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Bereavement & Loss

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Bereavement & Loss Booklist

This list includes children’s books that explore the topic of bereavement, with the emphasis on stories that support children and families to talk and think about the loss of a loved one. Books can help children to empathise with others, explore big emotions and gently open conversations about difficult experiences including the death of a parent, relative or friend. 

John Dougherty
 & Thomas Docherty

Bertle and Hertle (one a turtle, one a hare) are the best of friends and are always found together, having fun, playing and helping each other. That is, until one day, when Hertle disappears, leaving only a black hole where he should have been.

Bertle looks for his friend everywhere, getting angry at the hole and pleading with it, until he eventually lets his sadness at the missing Hertle surround him. Luckily for Bertle, the wise and kindly Gerda the bear understands what he is feeling and encourages the turtle to fill the hole with all the amazing memories he has of Hertle and their time together.

The Hare-Shaped Hole is a beautiful, touching and poignant book that accurately depicts what it feels like to lose someone or something very important to you. The heart-warming ending, full of colour, could bring the most stoic of readers to tears. As someone who has both lost a parent this year and supported a child losing their own, this book was particularly on-point and I have yet to read another which so accurately depicts the feelings of grief and memories of loved ones.

I would highly recommend this as a book for children who are experiencing loss  – and to adults too! I shared the book with several colleagues, all of whom read the book cover-to-cover in one sitting, many of them stating they wished there were books like this when they were young. The illustrations are beautiful, highlighting the feelings and emotions of our characters. The ‘hare-shaped hole’ changing in colour is particularly effective. The story is written in rhyme, which helps to keep the gentle tone throughout. A beautiful story of love, loss and grief.

Marguerite McLaren
 & Hayley Wells

Written sensitively and illustrated beautifully, this book gently takes the reader (a child of any age) by the hand and helps them understand that when someone leaves us, that person didn’t choose to do so and a part of them will always live on in the memories and love that they shared. The book gently encourages readers that it is okay to feel different emotions and for those emotions to be displayed in different ways. Written with the support of Child Bereavement UK, with useful tips at the back of the book for supporting a child (or grown-up) going through the bereavement process. Death is often difficult for us to talk about, but this book will hopefully pave the way for those necessary conversations to happen.

Rashmi Sirdeshpande
 & Ruchi Mhasane

Dadaji’s Paintbrush is a sumptuous story of a young boy’s special relationship with his grandfather, set in a small village in India.
This is a beautiful story that deals with the difficult subject of the loss of a grandparent in a gentle and understanding way.  The beautiful Indian setting that will be unfamiliar to many readers highlights the universal experiences of love and loss, showing that no matter where you are, some human experiences unite us all.
The illustrations are simple and beautiful and we particularly liked how the colours linked with the main character’s emotions. We also loved the evocative and sensory setting descriptions in the story – we could almost taste the mangoes!
As well as gently exploring the topic of grief, the story is ultimately filled with hope and draws out the values of art, community and legacy. There’s so much to unpack in this stunning story.

Isabel Otter & Katie Rewse

A father and daughter navigate their changed lives together after the loss of a mother. Dad tells Maya all about how Mum used to love spending time in the garden, and the pair find new comfort together in reviving the outdoor space together by clearing weeds, planting seeds and enjoying new growth.

Benji Davies

A beautiful story about the loss of a beloved grandparent. When Syd and his Grandad go into the attic, they find themselves on a sailing ship travelling to a jungle-covered island. They have fun exploring the wonderful island and befriending its animals. Syd knows it will soon be time for him to go home, but Grandad decides to stay. Saying goodbye is hard as Syd returns home by himself, but he knows that Grandad will be happy staying in this beautiful place.

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