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Topic: Bereavement & Loss

Best Children’s Books About Bereavement, Grief & Loss

This list includes children’s books that explore the topic of bereavement, with an 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, teacher or friend. The stories on this list have been specially selected by the experts at BooksForTopics to cover the topics of grief and loss as well as stories about finding ways to remember beloved friends or relatives after they die.  These topics are not always easy to discuss with children, but the stories selected on this list are included because they can provide a suitable stimulus for exploring experiences of bereavement and loss.

From animal tales like Badger’s Parting Gifts and The Memory Tree to stories about the loss of a parent or grandparent like Mum’s Jumper and Dadaji’s Paintbrush, these stories are here to help explore experiences of grief for children. 

Non-fiction

A heartbreakingly honest account of a father’s grief for his son from the illustrious pairing of two former Children’s Laureates.

Very occasionally the term non-fiction has to stretch itself to accommodate a book that fits into no category at all. Michael Rosen’s Sad Book is such a book. It 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 perfects the art of making complicated feelings plain. It wasn’t made like any other book either; Michael Rosen said of the text, ” I wrote it at a moment of extreme feeling and it went straight down onto the page … Quentin didn’t illustrate it, he ‘realized’ it. He turned the text into a book and as a result showed me back to myself. No writer could ask and get more than that.” And Quentin Blake says that the picture of Michael “being sad but trying to look happy” is the most difficult drawing he’s ever done… “a moving experience.”

Picturebook

A beautiful and heartfelt picture book to help children celebrate the memories left behind when a loved one dies.

Fox has lived a long and happy life in the forest, but now he is tired. He lies down in his favourite clearing, and falls asleep for ever. Before long, Fox’s friends begin to gather in the clearing. One by one, they tell stories of the special moments that they shared with Fox. And so, as they share their memories, a tree begins to grow, becoming bigger and stronger with each memory, sheltering and protecting all the animals in the forest, just as Fox did when he was alive.

This gentle story about the loss of a loved one is perfect for sharing and will bring comfort to both children and parents.

Picturebook

Badger is so old that he knows he must soon die, so he does his best to prepare his friends. When he finally passes away, they are grief-stricken, but one by one they remember the special things he taught them during his life. By sharing their memories, they realise that although Badger is no longer with them physically, he lives on through his friends.

Celebrating the 35th anniversary of this quintessential and multi award-winning picture book about losing a loved one. Features a helpful reading guide from Child Bereavement UK that provides tips for reading Badger’s Parting Gifts with children and helping them better understand grief.

From bestselling author Todd Parr, a poignant and reassuring story about loss.

Through the lens of a pet fish who has lost his companion, Todd Parr tells a moving and wholly accessible story about saying goodbye. Touching upon the host of emotions children experience, Todd reminds readers that it’s okay not to know all the answers and that someone will always be there to support them. An invaluable resource for life’s toughest moments.

Picturebook

All at once, it was as if the stars leapt closer. Grandma grabbed the boy, raising him high above the rooftiles on her head. She was alive!

The boy’s grandma was a famous architect. Her garden is still full of old building materials. Unwilling to accept she has gone, the boy builds a giant structure from the bricks and girders he finds. And then … Grandma comes to life! The boy is whisked away on an epic adventure across fields, through oceans and atop roofs. But where is Grandma taking him?

Beautiful, thrilling and extremely moving: the extraordinary debut picture book from much-loved author, Ross Montgomery.

Picturebook

When Olivia’s teacher, Miss Evans, dies the children at her school are encouraged to think of everything that reminds them of her. Written with great care, touching sensitivity and humour The Copper Tree is about love and legacy and will help children understand that while sadness is an inevitable part of grief, death is not the end for what we leave behind can be everlasting.

Picturebook

Rabbit enjoys doing rabbity things, but he also loves un-rabbity things! When Rabbit suddenly disappears, no one knows where he has gone. His friends are desolate. But, as it turns out, Rabbit has left behind some very special gifts for them, to help them discover their own unrabbity talents! This is a stunning debut picture book by author/illustrator Jo Empson. Rabbityness celebrates individuality, encourages the creativity in everyone and positively introduces children to dealing with loss of any kind.

Picturebook

After the phenomenal success of The Storm Whale and On Sudden Hill , this new book by Benji Davies deals with the emotional topic of losing a grandparent. Subtly told, this beautifully illustrated book tackles a difficult subject with great sensitivity and depth.

At the bottom of Syd’s garden, through the gate and past the tree, is Grandad’s house. Syd can let himself in any time he likes. But one day when Syd comes to call, Grandad isn’t in any of the usual places. He’s in the attic, where he ushers Syd through a door, and the two of them journey to a wild, beautiful island awash in color where Grandad decides he will remain. So Syd hugs Grandad one last time and sets sail for home. Visiting Grandad’s house at the bottom of the garden again, he finds it just the same as it’s always been – except that Grandad isn’t there anymore. Sure to provide comfort to young children struggling to understand loss, Benji Davies’s tale is a sensitive and beautiful reminder that our loved ones live on in our memories long after they’re gone.

Picturebook

A little girl finds courage and purpose as she transforms an overgrown and neglected garden into a place of beauty, love…and ultimately hope.

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