Books about death and dying

These are some of the best books for parents and children on the subject of death and dying. Need other book recommendations? Call us at 217/403–2030 or e-mail librarian@champaign.org.

Loss of a Grandparent

  • Abuelita's Paradise (Picture Books/E/Nod) by Carmen Santiago Nodar. As Marita sits in her beloved grandmother‘s rocking chair and remembers stories of Puerto Rico, she once again feels Abuelita‘s embrace.
  • Dancing with Dziadziu (Picture Books/E/Bar) by Susan Bartoletti. During her last days, Gabriella‘s grandmother, Babci, shares stories about growing up in Poland and dancing with her husband, Dziadziu.
  • Farolitos for Abuelo (Picture Books/E/Ana) by Rudolfo Anaya. Luz places luminarias around her grandfather‘s grave to honor his life and remember him.
  • Gram's Song (Picture Books/E/Hen) by Karyn Henley. Anthony remembers his Gram by planting seeds, watching snails, and singing her favorite song.
  • The Grandad Tree (Picture Books/E/Coo) by Trish Cooke. Two African American children remember their Grandad and learn about the seasons of life as they play under the apple tree.
  • Grandma's Gone to Live in the Stars (Picture Books/E/Hay) by Max Haynes. When Grandma dies she stops to say good-bye to each sleeping family member, the dog, and the cat before rising into the stars.
  • Grandma's Purple Flowers (Picture Books/E/Bur) by Adjoa J. Burrowes. After her much-loved grandma dies during the winter, a young girl looks forward to spring and the purple flowers that they both enjoyed.
  • Heart in a Bottle (Picture Books/E/Jeffers) by Oliver Jeffers. After safeguarding her heart in a bottle hung around her neck, a girl finds the bottle growing heavier and her interest in things around her becoming smaller.
  • Kaddish for Grandpa in Jesus' Name Amen (Picture Books/E/How) by James Howe. A 5-year-old wishes her grandpa goodbye in a Christian way, a Jewish way, and her own way.
  • My Grandfather's House (Picture Books/E/Cov) by Bruce Coville. Although his grandfather has died, a little boy learns that he can still enjoy memories of his grandpa.
  • One More Wednesday (Picture Books/E/Dor) by Malika Doray. A Bunny enjoys spending every Wednesday with his granny and, after she dies, remembering the things they enjoyed.
  • Sophie (Picture Books/E/Fox) by Mem Fox. In this circle-of-life story, Sophie grows up and becomes a mother as Grandpa ages.
  • Sweet, Sweet Memory (Picture Books/E/Woo) by Jacqueline Woodson. An African American girl balances the sadness of her grandfather‘s death by remembering that everyone and everything goes on and on.
  • Where Is Grandpa? (Picture Books/E/Bar) by T. A. Barron. After his grandfather dies, a young boy tries to understand where he has gone. Is Grandpa in heaven? What is death?

Loss of a Pet

  • Ada's Pal (Picture Books/E/Lyo) by George Ella Lyon. A little girl discovers how to help her heartbroken dog, Ada, recover from the death of another family pet.
  • The Berenstain Bears Lose a Friend by Stan and Jan Berenstain. How will the Bear family cope with the loss of Goldie, the best goldfish in the world?
  • Best Cat in the World (Picture Books/E/New) by Leslea Newmann. After his cat dies, a young boy eventually accepts a new and very different cat.
  • George, the Goldfish (Spanish/E/Morton) by Lone Morton. A bilingual book about the loss of a pet fish.
  • Good-bye Mousie (Picture Books/E/Har) by Robie H. Harris. A child discovers that it‘s perfectly okay to feel angry and sad when his pet mouse dies.
  • Jasper's Day (Picture Books/E/Par) by Marjorie Blain Parker. A family celebrates one final day with their dog who has cancer.
  • Jim's Dog Muffins (Easy Readers/ER/Coh) by Miriam Cohen. When Jim‘s dog is killed, the other first graders experience with him his natural reactions to death.
  • Mending Peter's Heart (Picture Books/E/Wit) by Maureen Wittbold. Old Mr. MacIntyre shares his own experience and heartbreak from the passing of a loved one so that Peter can come to terms with the death of his pet.
  • Saying Goodbye to Lulu (Picture Books/E/Dem) by Corinne Demas. A girl misses her dog, Lulu, but she is able to continue with her life.
  • Six is So Much Less Than Seven (Picture Books/E/Him) by Ronald Himler. An old man misses his cat as he goes about his daily farm chores.
  • The Tenth Good Thing about Barney (Picture Books/E/Vio) by Judith Viorst. In an attempt to overcome his grief, a boy tries to think of the ten best things about his dead cat.
  • Up in Heaven (Picture Books/E/Chi) by Emma Chichester Clark. Daisy the dog watches out for her owner after she dies and sends him dreams from heaven.
  • When a Pet Dies (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Rog) by Fred Rogers. Explores the feelings of frustration, sadness, and loneliness that a youngster may feel when a pet dies.
  • When Your Pet Dies (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Rya) by Victoria Ryan. A healing handbook for kids.

Loss of a Friend

  • Badger's Parting Gifts (Picture Books/E/Var) by Susan Varley. Badger‘s friends are sad when he dies, but they treasure the legacies he left them.
  • Bye, Mis' Lela (Picture Books/E/Car) by Dorothy Carter. An African American preschooler learns to say good-bye to her favorite babysitter after Mis‘ Lela dies.
  • City Dog, Country Frog (Picture Books/E/Willems) by Mo Willems. Through the seasons, whenever City Dog visits the country he runs straight for Country Frog‘s rock to play games with him, but during the winter things change for them both.
  • If Nathan Were Here (Picture Books/E/Bah) by Mary Bahr. When his best friend dies, a young boy‘s grief is guided with the help of a teacher, a neighbor, and his dad.
  • The Purple Balloon (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Ras) by Chris Raschka. Easy to read text reveals that dying is hard work for the old and especially for the young. Discusses ways to help a dying friend.
  • Remembering Crystal (Picture Books/E/Loth) by Sebastian Loth. Zelda is a young duck that lives in the garden. Her friend Crystal is a turtle who is growing old. The two do many things together. One day Crystal is not in the garden. But friendship never dies.

Loss of a Parent

  • After You Lose Someone You Love (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Den) by Amy, Allie, and David Dennison. The journals kept by three young children after the sudden death of their father.
  • Everett Anderson's Goodbye (Picture Books/E/Cli) by Lucille Clifton. Everett Anderson has a difficult time coming to terms with this grief after his father dies.
  • Mama's Going to Heaven Soon (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Cop) A loving, supportive father tells his children that their sick mother is going to die. Includes advice for caregivers on how to talk to youngsters about death.
  • Our Dad Died (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Den) by Amy, Allie, and David Dennison. Through journal entries, three siblings recount their memories during the first two years after their father died.
  • Samantha Jane's Missing Smile (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Kap) by Julie Kaplow. With the help of her neighbor Mrs. Cooper, Samantha Jane is able to talk about how sad she is since her father died, and then she begins to feel better.
  • When Mom or Dad Dies (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.9371/Gri) by Daniel Grippo. A book of comfort for kids.

Loss of a Sibling

  • Dancing on the Moon (Picture Books/E/Roper) by Janice Roper. A young girl experiences jealousy when her brother is born, then anxiety and sadness when he dies. In a dream she flies to the moon to bring him back and make her parents happy again
  • That Summer (Picture Books/E/Joh) by Tony Johnston. A boy grieves for his terminally ill brother.
  • What is Goodbye? (Juvenile Nonfiction/J811.54/Gri) by Nikki Grimes. A brother and sister use poetry to talk about their older brother‘s death.
  • Where's Jess?: for Children Who Have a Brother or Sister Die (Paperback Picture Books/ J) by Marv S. Johnson and Joy K. Johnson. A young child experiences a variety of feelings after the death of a sibling.
  • We Were Going to Have a Baby But We Had an Angel Instead (Paperback Picture Books /E/S) by Pat Schwiebert. A young boy describes his feelings about the death of a baby in his family.

General Help for Parents, Caregivers, and Children

  • Children Also Grieve: Talking about Death and Healing (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Gol) by Linda Goldman. An imaginative, fully illustrated, integrated storybook for bereaved children and those who care for them. Uses the death of a grandfather as an example.
  • Don't Despair on Thursdays: the Children's Grief-Management Book (Juvenile Nonfiction/ J155.937/Mos) by Adolph Moser. Examines how to deal with grief when people or pets die or when a friend moves away.
  • The Goodbye Boat (Picture Books/E/Jos) by Mary Joslin. In sparse phrases, death is shown as the beginning of yet another journey.
  • Guiding Your Child Through Grief (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Ems) by Mary Ann Emswiler.
  • I Found a Dead Bird: the Kids' Guide to the Cycle of Life and Death (Juvenile Nonfiction/ J306.9/Tho) by Jan Thornhill.
  • I Miss You: A First Look at Death (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Tho) by Pat Thomas. This reassuring picture book explores the difficult issue of death for young children. Their feelings and questions are addressed simply yet realistically.
  • Let's Talk About Going to a Funeral (Juvenile Nonfiction/J393.9/Joh) by Marianne Johnston. Some of the funeral rites and ceremonies practiced in America are explained for young children.
  • Lifetimes: A Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children (JuvenileNonfiction/J155.937/Mel) by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen. Tells about beginnings, endings and living in between of all living things from the tiniest insects to plants to people.
  • On That Day: A Book of Hope for Children (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.935/Pat) by Andrea Patel. Torn paper collages and simple text are combined to help young children and preschoolers make sense of tragedy.
  • Sad Isn't Bad (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Mun) by Michaelene Mundy. A good-grief guidebook for kids dealing with loss.
  • Talking about Death (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Bry) by Karen Bryant-Mole. Simple text and clear photographs present a wide range of the issues and feelings that accompany death.
  • When Dinosaurs Die (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Bro) by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown. Cartoon illustrations and well-written text address the curiosities and fears that primary-school-aged children may have about death.
  • Where Do People Go When They Die? (Juvenile Nonfiction/J155.937/Por) by Mindy Avra Portnoy. This book provides a variety of answers to the title‘s common childhood question.

More Good Books

If you don‘t see what you want here, we‘d be glad to find other good books for you. Call 217/403–2030 or e-mail librarian@champaign.org