Death and Dying

The books on this bibliography are designed to help parents and children cope with the death of a loved one.  Not every book is appropriate for every child.  We strongly urge caregivers to pre-read a book before sharing it with a young person.

General Non-Fiction:

155.937 BRO          When Dinosaurs Die: a Guide to Understanding Death. Laurene Krasny Brown. Ages

 4-8. Explains in simple language the feelings people may have regarding the death of a loved one and the ways to honor the memory of someone who has died.

155.937 KRO         Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One: a Guide for Grownups.  William Kroen. 

Age-specific advice detailing what children can understand.  Includes a bibliography and resource list.

155.937 SCH          How Do We Tell the Children? A Step by Step Guide for Helping Children Two to Ten Cope When Someone Dies.  Dan Schaeffer and Christine Lyons.
A practical guide for anyone who works with children includes a “Crisis Checklist” with scripted answers to children’s frequently-asked questions.

155.93 JAM           When Children Grieve For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving and Other Losses.  John W. James and Russell Friedman.
Concrete suggestions of things to say and do with a child to help acknowledge the loss and grieve in healthy ways.

155.937 EMS         Guiding your Child through Grief.   Mary Ann Emswiler.
The New England Center for Loss and Transition offers expert advice to help a child grieve the death of a parent or sibling.

155.93 TRO            Talking with Children about Loss -- Words, Strategies, and Wisdom to Help Children Cope with Death, Divorce, and other Difficult Times.   Maria Trozzi. 

155.937 THI           35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child.  The Dougy Center. 
The Dougy Center for the Grieving Child provides 35 practical suggestions for helping children, teens, and their families cope with the loss of a loved one in this short but valuable book.

 155.937 FRY    Part of Me Died, Too – Stories of Creative Survival Among Bereaved Children and Teenagers.     Virginia Fry.  Ages 8 and up.
True stories of young people reflecting on their experiences with the deaths of pets, family members, or friends.  

155.937 SPR           Death. (Preteen Pressures Series)  Barbara Sprung. Ages 8-12. 
Discusses what it feels like to experience the death of a loved one, outlines the stages of grief and mourning, and describes ways to honor or remember someone who has died.

155.937 GID           Coping with Grieving and Loss.  Sandra and Owen Giddens.  Ages 11 and up. 
Offers teens and pre-teens strategies for coping -- explaining the stages of grieving, how to deal with friends and family, the funeral, anger, guilt and depression, changing emotions, and where to go for help.

155.937 GRO          Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers:  How to Cope With Losing Someone You Love.  Earl Grollman. Ages 11 and up.
A poetic and thought-provoking book for teens who have experienced the death of a friend or relative.

155.937 MEL         Lifetimes: a Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children. Bryan Mellonie.   Ages 3-8.
This book explains to children that death is a part of life and that, eventually, all living things reach the end of their own special lifetimes.

155.937 MEL         The Saddest Time.  Norma Simon.  Ages 5-8.
In these three stories, children come to terms with the death of an uncle, a classmate, and a grandmother.
A workbook title which is not available in libraries but may be a worthwhile purchase for families looking for a book where children can process their grieving through art:
Help Me Say Goodbye : Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies.
  Janis Silverman.

Picture Books:

Badger’s Parting Gifts.  Susan Varley.   Ages 3-8.
After Badger dies, his friends take comfort in the special memories they have of the things they did together.

A Story for Hippo: A Book About Loss.   Simon Puttock.  Ages 3-7.
Hippo and Monkey are best, best friends and when the wise old Hippo dies, Monkey is very sad until Chameleon helps him remember the stories he and Hippo shared.

What's heaven?  Maria Shriver.  Ages 4-9. 
After her great-grandmother's death, a young girl learns about heaven by asking her mother all kinds of questions.

The Blue Pearls.  Elizabeth Stuart Warfel.  Ages 5-9. 
Elise cannot leave her life on earth and join the angels until they have completed her sapphire-blue dress.  The story of the passage through death from the perspective of a small angel.

Chapter Books:

Charlotte’s Web.  E.B. White.  Ages 5-10.
Charlotte the spider teaches Wilbur the pig many truths about life and death.

Juvenile Biography:

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  Eleanor Coerr.  Ages 8-12. 
Hospitalized with the dreaded atom bomb disease, leukemia, a child in Hiroshima races against time to fold one thousand paper cranes to verify the legend that by doing so a sick person will become healthy.

Death of Grandparent:

155.937 HOL          Gran-Gran’s Best Trick.  L. Dwight Holden.  Ages 6-9.
As her grandfather weakens from terminal cancer and dies, his granddaughter reflects on their special relationship and the memories of him that she will share with her little sister.

Picture Books:

The Christmas Thingamajig.  Lynn Manuel.  Ages 5-9. 
On the first Christmas after her grandmother’s death, a young girl comes to terms with her own anger and guilt, and learns that memories and rituals can help heal hearts.

Come Back, Grandma.  Sue Limb.  Ages 3-7.
Bessie misses her grandmother when she dies, but when Bessie grows up, she has a little girl of her own who looks and behaves just like Grandma.

Eleanor, Arthur, and Claire.  Diane Engel.  Ages 3-7. 
Claire, a young mouse, loves spending her summers with her grandparents, and although she finds things changed after her grandfather's death, she and her grandmother find the strength to go on without him.

Good-Bye, Vivi!   Antonie Schneider.  Ages 5-8.
When Granny's beloved canary Vivi dies, the family comes to accept it, as well as the idea that some day they will lose Granny as well.

Grandad Bill’s Song.   Jane Yolen.   Ages 5-8. 
As his relatives relate how they felt when his grandfather died, a boy is surprised at the memories they share with him, and then is able to share his own feelings.

The Grandad Tree.  Trish Cooke.  Ages 3-7.
The changing nature of their apple tree reminds Leigh and Vin of their grandfather, who is gone but lives on in their memories.

Grandpa’s Slide Show.  Deborah Gould.  Ages 4-8.
Whenever they visit Grandpa, Sam and Douglas always watch a slide show. After Grandpa dies, the slide show becomes a way to remember him.

The Happy Funeral.  Eve Bunting.  Ages 5-9.
A Chinese-American girl pays tribute to her grandfather as she assists in the preparations for his funeral.

Liplap’s Wish.  Jonathon London.  Ages 3-6. 
As he builds a snowbunny, Liplap misses his grandmother who recently died.  His mother comforts him by helping him to imagine that his grandmother is now a star in the sky.

Marianne’s Grandmother.  Bettina Egger.  Ages 3-7. 
After her grandmother dies, a little girl remembers all the good times they had together.

My Grandfather’s House.  Bruce Coville.  Ages 4-7.
When the child feels the cool, smooth fingers of his dead grandfather, he finally understands that Grandpa no longer lives in the house that was his body.

My Grandma Leonie.  Bijou Le Tord. Ages 2-5. 
In this simple book, a child remembers the quiet things they did together.

My Grandson Lew.  Charlotte Zolotow.  Ages 2-6.
 Together Lewis and his mother remember Grandpa, who used to come in the night when Lewis called.

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs.  Tomie de Paola.  Ages  3-7. 
Four-year-old Tommy enjoys his relationship with both his grandmother and great-grandmother, but eventually learns to face their inevitable deaths.

Old Pig.  Margaret Wild.  Ages 2-6. 
Because Old Pig knows that her time to die is near, she puts her affairs in order and takes a slow walk with Granddaughter to savor the beauty for one last time in this comforting book.

One More Wednesday.   Malika Doray. Ages 3-7.
When a little animal's grandmother dies, he remembers good times with her and asks his mother about death.

Poppy’s Chair.  Karen Hesse.  Ages 4-8.
On her first summer visit to her grandmother since her grandfather's death, Leah is saddened by his absence, but Gramm helps her learn how to remember Poppy with joy.

Remember the Butterflies.  Anna Grossnickle Hines. Ages 3-7.  
When a boy and girl find a dead butterfly in the garden, their grandfather explains that life will go on in the eggs it had left behind.  After their grandfather dies, their mother comforts them with the thought that they are his legacy as are the beautiful things he has left behind.

Sophie.  Mem Fox.  Ages 3-6. 
As Sophie grows bigger and her grandfather gets smaller, they continue to love each other very much.

Sweet, Sweet Memory.  Jacqueline Woodson.   Ages 3-8. 
A child and her grandmother feel sad when Grandpa dies but as time passes, funny memories of him make them laugh and feel better.

Thank You, Grandpa.  Lynn Plourde.  Ages 4-9.
Over the years a grandfather and granddaughter enjoy many walks together appreciating nature’s life cycles. One day the granddaughter walks alone, but her grandfather’s lessons remain.

A Time for Remembering.   Chuck Thurman.  Ages 5-8.
After his grandfather's death, a boy remembers the intimate experiences they shared and follows his grandfather's last request.

The Two of Them.  Aliki.  Ages 4-8.
In gentle prose, describes the relationship of a grandfather and his granddaughter from her birth to his death.

Waiting for the Whales.   SherylMcFarlane.  Ages 4-8.
A little girl and her grandfather spend summer evenings waiting on the shore for the whales to come, and after his death, she waits for the orcas to return, thinking about the special bond they shared.

Where is Grandpa?  T.A. Barron. Ages 5-9.
After his beloved grandfather's death, a boy realizes that his grandfather is still with him through the stories each family member shares.

Chapter Books:

Blackberries in the Dark.  Mavis Jukes.  Ages 7-11. 
Nine-year-old Austin visits his grandmother the summer after his grandfather dies and together they try to come to terms with their loss.

Saying Good-bye to Grandma.  Jane Resh Thomas. Ages 5-9.
Seven-year-old Suzie is curious and fearful about what Grandma's funeral will be like.

Death of a Parent:


155.937 KRE          How it Feels When a Parent Dies.  Jill Krementz.  Ages 7& up.
Eighteen young people –ages 7 to 16 – speak openly about their experiences and feelings when a parent died.

155.412 LES           When a Parent is Very Sick.  Eda LeShan.   Ages 8-14.
A self-help guide that highlights feelings and situations when a parent is temporarily, chronically, or terminally ill.

155.9 LES               Learning to Say Goodbye: When a Parent Dies.   Eda LeShan.  Ages 8-14.
Talks directly to children about what they may be feeling, what they can expect, and how they might cope. 

155.037 WEI          Let’s Talk About When a Parent Dies.  Elizabeth Weitzman.  Ages 4-9. 
Provides advice on surviving the death of a parent and suggests what feelings and behavior to expect from others.

155.937 POW        Geranium Morning.  E. Sandy Powell.  Ages 6-10.
A boy who loses his father in an accident finds comfort when he meets a girl whose mother is dying as they both begin to deal with their grief.

155.937 DOK  Remembering Mama. Dara Dokas.  Ages 4-9.
Comforted by her father, a young girl remembers her mother and is comforted by the thought that she is now in heaven.  Suggestions for discussion and a variety of activities are suggested to help deal with grief.

Picture Books:

After Charlotte’s Mom Died. Cornelia Spelman. Ages 4-8.  
After her mom’s death in a car accident, six-year-old Charlotte feels sad, mad, and scared, until she and her dad visit a therapist who helps them acknowledge and express their feelings.

Daddy’s Chair.  Sandy Lanton.  Ages 4-8.
When Michael's father dies, his family sits shiva, observing the Jewish week of mourning, and remembers the good things about him.

Daddy’s Promise.  Cindy Klein Cohen.  Ages 4-8. 
After the death of his father, Jesse is angry and filled with questions. Why did his daddy have to die? What happens when someone dies?  Where do they go? Jesse's questions are answered both by his mother, and in a series of dreams where Jesse visits his father and learns about life, death, and life after death.

Flamingo Dream.  Donna Jo Napoli.  Ages 4-9.
Grieving over her father's death from cancer, a young girl celebrates their last year together by making a book that includes mementos and a story.

Mama.  Eleanor Schick  Ages 5-8.
This is a gentle exploration of a child's grief over the death of her mother.  The girl remembers her mother’s announcement of the illness, the introduction of a loving caretaker, her mother's death and its aftermath, and the girl's own eventual acceptance--not of the death, but of her mother's continuing presence through memories.         

A Quilt for Elizabeth.   Benette W. Tiffault.  Ages 5-10. 
When Elizabeth's father dies, her grandmother helps her make a quilt that is full of memories for them both.

Some of the Pieces.  Melissa Madenski.   Ages 5-9. 
On the first anniversary of his dad's death, a boy talks about his memories and his feelings as his family scatter the last of Dad's ashes in the river.  He remembers his anger and his sorrow and also how he began to feel better.

Saying Goodbye to Daddy.  Judith Vigna.    Ages 4-8.
Frightened, lonely, and angry after her father is killed in a car accident, Clare is helped through the grieving process by her mother and grandfather.

Chapter Books:

Daddy’s Climbing Tree.  C.S. Adler.  Ages 9-12. 
Eleven-year-old Jessica refuses to believe the reality of her father's death when he is killed in a hit-and-run accident.

Sky Memories.   Pat Brission.  Ages 8 and up.
When ten-year-old Emily learns that her mother has cancer, the two of them begin a ritual that will help
Emily remember her mother after she is dead.

Upside-Down Cake.  Carol Carrick.  Ages 7-11. 
A nine-year-old boy tries to come to terms with his grief, anger, and feelings of guilt and isolation when his father develops cancer, becomes weaker, and dies.

Winter Holding Spring.   Crescent Dragonwagon.  Ages 6-11. 
In discussing her mother's death with her father, eleven-year-old Sarah comes to see that in endings there are new beginnings, that grief is part of love, that loneliness is part of communication, and that change is part of continuity.

Missing May.  Cynthia Rylant.  Ages 8-12.
After the death of the beloved aunt who has raised her, twelve-year-old Summer and her uncle Ob leave their West Virginia trailer in search of the strength to go on living.

Death of a Child (Sibling):

155.937  RIC           Losing Someone You Love: When a Brother or Sister Dies.  Elizabeth Richter.  Ages 10 & up.
Sixteen young people ages ten to twenty four recall their emotions when a sibling died. This book is helpful for parents and other adults as well as young people.

155.937 BRE          When I Die, Will I Get Better?  Joeri and Piet Breebaart.  Ages 4-7. 
A six-year-old boy tries to come to terms with the death of his younger brother by creating a story about rabbit brothers that closely parallels his own experiences.

155.937 MAP        On the Wings of a Butterfly: a Story about Life and Death.  Marilyn Maple.  Ages 5-12. 
Lisa, a child dying of cancer, finds comfort and support in her friendship with a caterpillar preparing for transformation into a monarch butterfly.

Picture Books:

A Little Bit of Rob.  Barbara J. Turner.  Ages 4-8.
After Rob's death, his parents and younger sister find that taking their boat out crabbing and handling his old sweatshirt allow them to come to terms with his memory.

Molly’s Rosebush.  Janice Cohn.  Ages 4-8.
When the new baby they've been expecting is stillborn, Molly and her family find different ways to express their feelings and comfort each other.

Stacey Had A Little Sister.  Wendie C. Old.  Ages 3-7. 
Stacy has mixed feelings about her new sister Ashley, but when the baby dies of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Stacy is sad and misses her.

That Summer.  Tony Johnston. Ages 5-9.
A boy remembers the last summer with his dying brother and the quilt they sewed full of memories and love.

Chapter Books:

Mick Harte Was Here.  Barbara Park.  Ages 8-12. 
Thirteen-year-old Phoebe recalls her younger brother Mick’s death in a bicycle accident and the changes it brings in her family.

A Summer to Die.  Lois Lowry.  Ages 11-14. 
Thirteen-year-old Meg envies her sister's beauty and popularity.  Her feelings don't make it any easier for her to cope with Molly's strange illness and eventual death from leukemia.

Zink. Cheryl Bennett.  Ages 9-14. 
With the help of a trio of zebras from the Serengeti, sixth-grader Becky faces her battle with leukemia, her family's fears for her, and the possibility that she might die.

Death of Other Relatives:

Picture Books:

Losing Uncle Tim.  Mary Kate Jordan.  Ages 5-10. 
When his beloved Uncle Tim dies of AIDS, Daniel struggles to find reassurance and understanding and finds that his favorite grown-up has left him a legacy of joy and courage.

Tiger Flowers.  Patricia Quinlin.  Ages 4-8. 
When his uncle, Michael, dies of AIDS, Joel's dreams and thoughts of Michael keep his memory alive.

Too far away to touch.   Leslea Newman.  Ages 5-8.
Zoe's favorite uncle Leonard takes her to a planetarium and explains that if he dies he will be like the stars, too far away to touch, but close enough to see.

You Hold Me and I’ll Hold You.  Jo Carson.  Ages 4-7. 
When a great-aunt dies, a young child finds comfort in being held and in holding, too.

Death of a Friend: 

155.937 COO      When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens about Grieving.   Marilyn E. Gootman.  Ages 11&up.  A brief book filled with practical and perceptive advice to help teens cope with their questions and feelings after a friend’s death.

Picture Books: 

I Had a Friend Named Peter.  Janice Cohn. Age 5-8. 
When Betsy learns about the death of a friend, her parents and kindergarten teacher answer questions about dying, funerals, and the burial process.   Includes a section on talking to children about the death of a friend.

Goodbye Rune.  Marit Kaldhol.  Ages 7-11. 
When her best friend accidentally drowns, a little girl, with the help of her parents, tries to come to terms with his death and her feelings of loss and sadness.

If Nathan Was Here.   Mary Bahr Fritts.  Ages 4-8. 
A young boy grieves the loss of his best friend and thinks about how things would be if he were still alive in this simple, moving story.

Blow Me a Kiss, Miss Lilly.   Nancy White Carlstom.  Ages 4-8.
After her best friend, an old lady named Miss Lilly, passes away, Sara learns that the memory of a loved one never dies. 

Chapter Books:

Dusty Was My Friend.  Andrea Fleck Clardy.  Age 7-11. 
Eight-year-old Benjamin remembers his friend Dusty, who was killed in a car accident, and tries to understand his own feelings about losing a friend in this way.

The Empty Window.  Eve Bunting.  Ages 9-12.
With his younger brother's help, C.G. captures a wild parrot for his friend who is dying and comes to terms with his own fear of seeing his dying friend.

A Taste of Blackberries.  Doris Buchanan Smith.  Ages 8 & up. 
A young boy recounts his grief and feelings of guilt after his best friend dies from a bee sting.

We Remember Philip.  Norma Simon.  Ages 6-11. 
After the accidental death of their teacher’s son, Sam and his classmates seek a way to express their feelings, preserve his memory, and help their teacher cope.

The Death of a Pet

General Nonfiction:

155.9 NIE  Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults & Children. Herbert A. Nieburg.
Pet Loss tells parents how they can help their children through this difficult experience and also offers expert advice on euthanasia, expectations from a veterinarian, cremation, pet cemeteries, and when to introduce a new pet.

155.937 ROG          When a Pet Dies. Fred Rogers. Ages 3 – 6.
With simplicity, honesty and gentleness, Rogers writes about some of the questions and emotions children may have when a pet dies.


Picture Books:

The Accident.  Carol Carrick. Ages 5-9. 
After his dog, Bodger, is hit by a truck and killed, Christopher must deal with his own feelings of depression and guilt.

Jim’s Dog Muffins.   Miriam Cohen.  Ages 3-7.
When Jim's dog is killed, the other first graders comfort and experience with him his natural reactions to death.

A Dog Like Jack.  Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan. Ages 4-8.
After a long life of chasing squirrels, licking ice cream cones, and loving his adoptive family, an old dog comes to the end of his days.

I’ll Always Love You.  Hans Wilhelm.  Ages 3-8. 
A child's sadness at the death of a beloved dog is tempered by the memory of saying to it every night, "I'll always love you” in this gentle, moving story.

Murphy and Kate.   Ellen Howard.  Ages 5-10.
Kate and her dog Murphy have grown up together and are best friends, but when Murphy dies of old age Kate does not think she can ever be happy again.

Better with Two.  Barbara M. Joosee.  Ages 3-7. 
Laura tries to make Mrs. Brady feel better when her dog Max dies.

Goodbye, Max.  Holly Keller.  Ages 3-8. 
Ben is angry when his dog dies of old age and will not accept the new puppy until he learns to deal with his grief. 

Ada’s Pal.  George Ella Lyon.  Ages 3-8.
A small dog suffers from a broken heart when her dog companion dies until a veterinarian advises the family that there is only one thing to do – get another dog.

Dog Heaven.  Cynthia Rylant.  Ages 3-8. 
God created Dog Heaven, a place where dogs can eat ice cream biscuits, sleep on fluffy clouds, and run through unending fields.

Toby.   Margaret Wild.  Ages 4-10.
Toby is an old and sick dog.  His family does their best to care for him and they also learn that change is not as easy for some people to accept. 

Chapter Books: 

The Sounds of Summer.  David Updike. Ages 7-10.  
During the long days of summer vacation, Homer realizes that his beloved Sophocles is no longer a young dog and that he may lose his companion soon.

Sounder.  William Armstrong.  Ages 8-13.
A beautiful story about a young African-American boy and his dog who dies.


Picture Books:

The Tenth Good Thing about Barney.  Judith Viorst.  Ages 4-8. 
In an attempt to overcome his grief, a boy tries to think of the ten best things about his dead cat.

Goodbye, Mitch.  Ruth Wallace-Brodeur.  Ages 5-9.
A young boy comforts and cares for his terminally ill cat.

The Bug Cemetery.  Frances Hill.  Ages 4-8.
Neighborhood children imaginatively stage funerals for dead bugs, but they experience real sadness following the death of a pet cat.

Cat Heaven.  Cynthia Rylant.  Ages 3-7.
God created Cat Heaven, with fields of sweet grass where cats can play, kitty-toys for them to enjoy, and angels to rub their noses and ears.

Chapter Books:

 Charlotte Graeber.  Ages 8-10.
Eight-year-old Alex and his family try to come to terms with the old age and death of their beloved cat, Mustard.

Whiskers Once and Always.  Doris Orgel. Ages 8-10.
When her beloved cat Whiskers dies, Rebecca finds it difficult at first to vent her anger and accept her mother's comfort.

Other Pets:

Picture Books:

Tough Boris.  Mem Fox.  Ages 2-6.
Although he is a very tough pirate, Boris cries when his parrot dies.

Goodbye Mousie.  Robie H. Harris.  Ages 3-8.
A boy grieves for his dead pet Mousie, helps to bury him, and begins to come to terms with his loss.

Helen the Fish.  Virginia L. Kroll.  Ages 4-8.
When six-year-old Hannah's beloved goldfish dies after a relatively long life, she seeks comfort from her older brother Seth.

Chapter Book:

King Emmett the Second.  Mary Stolz. Ages 7-10.
Emmett endures the death of his pet pig and his family's move from New York City to Ohio and finally comes to accept the thought of getting another pet.