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10 Books That Explain Death and Grief to Children

10 Books That Explain Death and Grief to ChildrenThere are some things in life that are just not easy to face head on. As parents we try our best to protect our children from any pain or sadness, but just as birth is a part of living — so is dying.

I am lucky that I haven’t said “goodbye” to too many people. I have all my grandparents, parents, siblings and many friends by my side. In my 30 years of life I’ve had to say “goodbye” to a fair amount of people — from my husband’s grandmother, my babies I never got to hold, to some close friends and pets.

Growing up, my only experience with grief was the death of my beloved cats — and that’s not to say that that grief is any easier than losing a person. That was my early experience and so far, my children have had the same. We have explained the death of our rabbit and they, of course, know of the children that I lost early in my pregnancy. It’s not an easy thing for them to grasp and certainly not fun to explain to them, but it’s a subject in life we can’t always avoid.

We have books at home for our kids that tackle some bigger topics in life (apart from their entertainment or language-learning books). We have books on pregnancy, birth, and newborns. These books help answer some basic questions in simple language and with illustrations. I think the biggest thing my kids get from these type of books is having a door opened for them to ask questions — which we all know kids have a lot of.

While we have not had too much need for children’s books that explain dying, death and grief, there are some great books available that can help answer some basic questions and, more importantly, help ease the beginning of specific discussions for kids.

Click through to see 10 children’s books that explain dying, death and grief:


  • What’s Heaven 1 of 10
    What's Heaven
    Written by Maria Shriver, this book comes from a religious angle and answers questions about Heaven. It serves as a good starting point to discuss dying, death and grief.
    Buy from Amazon, $10.20
  • Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children 2 of 10
    Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children
    Author Bryan Mellonie shares the cycle of life from birth to death. Bryan discusses different species' life cycles from plants to animals to people, it explains that dying is as much a part of life as being born.
    Buy from Amazon, $10.08
  • Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies 3 of 10
    Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies
    This book uses art therapy and exercises to guide children through the feelings of loss and grief. It allows children to express their emotions through drawing what they can't (or won't) express out loud.
    Buy from Amazon, $9.95
  • Sad Isn’t Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing with Loss 4 of 10
    Sad Isn't Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing with Loss
    This book written by Michaelene Mundy uses positive language that helps children deal with death. Affirming some important questions like the safety of the world, this book is also sensitive to different religious beliefs.
    Buy from Amazon, $10.36
  • Gentle Willow: A Story for Children about Dying 5 of 10
    Gentle Willow: A Story for Children about Dying
    Author Joyce Mills tackles death and grief when a known illness is present. Using a willow tree that is dying, it uses great illustrations and simple language to tackle some tough questions.
    Buy from Amazon, $14.95
  • Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children 6 of 10
    Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children
    This book, written by author Doris Stickney, uses the life of the dragonfly to talk about what happens when we leave the world. It doesn't use language that promotes fear, which is good for younger children.
    Buy from Amazon, $16.20
  • I Miss You: A First Look At Death 7 of 10
    I Miss You: A First Look At Death
    Author, psychotherapist and counselor Pat Thomas writes this book in an easy-to-understand way for kids. It discusses death as a natural thing, and grief and sadness as being sad, but it's all going to be okay.
    Buy from Amazon, $7.99
  • The Next Place 8 of 10
    The Next Place
    Written by Warren Hanson, this book has gorgeous illustrations paired with tackling questions on where people go when they die.
    Buy from Amazon, $11.53
  • The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages 9 of 10
    The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages
    Written by author Leo Buscaglia, this book uses the leaves to explain death and different stages of life in an easier-to-understand way for children.
    Buy from Amazon, $10.12
  • When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death 10 of 10
    When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death
    By author Laurie Krasny Brown, this book answers the common questions kids have after someone dies. Answered honestly and frankly paired with great illustrations.
    Buy from Amazon, $7.99

Photo credit: adapted from iStockPhoto

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