Understand grief through great stories.
Stepping into a fictional world can have profound effects on our ability to understand and articulate our own emotions, fears, and hopes. The titles below will help your family approach the issue of death and grief with greater understanding.
You may also want to explore our collection of Picture Books about Death & Grief. This growing list is full of compassionate books that speak to people of every age.
Wondering how to approach a conversation about death and grief?
Visit the Child Development Institute's thoughtful article "How to Talk to Kids About Death." Along with a brief assessment of the developmental stages of understanding death, the guidelines in this article are helpful for anyone approaching the topic from a theoretical perspective.
If you are reaching out to a child who has experienced the loss of a loved one, look for insight at the Dougy Center: The National Center for Grieving Children and Families, especially in this article: "How to Help a Grieving Child."
As always, while reading any of the books below, make time to ask:
How do you think the character is feeling (in various parts of the book)?
How do you think you would feel if you were in that situation?
What did you think of this book?
What questions do you have?
More titles coming soon!
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
This Newbery Medal-winning classic is filled with imagination as well as the untimely loss of a best friend. This exceptional story has guided readers through this painful experience of loss, grief, and acceptance for generations.
Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
Here's another long-standing classic. Charlotte teaches Wilber, and us, so much about friendship, hope, persistence, and ultimately, life and death.
The Five Lives of My Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin
This deceptively light-heated book features Oona, her brother Fred, and their ailing cat Zook. Oona and Fred are grieving for their father, who passed away a year before the action opens in the story. Laugh and cry with them on their journey to come to terms with the tumultuous cycles of life and death.
Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Aliso McGhee
This fantastical, epic story will captivate your whole family. The story is told in alternate voices, one of Jules who is coming to terms with the loss of her sister, the other the shadow fox in the shadow land who is fast, just like Jules' sister.
Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
Rylant's book is a must-read gem, beautifully and painfully exploring the pain of missing someone. You'll join Summer and her Uncle Ob shortly after Aunt May has died. When Ob becomes obsessed with the idea that May's spirit is coming back to him, Summer and her oddball classmate Cletus go on a spiritual mission that changes all of them.
Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Conor tries to cope with his mother's approaching death in this deeply emotional story. Deeply imaginative, readers will enjoy the stories within stories in compelling, page-turner of a book.
The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Join eleven-year-old Suzy in the uncomfortable awkwardness of middle school as she tries to understand why her estranged best-friend died last summer. The ethereal world of jellyfish will captivate readers of every age.
Please share your recommendations in the comments below.
We realize the topics of death and grief are deeply entwined with personal spiritual beliefs, so feel free to share whatever speaks to you and your family. There are likely many others just like you who will be grateful for an additional resource.
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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.