Thematic Reading List: Grief and Young Children
Though it is not easy to talk about, young children experience grief just like adults do. However, it is newer to them and may not be something that they have the tools to manage. Books are a great way to help children understand what grief is, that it is ok to grieve, and how to continue living while still honoring the memory of a loved one. These books are for elementary school children and include a variety of titles about this subject.
Contributed by: Mary Lanni
By: Veronika Martenova Charles
Illustrated by: Annouchka Gravel Galouchko
When his family dies suddenly, Noor Nobi, a humble tailor in Calcutta, India, finds a way to mend his broken heart by purchasing, healing, and releasing illegally caged birds. Based on a true story.
|The Blue House Dog
By: Deborah Blumenthal
Illustrated by: Adam Gustavson
A boy whose beloved dog has died, and a dog whose owner also died, find each other and slowly begin to trust one another.
|French Toast Sundays
By: Gloria Spielman
Illustrated by: Inbal Gigi Bousidan
After the loss of her beloved grandmother, Mina finds solace in stories told by family and friends, but her grief is turned into joy when she surprises everyone with Grandma’s famous French toast.
|The Memory Box: a book about grief
By: Joanna Rowland
Illustrated by: Thea Baker
Grieving over the death of a special person, a young child creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one. Includes a guide for parents with information from a Christian perspective on helping manage the complex and difficult emotions children feel when they lose someone they love, as well as suggestions on how to create their own memory box.
|The Memory String
By: Eve Bunting
Illustrated by: Ted Rand
While still grieving for her mother and unable to accept her stepmother, a girl clings to the memories represented by forty-three buttons on a string.
|Michael Rosen’s Sad Book
By: Michael Rosen
Illustrated by: Quentin Blake
A man tells about all the emotions that accompany his sadness over the death of his son, and how he tries to cope.
|My Big, Dumb, Invisible Dragon
By: Angie Lucas
Illustrated by: Birgitta Sif
The day a young boy loses his mother, an invisible dragon swoops in and stays with him, weighing him down day and night until, at last, their relationship changes.
|One Wave at a Time: a story about grief and healing
By: Holly Thompson
Illustrated by: Ashley Crowley
A boy dealing with the loss of his father describes the many waves of emotion that come with the grieving process: sad waves, mad waves, fear waves, even happy waves. As the boy and his family learn to adjust to life without Dad, the waves still come, but with help from friends, they learn to cope and heal.
|Rafi’s Red Racing Car: explaining suicide and grief to young children
By: Louise Moir
Rafi loves playing with his racing cars with his father, so when Daddy becomes sick and takes his life, Rafi needs help understanding and coping with his feelings. Includes notes for caregivers.
|Saying Goodbye to Lulu
By: Corinne Demas
Illustrated by: Ard Hoyt
When her dog Lulu dies, a girl grieves but then continues with her life.
| The Three Lucys
By: Hayan Charara
Illustrated by: Sara Khan
A young Lebanese boy must learn to cope with loss and hope for a peaceful future after losing one of his beloved cats because of The July War. Based on the month-long conflict between Lebanon and Israel during the summer of 2006.
By: Lisa Graff
After her brother Jared dies, ten-year-old Annie worries about the hidden dangers of everything, from bug bites to bicycle riding, until she is befriended by a new neighbor who is grieving her own loss.
| Walking Backward
By: Catherine Austen
Twelve-year-old Josh, his four-and-a-half-year-old brother Sammy, and his Dad struggle to find their own way to grieve his mother’s death after she dies suddenly in an automobile accident but finds that sharing memories and being close as a family is what works best.
| What I Came to Tell You
By: Tommy Hays
Watching his family fall to pieces after his mother’s death, Grover cares for a younger sibling and finds solace in creating intricate bamboo weavings while bonding with neighbors and seeking guidance from a presence that visits Grover in his darkest moments.