Suggested reading list for children

Using stories and activities can be a really good way to explore issues with a child who has been bereaved. Here is a list of books, which have been found to be helpful when working with bereaved children, young people and their families.

All of the following books are available from Rosedale.

View our suggested reading list for bereaved families

View our suggested reading list for adults

Books for children under the age of 5

Dear Grandma Bunny

Written and illustrated by Dick Bruna

This book with its simple illustrations and gentle words explains clearly to a child the concept of death and the fact it is ok to be sad.  This book looks at what happens at a funeral when there is a burial.

I Miss You: A First Look at Death

By Pat Thomas & illustrated by Lesley Harker, 2001. Barron’s Educational Series.

This bright and colourful picture book very simply talks about life and death. It briefly covers a range of issues such as why people die, how you may feel when someone dies and what happens afterwards. It includes questions for the reader to answer about their own experiences and a section at the back for adults on how to best use the book. An excellent educational book, which could be used as a starting point for discussion.

When Uncle Bob Died (Talking it Through)

By Althea & illustrated by Lisa Kopper, 2001. Happy Cat Books Ltd.

A young boy talks about death and about Uncle Bob who died from an illness. It clearly explains some basic facts such as what ‘dead’ means and what a funeral is. It also talks about feelings and memories. This small picture book would be a good starting point for very young children with lots of opportunity for further discussion.

Missing Mummy: A book about bereavement

By Rebecca Cobb. Macmillan.

Beautifully illustrated and with moments of wonderful warmth, this is a touching, honest and helpful book about losing a parent. “Missing Mummy” comes with guidance notes for using with children age 3 upwards.

Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?

By Elke & Alex Barber.  Illustrated by Anne Jarvis, 2012.

Explaining sudden death to pre-school children in words they can understand.  A true story.  Alex is only three when his father suddenly suffers a massive heart attack.  All on his own, he manages to get help, but his beloved Daddy dies at the scene.  Completely honest and written in Alex’s own words, this book tells the story of how his mum helps him understand what happened.

Someone I know has died

By Trish Phillips. Only available from The Child Bereavement Charity or Rosedale Funeral Home.

This activity book is designed to be used with very young children who need help to understand what being dead means, what we do and how we might feel when someone dies. Some pages are interactive in ways familiar to young children, making it very easy for a child to engage with.  To be used with an adult, guidance notes are included.

Where Are You

A child’s book about loss by Laura Olivieri

This book enables an adult to talk to a young child about death in a kind way enabling questions to be asked, written by a mum who herself had to explain to her son his dad had died.

What Happened to Daddy’s Body

By Elke & Alex Barber.  Illustrated by Anne Jarvis, 2014. 

This is a true story exploring the concept of death after Alex’s father suffers a fatal heart attack.  Using ideas, very young children can understand it gently, sensitively and honestly explains what happens after death.  Explaining to children it is ok to be sad but also ok to be happy.

Books for children aged 5 to 8 years

Always and Forever

By Alan Durant & illustrated by Debi Gliori, 2003.

Otter, Mole and Hare miss Fox when he falls ill and dies. They stay at home and don’t want to talk about him because it makes them sadder. Then Squirrel visits and reminds them of all the fun times they had together.  They all find a way to remember Fox and get on with their lives. Colourful, detailed pictures in this book emphasise the importance of holding on to memories.

Badger’s Parting Gifts

By Susan Varley, 1992. Picture Lions.

Badger is old and knows he is going to die soon. When he does, the other animals think they will be sad forever, but they begin to talk about the memories they have of the things Badger taught them and learn to cope with his death.  A lovely picture book that emphasises the importance of remembering the person who has died.

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death 

By Laurie Krasny & illustrated by Marc Brown, 1998. Time Warner Trade Publishing.

This factual picture book uses cartoon dinosaurs to illustrate the text and comment on what is said. It is a bright and colourful book that explains death in a simple and non-threatening way. It covers many issues including ‘why does someone die?’, ‘feelings about death’ and ‘saying goodbye’. It would be an excellent resource for anyone caring for young children.

I Miss My Sister

By Sarah Courtauld & illustrated by Holly Surplice. Only available from The Child Bereavement Charity or Rosedale Funeral Home.

A young girl’s sister has died and the impact on her and her family is sensitively illustrated with minimum text. Designed to be shared with an adult, it will help to start conversations, answer questions and allay any fears.  The beautiful and expressive colour illustration help to guide the child through the different emotions they may encounter following the death of a sibling, as well as the different categories of grief over a period of time.

Someone I know has died

By Trish Phillips. Only available from The Child Bereavement Charity or Rosedale Funeral Home.

This activity book is designed to be used with very young children who need help to understand what being dead means, what we do and how we might feel when someone dies. Some pages are interactive in ways familiar to young children, making it very easy for a child to engage with.  To be used with an adult, guidance notes are included.

Remembering        

By Dianne Leutner, illustrated by Danial Postgate.

A memory keepsake book for bereaved children for when someone special in their life has died.

If all the world were

By Joseph Coelho & Alison Colpoys

A poetic picture book about the love between a little girl and her Grandad, and how, through memories, love can live on.

An Inquest for Mr Rabbit

By Cruse Bereavement Care, illustrated by Jan Barger

Designed especially for younger (primary school age) children, this little booklet explains the process of a Coroner’s inquest.  The simple story tells how Mr Rabbit died on holiday in France, and what happened afterwards in simple language.

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

By Michael Rosen & Quentin Blake

We all have sad stuff – maybe you have some right now, as you read this.  What makes Michael Rosen most sad is thinking about his son Eddie, who died.  In this book he writes about sadness, how it affects him and some of the things he does to try and cope with it.  This is a very personal story that speaks to everyone; whether or not you have known what it’s like to feel really, deeply sad, its truth will surely touch you.

Gentle Willow

A Story for Children About Dying

By Joyce C Mills, illustrated by Cary Pillo

‘Gentle Willow’ is a book for children who may not survive their illness.  The comforting story about a tender-spirited tree and her friends in the forest will also help all children with the death of friends, family members, or even pets.  A healing metaphor, it addresses our feelings of sadness, love, disbelief and anger and provides children with a transformational way of viewing death and dying.

Books for children aged 9 to 12 years

Milly’s Bug Nut  

By Jill Janey, 2002. Winston’s Wish.

A short, simple story with black and white pictures, of a young girl who’s Dad has died.  It talks about the ups and downs of family life and how things slowly get easier as time goes.  Milly misses her Dad and things are just not the same any more.  She knows when people die, they can’t come back but she still keeps a wish to see her Dad one more time.

Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining death to children             

By Doris Stickney & illustrated by Gloria Stickney, 1983. Continuum International Pub Group.

This pocket size booklet with small black and white pictures is based on a fable, associating death with a water bug’s transformation into a dragonfly. It portrays the mystery around death but may need an adult to explain the analogy and help a child relate it to their own experience. It uses Christian beliefs with a focus on life after death and also contains advice for parents.

Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine

By Diana Crossley and Kate Sheppard.

An activity book to help when someone has died, offering 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.

When Someone You Love Dies

By Cruse Bereavement Care

A pocket sized booklet aimed to help guide young people through the loss of a loved one.

Remembering Mum

By Ginny Perkins & Leon Morris

Sam and Eddy’s Mum died a little while ago.  Her name was Mandy.  With their Dad, Sam and Eddy helped to make this special book for her.  It’s about how they made a garden of Mandy’s favourite flowers and how they remember her at the cemetery, at home and at school.

The Heart and the Bottle

By Oliver Jeffers

In this deeply moving story, Oliver Jeffers deals with the weighty themes of love and loss with an extraordinary lightness of touch and shows us, ultimately, that there is always hope.

Goodbye Grandma

By Melanie Walsh

Helping young children cope with bereavement

When my Mum told me that my grandma had died, I didn’t know what she meant.  She helped me to understand and now I know how I can remember Grandma.  Straightforward and reassuring.  A brilliant book for use at the time of bereavement and a starting point for discussion with young children.

Love Will Never Die

By Clare Shaw

This book enables a child to work through their emotions asking thought provoking questions and encouraging them to explore their inner feelings.  Lots of space in this book for writing and drawing.  A brilliant resource for pastoral support workers in schools.

 

Books for children aged 13 to 16 years

The Grieving Teen:  A Guide for Teenagers and their Friends

By Helen Fitzgerald

Although the circumstances surrounding a death are difficult to handle at any age, adolescence brings with it challenges and struggles that until now have been largely overlooked.  But in this unique and compassionate guide, renowned grief counsellor Helen Fitzgerald turns her attention to the special needs of adolescents struggling with loss and gives them the tools they need to work through their pain and grief.

When a Friend Dies:  A Book for Teens about Grieving and Healing

By Marilyn Gootman

The advice is firm but gentle, non judgemental and compassionate.  The death of a friend is a wrenching event for anyone at any age.  Teenagers especially need help coping with this painful loss.  This thoughtful and helpful book answers questions about grieving that teenagers often have, like “How should I be acting?” “Is it wrong to go to parties and have fun?”  “What if I can’t handle my grief on my own?”  This book is suitable for age 11 and up, and for parents and teachers too.

Up on Cloud Nine

By Anne Fine, 2003. Corgi Children’s.

Stol falls out of a top floor window and ends up unconscious in hospital with lots of broken bones and no-one knows whether it was attempted suicide or an accident. This book is written from the perspective of his best friend Ian whilst he is sitting by his bedside. He recalls all the fun times they have had together as well as acknowledging the slightly different way Stol sees the world. Ian captures the emotions of his own adoptive parents as well as Stol’s family and the hospital staff in an amusing yet moving way illustrating how Stol has had an inspirational effect on everyone. (Also available in audio cassette)

And When Did You Last See Your Father

By Blake Morrison, 2006. Granta Books.

The book tells of how Dr Morrisons life slowly slips away during the last few weeks of his life. Interspersed with this are the authors recollections of his Father, who whilst being a difficult man at times, always remained a loving Husband and Father. The author is at all times open and honest – sometimes brutally so – and lays open his feelings for all to share.
One of the strengths of the book is that whilst it is about the death of a loved one it never gets too mawkish or sentimental and remains at all times a good read.

Straight talk about death for teenagers.

By Earl A Grollman.

Suggests ways to deal with grief and other emotions felt after the death of a loved one and to discover how to go on living.

The Healing Your Grieving Heart:  Journal for Teens

By Alan D Wolfelt & Megan E Wolfelt

This unique guided journal encourages teens to learn about grief and mourning then write down their unique thoughts and feelings.  Topics covered include:  what makes each teen’s grief unique;  common feelings after a death; the six needs of mourning; capturing memories of the person who died; and achieving reconciliation.

This journal will be comforting, affirming and healing presence for the weeks, months and years after the death of someone loved.

Out of the Blue

By Julie Stokes & Paul Oxley

Every year, thousands of young people face life after someone important to them dies. ‘Out of the Blue’ is a collection of tried and tested ideas to help young people remember the person who died and to help express their thoughts and feelings.

When Someone Special Dies

By Child Bereavement UK

This leaflet has been prepared with the help of bereaved families.  It aims to help children when they have been bereaved.

My Mother Died:  A Booklet for Young People

By Cruse Bereavement Care

A Cruse counsellor speaks directly to older children and teenagers about feelings and problems after the death of a Mother.

My Father Died:  A Booklet for Young People

By Cruse Bereavement Care

A Cruse counsellor speaks directly to older children and teenagers about feelings and problems after the death of a Father.