Even though When a Pet Dies does focus on the death of animals, the gentle handling of death in this book may help your preschooler begin to understand the end of human life as well.
Mr. Rogers discusses the full range of emotions that we all may feel when we experience loss. Even though not written to address the loss of human life, it helps to introduce the concept of death in general.
Someone I Loved Died by Christine Harder Tangvald
Someone I Loved Died was written for children aged 4 to 8 who are dealing with grief and loss. This book, written in the Christian perspective, allows children to create a keepsake about the person they lost.
This fill-in-the-blank book allows children to share memories and images of the deceased. At the same time, it also teaches about the Biblical promise of salvation.
The Memory Box: A Book About Grief by Joanna Rowland
Written for children aged 4 to 8, The Memory Box encourages a grief-stricken reader to collect mementos of the loved one who died. The Memory Box speaks to all the readers who are scared they will forget the little things that made their loved one special.
The book includes a parents’ guide that gives readers ideas on how to help their children process loss and grief caused by the death of a loved one.
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie
Bryan Mellonie’s book focuses less on the emotional side of death, but instead explains that death is a natural, biological occurrence. The book teaches children that just as plants and animals have finite life spans, so do people.
Illustrations of nature accompany the text of the book.
Lifetimes would appeal to people who prefer to view death as a natural part of the lifecycle as there are no religious undertones.
The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr
Parents will recognize the brightly colored illustrations that accompany The Goodbye Book. The author and illustrator Todd Parr has created more than 45 books for children. This particular book is about a fish who has lost his companion.
Although the loss written about in this book is not necessarily the result of a death, the fish still goes through a wide variety of emotions. Besides feeling joyless, the fish also goes through denial and anger as a result of his loss.
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages by Leo Buscaglia
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf tells the story of how Freddie and those around him change through the passing seasons. The allegory finishes with Freddie falling to the ground with the winter snow.
Buscaglia’s book seems to bring out strong opinions from all readers. Some view this discussion of death as heartfelt and sensitive, while others describe it as cold and depressing. Although the description of death is from a secular perspective, those in the religious communities seem to recommend it, as well.
Gentle Willow: A Story for Children About Dying by Joyce C. Mills
Gentle Willow tells the story of a squirrel that is upset at the idea of losing her friend, a giant willow tree. The Gentle Willow suffers from a terminal illness, and the book helps children understand that sometimes people have a sickness that doesn’t go away.
This book is appropriate for several different audiences. It can be read to children who have a close relationship with someone who has cancer. It is also suitable to read to children with a terminal illness as well.
There are no religious references in Gentle Willow.
Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
This beautifully illustrated book by Nancy Tillman speaks to the unconditional love between a parent and a child. Like other books on this list, the separation between the child and the person they love may not be due to death.
Although Wherever You Are is written with a younger audience in mind, the timeless message will resonate with people of all ages.
Ida, Always by Caron Levis
Ida, Always – explores the range of emotions surrounding illness and death by telling the story through the eyes of animals. The story is based on 2 real-life polar bears that lived in a zoo in New York City. When Ida dies from a terminal illness, Gus, another polar bear, has to learn to cope with the grief. Does not have any religious undertones or references.
I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas
Pat Thomas, a psychotherapist and counselor, wrote I Miss You for kids ages 4 to 7. While some books for this age group may use metaphors, allegory, or non-human characters to describe the process of death. This book, on the other hand, does not.
The illustrations in the book show children experiencing grief and sadness. The book also speaks of the regret or guilt that survivors sometimes feel for treating the deceased poorly when they were alive.
When I’m With Jesus: For any Child with a Loved One in Heaven by Kimberly Rae
When I’m With Jesus helps children view the transition to heaven as a happy event. The book is written in the voice of a deceased mother speaking to her child. The book has a dedication that allows the giver to personalize the book for the child.
The overall message of the book is about the joy the deceased will feel in heaven. At the same time, the author’s words will help children realize that they are still loved even after a significant person dies.
Where do you come from? By Helen Patuck
This story is aimed at newcomer children coming to the UK and Ireland who are experiencing grief and separation
Muddles, Puddles and sunshine by Diana Crossley
Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine offers practical and sensitive support for bereaved children. Beautifully illustrated, it suggests a helpful series of activities and exercises accompanied by the friendly characters of Bee and Bear. This book offers a structure and an outlet for the many difficult feelings which inevitably follow when someone dies. It aims to help children make sense of their experience by reflecting on the different aspects of their grief, whilst finding a balance between remembering and having fun. This book is a useful companion in the present, and will become an invaluable keepsake in the years to come.
Books about bereavement for children aged: 8-13
You Will Be Ok By Julia Stokes
The death of a parent, sibling or friend is one of the most traumatic experiences for a child or young person and it can be hard to know how to talk to them about it. In this honest, comforting and strength-building guide Julie Stokes, a clinical psychologist and founder of childhood bereavement charity Winston’s Wish, provides readers with the tools they need to navigate this tough and turbulent time.
As Big As It Gets by Winston’s Wish
This specialist book offers practical guidance for families and professionals when someone is seriously ill and may die. Building on our experience of working with families both before and after a death, it covers talking with children about what is happening and what will happen and offers an overview of some of the feelings and thoughts people may have.
The Secret C by Julie A Stokes
This booklet about cancer is informative and sensitively illustrated. It emphasises the different kinds of questions that children often ask and also makes it clear that no one is to blame for cancer and that it is important to find time to live life normally when things are chaotic in the family.
Bad Time Rhymes by Grief Encounter
A book of poems by children in order to offer comfort to children and young people who have been bereaved. It is a result of a national poetry competition and beautifully illustrated. Giving children and young people this book is one way to help them rebuild their lives. It is also a useful resource to help in the teaching about loss and writing poetry.
Remembering: Providing Support for Children Aged 8 to 13 Who Have Experienced Loss and Bereavement
All children experience loss, often a death or a family separation; sometimes a friend moves away or a pet dies. Loss is the inevitable consequence of the positive experience of attachment. In this beautiful book Tina and Lorna offer teachers a resource that will support their understanding of the process and facilitate a range of activities which:
– acknowledge the experience of loss
– allow the expression of pain, fear, sadness
– present the process as a shared experience
– encourage communication
– facililate recovery.
This range of sensitive, positive and emotionally literate activities can be used in whole class, small group or individual settings and sit well in several primary and secondary PSCHE curriculum areas.
Although this is a secular book, it does list different religious beliefs around death.There is one quote taken from the Qur’an used in a non-religious context
Teen Grief: Caring for the Grieving Teenage Heart by Gary Roe
Multiple award-winning author, speaker, and grief specialist Gary Roe is a compassionate and trusted voice in grief recovery who has been bringing comfort, hope, encouragement, and healing to hurting, wounded hearts for many years. He created Teen Grief at the request of parents, teachers, coaches, and school counsellors.
You Just Don't Understand
This specialist book from Winston’s Wish offers practical advice for families and professionals supporting bereaved teenagers. It aims to help you understand what is normal adolescent development, and to recognise the additional problems teenagers may face if someone important dies during these years.
Books about bereavement for children aged 14 – 17
Out of the Blue by Julie Stokes and Paul Oxley
This book has been written and designed specifically for teenagers with aim of supporting them through their bereavement using a range of activities.
Narrated throughout by teenagers words and stories, the book talks openly about the real feelings they may struggle with when someone important in their life dies. The activities in the book allow those feelings to be worked through and safely explored. Each character in the book reinforces the message that “I’m not alone”. Out of the Blue can be completed by a teenager on their own or with the help of a family member or appropriate professional.
Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers by Earl A. Grolmann
If you are a teenager whose friend or relative has died, this book was written for you. Earl A. Grollman, the award-winning author of Living When a Loved One Has Died, explains what to expect when you lose someone you love.
A Mind Full of Grief by Clare Shaw
When someone you love dies, what happens next? As a teenager or young adult, this can be such a confusing time. So many emotions you may not have felt before. So much confusion. This book will help you through. Filled with practical and honest information but without overloading.
Preparing a Child for Loss by Macmillan
This booklet was produced with Winston’s Wish for parents who have a diagnosis of terminal cancer and are nearing the end of life. It aims to support them in having the difficult conversations necessary to prepare a child for the death of a parent or close family member.
We all Grieve by Winston’s Wish
This book is designed for parents, carers, educational professionals and other adults supporting children and young adults with SEND who have experienced the death of someone close to them. It offers information, practical suggestions and ideas for activities, as well as where to find other support.
Hope Beyond the Headlines by Winston’s Wish
This specialist book offers practical advice for families in the immediate days, weeks and months following a murder. It is written for both parents and professionals, giving them the confidence to involve children and young people in understanding and managing the particular difficulties and complexities that so often surround a death by murder or manslaughter.
The booklet includes child-friendly activities to do with children or as a family to help them to make sense of what has happened and to begin to express their grief.
Beyond the Rough Rock by Winston’s Wish
Explaining to a child that someone has died by suicide is possibly one of the most difficult situations that a parent or carer might ever face. This specialist book offers practical advice for families in the immediate days and weeks following a death by suicide.
Packed with guidance and information, this book gives parents and professionals the confidence to involve children in discussions about the nature of a death by suicide. It includes practical activities for families as they begin to make sense of what has happened and start to look at ways in which their family can learn to cope.
The Family Have Been Informed
Supported by Help for Heroes this specialist book offers information and guidance to military families after someone has died, and the professionals who are supporting them.
Building on our experience of working with bereaved families, it covers the variety of causes of death that service personnel and their families may experience and offers an overview of some of the feelings and thoughts people may have. Practical guidance, ideas for activities and suggestions for helpful resources are offered alongside where to find support.