7 Books To Help Kids Learn About Death
Trying to tell one of your kids about death can be immensely difficult. Not only are you likely to be grieving yourself but now you have to break the news to your little one. It can be hard to understand and accept but thankfully there are many great books that can help.
Here are 7 books that will help them learn about death and hopefully allow them to process it in the best way possible.
7 best books about dealing with death for kids
1. I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas
It’s commonly accepted by child experts that the best way to approach talking about death is to be clear and direct. That means using terms such as ‘died’ and not ‘passed away’. It may seem to be harsher language but children can be more resilient than you think and you don’t want to confuse them.
That’s where this book excels. It explains death simply and directly but without being too blunt. It’s fairly short but manages to capture the life cycle, how people die, what happens after they die and explains how those of different faiths treat death differently.
It’s perfect for small children and helps to normalize death and show them that it’s simply a part of life. I read it to my daughter recently and it allowed her to ask questions and process what happened.
2. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
If you're looking for a long book that deals perfectly with death then there's no better option than Goodnight Mister Tom. It's a classic and shows how deaths can impact a young child (the character Will) and how he copes with it.
It has a suggested reading level of around 8-12 years but you can read it to your child if they are a little younger than that. Rather than reading it to them directly after a death, this is a great book to teach them about death. This can be very useful for simply building life experience in anticipation of a death, such as the terminal illness of a relative.
3. Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
A lot of books use the death of animals to soften the subject. This is a book that does it very well while still providing your child with all the information they need. It’s another story that I read to my daughter recently and it helps to focus on celebrating a life rather than focusing on what you’ve lost.
It’s called Badger’s Parting Gifts as the ‘parting gifts’ are the knowledge and memories that he has left behind. The story is heartwarming and follows the badger who knows that he will soon day in old age. It makes it the perfect book after losing a grandparent or great-grandparent.
4. The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
In a similar way to Badger's Parting Gifts, this book shows children that they are always connected to people even if they are no longer with them. It does so under the metaphor of an invisible string that is between them and everyone they know.
It not only helps with dealing with death but also if they have separation anxiety or loneliness. The book is a great educator and will teach children important lessons in an understandable way. The illustrations are also perfect and will engage your children in the subject matter.
5. The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup
The Memory Tree is another which uses animals to explain death. In this book, it's about a fox who goes to sleep forever in the snow. He’s lived a happy life but now is the time for him to pass away and complete the circle of life.
After he passes away, his friends all come to his side and tell their favorite stories about him. It allows your kids to open up about their favorite memories of someone they have lost. It explains the importance of memories and how they keep you connected with anyone you love.
6. Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies
Here we see a book with plays with the idea of someone going to a better place but not mentioning heaven. In this case, the grandad in the story travels to a beautiful island and decides to stay there while his grandson sails back to reality.
When the grandson (Syd) goes to visit his grandad’s house again, he’s not there. It utilizes the power of memories while telling the story in a sensitive way but in enough depth to allow children to understand loss. The illustrations are fantastic which makes it an even better read.
7. Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola
Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs is a book that deals with the loss of both a grandparent and great grandparent. It’s the story of a boy whose best friend is his ‘nana upstairs’ which is his 94-year-old great grandmother.
The story shows how the boy deals with the loss of his relatives and explains loss in a soft but realistic way. It’s a touching story that is true of many close family relationships. It not only explains death but also compassion and the importance of family.
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