5 Children’s Books that Deal with Death, Loss and Grief

5 Books for Kids on Death Loss Grief 500x500 5 Childrens Books that Deal with Death, Loss and Grief

pin it button 5 Childrens Books that Deal with Death, Loss and Grief
 

My heart is heavy as I write this post.  Oh, how I wish we lived in a world where innocent children didn’t have to know the pain of losing a loved one!  Sadly, the reality is that most children will experience a loss of a close relative or friend sometime in their youth.  Topical children’s books can offer great opportunities for conversing with your child about his/her feelings in a casual, non-intimidating manner.

I’ve compiled a list of books I believe are beneficial for helping children cope with the loss of a loved one.  Please note:  I am a Bible-believing Christian.  My belief in God, Jesus, and Heaven obviously influence my choice in books that deal with such sensitive issues such as death and the afterlife.  I have included a thorough synopsis of each book, so you should be able to get a good indication of the book’s content and the perspective from which it is written.

 

Heaven is for Real for Kids 5 Childrens Books that Deal with Death, Loss and Grief

Heaven is for Real for Kids as told by Colton Burpo

If your child has ever asked, “What is Heaven like?” then this is the book for you!  I read the original Heaven is for Real about 6 months ago and I found it to be so comforting and encouraging in my faith.  If you are unfamiliar with this book, it is the story of Colton Burpo–a three-year old who claims he went to Heaven during his emergency appendectomy surgery.  The details that he shares with his parents are incredibly accurate to the scriptures that talk about Heaven in the Bible.  The picture book for children is filled with beautiful illustrations.  It is written in first-person as though Colton is sitting in the chair next to you, sharing details from a vacation.  Every page also has an additional scripture reference that validates Colton’s message.  I will definitely be buying this book to keep in our home library because I feel that it paints a beautiful picture of Heaven that kids can understand while also being extremely compatible with what we know about Heaven from Scripture.

Samantha Janes Missing Smile A Story About Coping with the Loss of a Parent 5 Childrens Books that Deal with Death, Loss and Grief

Samantha Jane’s Missing Smile by Julie Kaplow and Donna Pincus

This is the story of a young girl named Samantha Jane (Sammy Jane) who lost her smile after her dad died.  She doesn’t want to do anything that she used to do, because everything brings back memories of her dad and makes her want to cry.  A wise neighbor, who has known Sammy Jane since she was a baby, encourages her by saying, “Crying can be a very good way to wash some of your sad feelings out, so there’s more room for happy feelings to get in.”  This sweet woman also helps Sammy Jane to realize that even though she can’t see or feel her Daddy, that he will always be a part of her life through the memories that she carries of him.  Everywhere she looks around her, she can see things that remind her of her dad.  This book also addresses the guilt that children (and adults) can sometimes have if they smile, laugh, or have fun after their loved one has died and dismisses the idea that a child shouldn’t talk about their loved one with other family members for fear of making them sad.  There is also a very helpful note to parents at the end that provides lots of relevant information to help a child cope with the death of a loved one (written by two clinical Psychologists).

 

 What is Heaven Like 300x251 5 Childrens Books that Deal with Death, Loss and Grief

What is Heaven Like? by Beverly Lewis

Two siblings sit in a tree house, missing their grandpa and reflecting on something he told them before he died:  “Don’t be too sad.  We’ll see each other again someday.”  The two children want to find out more and set out to discover what Heaven is like.  They decide to ask everyone around them:  the mail carrier, a teacher, the librarian, the ice cream truck man, the dentist, a zookeeper, and a neighbor. Finally, the little boy goes to his mom and tells her about his interviews.  She helps clarify some things and encourages him to talk to both her and their father. Later, the children’s Grandma answers an important question:  “How do I know if I will go to heaven when I die?”  This is the only book of the five I read that tackles this tough question.  Here is a quote directly from the book:

“God’s only son, the Lord Jesus, came to our world as a tiny baby.  Then, when Jesus grew to be a man–when it was just the right time–He died to take away our sins…God wants us to love Him back, but the choice is ours.  We can either obey Him or go our own way.  If you believe in Jesus–and trust Him to forgive your sins–you can be sure you are going to Heaven.”

Although I think there were some liberties taken that aren’t necessarily true in scripture (getting to eat whatever you want and do whatever you want, for example), overall this book paints a comforting picture of Heaven in a way that a child can understand.

The Invisible String 5 Childrens Books that Deal with Death, Loss and Grief

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

 This book is appropriate in any situation where a child is separated from a loved one (death, a deployment, school separation, children being shuttled back and forth to divorced parents, etc.).  The premise of this book is, “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love.”  The string can reach anyone, anywhere…even loved ones in Heaven!  The String can’t go away, even when you’re angry or upset. I really enjoyed this book and think it can be used in a variety of different situations.  It is short and interesting enough to capture the attention of children.

Someone I Love Died 300x384 5 Childrens Books that Deal with Death, Loss and Grief

Someone I Love Died by Christine Harder Tangvald

This is a book I recently picked up at our local Christian bookstore.  One thing I really like about this book is it can be personalized.  There are places for a child to draw pictures of how they are feeling, what they look like they are sad, etc. as well as places to fill in the blanks of the name of the person who died and other information as well.  This book goes into a lot of detail about death, including details about how the soul continues to live but the body is like an empty house.  It was explained extremely well (and is Biblically-based), but it might be a book best read to the child by someone who isn’t super-close to the deceased as I would imagine it to be quite difficult to read without getting totally choked up.  This book also talks about Heaven and how Jesus opens the door to Heaven when we accept him as our Savior.  It doesn’t go into great detail about Heaven, saying:

“We don’t know exactly where Heaven is or what it is like.  But we don’t have to know, because God knows.  But we do know Heaven is wonderful.  It is not a sad or scary place to be.  It is a happy place, a fun place, a terrific place.  In fact, Heaven is better than the very best place you can think of.”

The following books were recommended by readers.  I have not personally read them, but you can read the comments to see how they have helped hurting families:

::  Tear Soup:  A Recipe for Healing after Loss

::  Someday Heaven

::  Someone Came Before You (for talking to children who have older siblings who were stillborn or died as infants)

::  Heaven for Kids

Has your family dealt with the loss of a loved one?  What books did you find comforting to share with your child(ren)???

*The links in this post are my affiliate links.  Please read my full disclosure.

Comments

  1. Tracy Nelson says

    These sound awesome-I could have used them a year and a half ago when our daughter went to heaven-I have a child care home and had to help the kiddos..would be a wonderful resourse to have in the future…

  2. Jenna says

    I particularly like Mother, Come Home. A book about a boy who deals with the loss of his mother and psychological break down of his father at the same time

  3. says

    Randy Alcorn’s Heaven for Kids is good too—probably for the school-age crowd.

    For someone whose sibling died before they were born, we have “Someone came before you” and it is really sweet.

  4. Kiku says

    One of our favorites is ‘Tear Soup’. It’s short and sweet with wonderful pictures. It applies to any grief filled situation. It originally came when we were dealing with the death of a too-young family member, it has seen us through others since. We still get it off the shelf.

    I’m sorry for what makes your heart heavy, grief is difficult.

  5. Maureen says

    We also have used “Tear Soup”…..so helpful last year when my mother died — helped explain to my daughter why I was so sad. The pictures are gorgeous — and, like the poster above, it definitely applies to all grief situations. My daughter continues to ask for it as well, and has told me she wants to read it to her new baby brother when he gets older — so she can tell him about her Babcia……

  6. says

    I have also used The Fall of Freddy the Leaf with my children. It uses the analogy of the life cycle of a tree to explain that death is a natural part of life. I discovered What is Heaven Like by Beverly Lewis when it was for sale at my school through Books R Us. I loved and it and ended up buying several copies to keep on hand to give as gifts to families with children who I know have experienced a loss.

    My sister passed away from cancer when my daughter was just 7. They were very close, so it was naturally very difficult for my daughter. But, knowing that my sister is in heaven gave us all comfort. My sisters name was Joy. One of my most precious memories was when my daughter gathered up notes, photos and other memories, put them in a shoebox and brought them to me, saying, “Mom, I made you a box of Joy.” I still look through that box from time to time.

    Thanks for the great list of books.

  7. C Hall says

    Another book that I really appreciate is Someday…Heaven by Larry Libby. Lovely illustrations and understandable, 1-page answers to children’s questions about heaven…the questions run along the vein of things like, “Will my Grandpa still be old in heaven?”

  8. Jess says

    My son died a few months ago. His older sister is six and we have found to be helpful
    “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” by Leo Buscaglia
    “Lifetimes; The beautiful way to explain death to children” by B Mellanie & R Ingpen
    Tear soup and Heaven is for Real were also good ones in our collection.

  9. Jaye says

    23 years ago, my six year olds time was up. God had used him for some very special reasons. I was to only have him for 2 yrs the drs. said, but he lived 4 years healed and happy, walking and learning. He died unexpectantly, but we know he was heaven bound. I tried using “Someone I loved died” but I was so grief struck, I could not help myself let alone the two siblings he left behind. They were 7 and 4. It was a tough road ahead of us. After 20 years and “Heaven is for Real”, did I recover fully from the grief. I walked my daughter through it when she was 17 and we cried and read the funeral cards, we washed away some of the grief. My oldest son is now 30, continues to grief over the loss of his brother. Grief is a tough assignment to grow and go through. I have since become a Children’s Pastor and the children started to really ask about Heaven. I found Someday… Heaven. This explained it well and they were full of questions.

    • says

      I am so sorry for your loss! My oldest brother was killed in a car accident 16 years ago and the pain never really goes away, no matter how much time has passed. I’ll have to check out “Someday…Heaven”…thanks for the recommendation.

  10. Jen says

    I lost a baby boy to miscarriage at 4 months when my daughter was almost 4. I used the book “Something Happened” http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0980198704 and I thought it was very useful. A lot of the books for kids seemed to be about babies turning into angels or flying around as butterflies and other stuff which I don’t view as useful. This one focused more on how our family is sad now, but one day we will feel happy again and how we can do things to remember our baby.

  11. says

    For 3-6 year olds and their adults “Honey Bear Died” is a great book to help young children understand what death is. For years parents asked me – How do I tell them? What words do I say. … they are so young. In response to all the family’s needs over the years I give you a book that meets the developmental needs of these young children, and the adult needs of how to explain what death is. Amazon, Centering Corporation, Barnes and Noble on line.

  12. Sherry Price says

    Today I started looking for children’s books on dying and found your blog. Thank you for doing the leg work. My mother is dying and I have four granddaughters and want to be prepared to give them some help to work through their grief and learn more about their eternal home bought and paid for by Jesus. Thanks again :-)

  13. Anna martinez says

    I am a signal mother with stage 4 cervical cancer and I only have months to live. My 15 year old son is my everything beautiful. I would like a list of books for his age that can help him understand, cope, and heal from fighting cancer by my side and ultimately my death. Thank you. God bless

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