Books to read with children about death….

There are many, many books for children about the topic of death and grief.  Here is a brief list of books that address issues in a more general way.  Don’t want to buy more books?  Then check-out your local library or YouTube for video of your book being read…. 

Beginnings and Endings with Lifetimes in Between – By Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen

“There is a beginning and an ending for everything that is alive.  In between is living”.

A gentle, yet matter-of-fact book, about the cycle of life for all living things.  Presented with beautiful illustrations, this story is about the lifetimes of trees, plants, insects, rabbits, fish, and of course humans.  It acknowledges that different species have different lifetimes and that while living creatures mostly recover from being hurt or ill, that sometimes they may die, and that while this is sad, it is how things are.  This is a story for all situations, death of animals or people, young or old.  It is suitable for those children with recent experience of death or for general understanding, and for families with or without religious beliefs.  We have a copy at our office if you care to take a look….

The Goodbye Book – By Todd Parr

“It’s hard to say goodbye to someone. You might not know what to feel”.

This book about grief and loss features a goldfish who has lost its companion. The story clearly illustrates some different feelings and behaviours someone might experience in grief. It normalises these responses in a way that children may relate to. The story goes on with an optimistic attitude regarding how people can cope with grief and behaviours that might be helpful in the process, such as drawing or talking to someone. The book finishes with an important message regarding memories and love.

The Funeral – By Matt Jones

“There was also a table covered with framed pictures.  They were of Uncle Frank”.

A story about a girl called Norma who is going to her great-uncle’s Funeral.  She feels sad but also is looking forward to seeing her cousin and having time off school.  This story references specific things that might happen at a funeral, the rituals involved, and the mixed feelings that children might experience.  This book could be helpful in aiding conversations around funerals, the way a child might make sense of this confusing event, and helping to prepare or reflect on their own experience.  This story does not focus on the intense emotions that would arise following the death of a close relative, rather the experience of being involved in the funeral of someone more distant. 

 The Invisible String – By Patrice Karst and Geoff Stevenson

“People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love”.

Has book has been reviewed by us previously in relation to separation anxiety.  A wonderful book that illustrates a way to foster an ongoing connection to loved ones (family, friends or pets) who are not physically present, be it due to a temporary absence or death.  This book emphasises the power of love as a way to feel connected to someone.  Using the idea of being connected by an ‘invisible string’ and with simple illustrations, this is appropriate for younger children, although the concept can be comfortably applied to all ages.  There is a brief reference to Heaven, and how we can still feel connected to those in Heaven, but the story could be generalised in families with different beliefs.  We also have this one in our office…

Karri Stewart

Karri is a Clinical Psychologist who works with children, adolescents and adults on a wide range of presenting problems.When working with clients she endeavours to tailor treatments to individual client needs by incorporating the interests and strengths of clients with best practice treatment guidelines.
Karri Stewart