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Books for and about grieving children

Reading story books about death can help a child learn more and realise they’re not alone. We’ve also included a short reading list below. Some of these books are intended for adults, and some are for teens. A more detailed reading list for teenagers can be found here.

If you’re a child who’s recently lost someone close, please get in touch with one of the charities listed at the bottom of this page.

On this page:

Healing children’s grief: surviving a parent’s death from cancer (2000) by Grace H Christ (Oxford University Inc. USA, £19.99)

This book will help adults better understand how children process grief. The author uses academic research methods to study the mourning process in different age groups, including their changing interactions with family and friends and their support needs.

Grief in children: a handbook for adults (1991) by Atle Dyregrov (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, UK, £12.95)

Similar to the previous book, this helps adults understand the different physical and psychological reactions in children when someone dies.

When someone has a very serious illness: children can learn to cope with loss and change (1991) by Marge Heegaard (Woodland Press, USA, £5.99)

A book that was created to help children understand the changes when someone in their family has a serious illness. Each section of text has a blank space underneath for children to illustrate and show their own feelings about what’s happened.

When someone very special dies: children can learn to cope with grief (1988) by Marge Heegaard (Woodland Press, USA, £5.99)

This book helps children come to terms with their grief by drawing what they’re feeling.

What Does Dead Mean?: A Book for Young Children to Help Explain Death and Dying (2012) by Caroline Jay and Jenni Thomas  (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, UK, £9.99)

This book guides children through questions they often ask about death and dying. It’s suitable for children aged four and above and is an ideal book for parents and carers to read with their children. It’s also suitable for teachers, therapists and counsellors working with young children.

Gentle Willow: A Story for Children about Dying (2003) by Joyce C. Mills (Magination Press, USA, £8.95)

Written for children who may not survive their illness or for the children who know them, this tale helps address feelings of disbelief, anger, and sadness, along with love and compassion. Amanda and Little Tree discover that their friend Gentle Willow isn't feeling very well.

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book (2011) by Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake  (Walker Books, UK, £5.99)

This chronicles Michael's grief at the death of his son Eddie from meningitis at the age of 19. A moving combination of sincerity and simplicity, it acknowledges that sadness is not always avoidable or reasonable and explains complicated feelings in simple terms.

Overcoming Loss by Julia Sorensen (2008) (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, UK, £19.99)
This book is full of creative and play-based activities to help children understand and come to terms with different emotions including shame, anger and jealousy.

Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies (1999) by Janis Silverman  (Fairview Press, USA, £8.99)

An art therapy and activity book for children coping with death. Sensitive exercises address all the questions children may have during this emotional and troubling crisis. Children are encouraged to express in pictures what they’re often incapable of expressing in words.

As big as it gets: supporting a child when a parent is seriously ill (1997) by Julie A. Stokes (Winston’s Wish, UK, £5.99)

Provides ideas for parents and carers so that they can involve their children in what is happening. The book also includes some suggestions about what parents might say to children and how to offer support.

Badger’s parting gifts (1984) by Susan Varley (Anderson Press, UK, £6.99)

Many families have found this book useful when helping children to come to terms with the death of someone close. It tells the story of Badger’s peaceful death and his friends remembering what Badger taught them while he was alive.

Never too young to know: death in children’s lives (1999) by Phyllis Silverman (Oxford University, Press Inc, USA, £16)

This book includes children’s stories of how they’ve coped with death, but is intended for an adult audience.

A child’s grief: supporting a child when someone in their family has died (2009) by Di Stubbs (Winston’s Wish, UK, £6.95)

This book covers a variety of issues that may affect a child when a person close to them dies, both immediately and in the longer term. It also has practical suggestions and ideas for activities to do together.

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Books for adults

Healing children’s grief: surviving a parent’s death from cancer by Grace H Christ (2000) (Oxford University Inc. USA, £19.99)

This book will help adults better understand how children process grief. The author uses academic research methods to study the mourning process in different age groups, including their changing interactions with family and friends and their support needs.

Grief in children: a handbook for adults by Atle Dyregrov, (1991) (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, UK, £12.95)

Similar to the previous book, this helps adults understand the different physical and psychological reactions in children when someone dies.

Never too young to know: death in children’s lives by Phyllis Silverman (1999) (Oxford University, Press Inc, USA, £16)

Silverman’s book includes children’s stories of how they’ve coped with death, but is intended for an adult audience.

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