Books

20 books to help kids cope with death

It can be difficult to find the right words when helping a child cope with the loss of a loved one. These books can help kids through the grieving process.

By Emily Sadler

20 books to help kids cope with death

Mr. Dak: The Tale of a Special Turtle

Written by Dayna Saba and illustrated by Donny Meloche (ages 3+) Mr. Dak is a special turtle who loves to smell flowers, play bingo and wear funny pajamas. This sweet dedication to the author’s late grandfather will have kids laughing at Mr. Dak’s stinky farts in the beginning but eventually feeling comforted in his absence by the end. $20, amazon.ca

Book cover for Mr Dak showing an old man turtle waving and smiling

Sometimes Someone Dies

Written and illustrated by Meaghan Hadwyn and Niki Snjaric, Other Life Lessons This book reminds kids that even though people may leave us when they die, the love they shared never goes away. This sweet and simple book is perfect for kids who are having trouble understanding the death of a loved one. $12, otherlifelessons.com

Book cover for Sometimes Someone Dies showing a sad person with blue hairPhoto: Other Life Lessons

And So It Goes

Written and illustrated by Paloma Valdivia and translated by Susan Ouriou, Groundwood Books (ages 4-7) Filled with beautiful illustrations and gentle, contemplative text, this book will help kids to understand that the cycle of life continues as people leave us and new people arrive. $18, houseofanansi.com

Cover art for And So It GoesPhoto: Groundwood Books

Grandad’s Island

Written and illustrated by Benji Davies (age 4-8) Through the gate and past the tree, at the bottom of Syd’s garden, is Grandad’s house. Syd’s allowed to let himself in at any time, but one day, he can’t find Grandad in any of his usual places. He finds him in the attic, where he leads him through a door and into a colourful and beautiful island, where he decides he’ll stay. Syd sails home, but not before he hugs Grandad one last time. $22, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

Life & I: A Story About Death

Written by Elisabeth Helland Larsen and illustrated by Marine Schneider, Little Gestalten (ages 4-8) This story for all ages illustrates the inevitable link between life and death. Death rides a pink bike, and visits small and even large animals with sharp teeth. She knits one last scarf with a kindly grandmother, and wanders through, showing us who she is. $22, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

Choose Your Days

Written and illustrated by Paula S. Wallace, Cinco Puntos Press (ages 3-6) As a baby, Corky received the keys to her days from Old Bear. As her days grow short she tries to get a few more days from Old Bear. But it is up to Corky to live her days to the fullest and then when she is ready she won’t be afraid to open the final door. $14, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

What Happens When A Loved One Dies?

Written by Dr. Jillian Roberts and illustrated by Cindy Revell, Orca Book Publishers (ages 3-6) In this gentle introduction to the concept of death, children will learn what happens when a person dies. This carefully non-denominational book answers questions kids may ask like “what is a soul?” and “will I ever see the person I love again?” $20, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

The Goodbye Book

Written and illustrated by Todd Parr, Hachette (ages 3-6) It’s always hardest to say goodbye to someone you love. Todd Parr’s book takes its reader through emotions of confusion, sadness, anger, loneliness, but ends on an optimistic note. It reminds little readers to always try and remember the happy times spent with a loved one and that “there will always be someone to love you and hold you tight.” $22, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

The Dead Bird

Written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Christian Robinson, HarperCollins (ages 4-8) Written by beloved children’s book author, Margaret Wise Brown, now with beautiful new illustrations by award-winning illustrator, Christian Robinson. This classic picture book tells the story of a group of children who find a bird with its eyes closed and no heartbeat. They decide to say goodbye by giving the bird a funeral in the park. $22, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

The Swallow: A Ghost Story

Written by Charis Cotter, Tundra Books (ages 9-12) This chapter book tells the story of neighbours Rose and Polly, two lonely girls who live very different lives. But there is more to Rose than meets the eye. Soon, the girls get wrapped up in a mystery that prompts them to explore a haunted house, spirits, a family secret and even death. $22, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

Jaspers Day

Written by Marjorie Blain Parker and illustrated by Janet Wilson, Kids Can Press Ltd (ages 5-9) Riley and his family must say goodbye to their beloved old dog, Jasper, who is very sick. But before they do, they decide to celebrate Jasper by doing all of his favourite things: eating people-food, splashing around in the stream, and going for ice cream on the way to visit grandma. This sensitive story will help kids deal with the loss of a pet and to cherish the special memories together. $9, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

The Heaven Of Animals

Written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman, Feiwel and Friends (ages 4-8) This book’s gentle words and peaceful illustrations to describe the magical heaven of animals will comfort kids mourning the loss of a pet. Lines like, “And when angels whisper in animal ears, it is your voice that each animal hears,” are what make this tender book so special. $23, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

Ella And The Balloons In The Sky

Written by Danny Appleby and illustrated by Lauren Pirie, Tundra Books (ages 5-9) One morning, Ella wakes to find her pets floating away in the sky. Try as she might, Ella cannot reach high enough to pull her pets back down. Through whimsical rhyming prose, this book gently teaches kids that while you can’t hold on to loved ones forever, if you keep them in your heart, they’ll never truly be gone. $18, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

Dragon Fire

Written by Geert De Kockere and An Dom and illustrated by Tineke Van Hemeldonck, Sky Pony Press (ages 3-7) This tender story, based on late author An Dom’s own personal battle with terminal cancer, tells the story of how a dragon family rallies around mommy dragon as her sickness grows, and how they deal with the loss once she is gone. $23, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

Boats For Papa

Written and illustrated by Jessixa Bagley, Roaring Book Press (ages 3-7) Buckley is a beaver who loves to build boats out of the driftwood he finds on the beach. He and his mama miss Buckley’s dad, so one day Buckley decides to set a boat afloat in the ocean in hopes that it will reach Papa. This book will not only help kids find their peace while dealing with loss, it also shows them the importance of supporting others who are grieving. $14, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

The Memory Tree

Written and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, Hachette Children’s (ages 3-7) After a long and happy life, Fox lies down in his favourite clearing and falls asleep forever. His friends slowly gather and tell wonderful stories of their time spent with Fox and soon a tree begins to grow in his place. This book teaches kids the importance of not only keeping memories of loved ones who are gone, but also the joy that sharing those memories with others can bring. $11, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

The Heart and The Bottle

Written by Oliver Jeffers, HarperCollins (ages 6+) This moving book tells the story of a young girl who must learn to trust in the world again. $12, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

Snowflakes Fall

Written by Patricia Maclachlan and illustrated by Steven Kellogg, Random House (ages 3-7) This book was inspired by the Sandy Hook Tragedy (Kellogg is a longtime resident of Newton, Connecticut). The story is meant as a message of hope as it “portrays life’s natural cycle: its beauty, its joy, and its sorrow.” $20, indigo.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney

Written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Erik Blegvad, Atheneum Books For Young Readers (ages 6-9) This book is more than 30 years old but it’s still an amazing go-to when a family pet dies. $10, indigo.ca  

20 books to help kids cope with death

Missing Mommy

Written by Rebecca Cobb, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (ages 3-8) This bittersweet and honest story is written from a child’s perspective and explores the difficult emotions a child may feel after a parent dies. Most importantly, the book teaches children to treasure their special memories. $11, amazon.ca

20 books to help kids cope with death

This article was originally published on Jan 22, 2021
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