Suggested reading list for families

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 children

View our suggested reading list for adults

When someone is seriously ill

The Secret C                                    

By Julie A. Stokes & illustrated by Peter Bailey, 2000. Winston’s Wish.

The Secret C attempts to answer some of the questions and worries a child may have about cancer, especially when it involves someone in the family. This reassuring book will help adults and children to talk about the difficult issues and feelings involved when someone is seriously ill and briefly talks about the possibility of death.

As Big As It Gets: Supporting a child when someone in their family is seriously ill

By Julie Stokes & Diana Crossley, 2001. Winston’s Wish.

An information booklet to help families cope with the serious illness of a parent or child. It provides a range of ideas for parents or carers so that they feel more able to explain to their children what is happening, giving some suggestions to what parents might say to children and how to offer support.

The death of a new baby

Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Society (SANDS):  Bereavement Support Pack

SANDS Bereavement Support Pack includes a copy of each of their support booklets including Saying Goodbye to your Baby, Mainly for Fathers, Information and support for Grandparents, Deciding about a post mortem, and leaflets including About the Other Children, For Family and Friends, Spotlight on Sands and Footprints.

Fathers Feel Too:  A Book for Men by Men on Coping with the Death of a Baby

By Andrew Don

When Andrew Don’s baby Lara Jean died at five months in the womb, the hospital consultant sent his wife a condolence letter which didn’t mention him.  Andrew felt like a non-person.

He writes “Lara Jean was my baby, too.  I’d read the books and seen the movie.  I was prepared for fully-fledged fatherhood and had signed up for the full deal.”  But Andrew felt his intense grief was not taken seriously, that he was expected to take it in his stride.  Seven years on he turned his experience into a book telling the stories of 10 men who have lost babies either during pregnancy, at birth or during the first year of life.

When a Baby Dies:  The Experience of Late Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Neonatal Death

By Nancy Kohner & Alix Hanley

This sensitive informative book offers a lifeline to bereaved parents and their families and is essential reading for every professional who comes into contact with parents after the death of their baby.  Using letters from and interviews with many bereaved parents the authors have written a book, which offers understanding of what is means for a baby to die and the grief that follows.  When a Baby Dies also contains valuable information and causes of death, hospital practices, sources of support, and the care parents need in future pregnancies.


A little booklet entitled caring in which a mother whose baby died has written down useful advice about hospital procedures, choices available, possible feelings both physical and emotional and available sources of support.


A special keepsake booklet for recording special memories of your baby.

Returning to work after the death of your baby or child.

Guidance leaflets for employees and employers published by the Child bereavement Charity.

Supporting a child bereaved through murder or manslaughter

Hope Beyond the Headlines:         

Winston’s Wish

This new booklet 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.

Bereaved Through Suicide

Beyond the Rough Rock: Supporting a child who has been bereaved through suicide

By Diana Crossley & Julie Stokes, 2001. Winston’s Wish.

An information booklet offering practical advice for families where someone has died by suicide. It aims to give parents and professionals the confidence to involve children in discussions about the nature of death by suicide. It also includes activities for children to do with the family to stat making sense of what has happened.

Luna’s Red Hat:  To Help Children Cope with Loss and Suicide

By Emmi Smid

This storybook is designed to be read with children 6+ who have experienced the loss of a loved one by suicide.  It includes a guide for parents and professionals by bereavement expert, DR Riet Fiddelaers-Jaspers.

Red Chocolate Elephants:  For Children Bereaved by Suicide

By Diana C Sands

A book with an accompanying DVD.  In this moving and beautiful book, children write and draw what it was like losing a parent to suicide.  With disarming directness they offer insights for other children facing such tragedy, for parents, carers and therapists supporting such children, and for anyone responding to suicide of grief and seeking to continue in life.  Red Chocolate Elephants is a most therapeutic gift.

When someone has died in a road crash

Someone has Died in a Road Crash

By Mary Wiliams OBE and Caroline Chisholm

A much needed guide to help children deal with and understand their grief. Produced by BRAKE the road safety charity.

Sibling Bereavement

Sibling Bereavement:  Helping Children Cope with Loss

By Ann Farrant

The emotional effect of losing a brother or sister can result in severe trauma for a child.  The book written from personal experience insists that there is no ‘right’ way for parents to behave towards surviving children.  It looks at the many and various effects of sibling bereavement as it bears upon the whole family:  the repercussions of lack of support; surviving children who act as comforters to their parents; guilt; projections of anger; unresolved conflicts; consequent family relationships; and children who can’t or won’t mourn.

For Adults Supporting a Bereaved Child

A Child’s Grief:  Supporting a Child When Someone in their Family Has Died

By Julie Stokes & Diana Crossley, 2001.  Winston’s Wish

An information booklet for an adult who is supporting a child through bereavement.  It covers a variety of issues that may affect a child when someone close to them dies.  It also includes practical suggestions and ideas for activities to do together with a child.

Grief in Children:  A Handbook for Adults

By Atle Dyregov, 1991.  Jessica Kingsley Publishers

There is a very practical and useful book written for adults to help them understand how children feel when someone important in their life dies.  It covers areas such as children’s grief reactions at different developmental levels, sex differences and different types of death.  It makes many useful suggestions about how children can be helped to cope with their grief in an open, honest and positive way.

Support for Schools

The Little Book of Bereavement for School

By Ian Gilbert

This book is written by best-selling author Ian Gilbert together with his three children.  It is a very personal account of the way educational institutions tried and succeeded, tried and failed, and sometimes didn’t try at all to help William, Olivia and Phoebe come to terms with the death of their mother.

Grief in School Communities:  Effective Support Strategies

By Louise Rowling

In the preface, the author expresses a hope that the book will provide individuals and schools communities with the means to create environments in which grief, while a difficult experience, is seen as a normal life event.  Towling’s book does just this.  Instead of presenting a targeted intervention for young people at risk, the emphasis is on helping all the school population in a variety of ways.

A Student Dies, A School Mourns:  Dealing with Death and Loss in the School Community

By Ralph Klicker 

Among the abundance of material available about death and dying, there is a very limited amount that deals directly with the needs of a school community when one of its members dies.  In addition, a great need exists for schools to develop an organised plan for responding to the death of a student or staff member.  The book aims to fill this gap.  It not only examines and explains the grief reactions of students and school staff members, and the factors that affect these reactions, it also provides a systematic guide for developing a death-related crisis response plan.