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Coping with Death

The following resources are designed to assist you in helping the young people in your life understand and cope with death. The list includes general books on grieving and explaining death to children, sections arranged by the most common types of losses experienced by children and books for older children to read independently.

General Resources for Adults

Talking about Death: A Dialogue between Parent and Child
by Earl Grollman  J PARENT 155.937 GRO
This title is a comprehensive guide for adults about discussing death with children of different ages who are facing different types of losses.  118 pgs.

35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child
by Donald W. Spencer  J PARENT 155.937 THI
This resource offers multiple ways to cope with common experiences children have during the grieving process and offers practical help and anecdotes.  49 pgs.

General Resources to Share with Young People

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death
by Laurene Krasny Brown  J PARENT 155.937 BRO
This picture book explores the common questions children may have about death like what it means to be alive and dead, ways people die and feelings we have when people die.  Unpaged.

Children Also Grieve: Talking about Death and Healing
by Linda Goldman  J PARENT 155.937 GOL
Narrated by the dog of a family in which the human grandfather has died, this scrapbook-style book explores the different reactions people have to grief and how they can cope with their emotions.  79 pgs.

When Someone Dies
by Sharon Greenlee  J PARENT 155.937 GRE
This book speaks directly to a young person who has lost someone he or she loves and addresses common feelings and how to handle them.  Unpaged.

Lifetimes: A Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children
by Bryan Mellonie  J PARENT 155.937 LIF
Exploring the cycle of life and death in nature, this title explains death as a normal part of the cycle of life for all beings.  40 pgs.

Healing Your Grieving Heart for Kids: 100 Practical Ideas: Simple Advice and Activities for Children after a Death
by Alan D. Wolfelt  J PARENT 155.937 WOL
This book offers practical strategies for coping with the variety of emotions one faces after the loss of a loved one.  Unpaged.

A Terrible Thing Happened
by Margaret Holmes  J PARENT HOLMES
This book follows a young animal coping with witnessing a traumatic event and his complex emotional responses including depression, anxiety and anger.  31 pgs.

The Purple Balloon
by Christopher Raschka  J PARENT RASCHKA
Emphasizing the way other people can help smooth the passage when someone is dying, this book depicts the death of an elderly person, then transitions into the topic of children facing terminal illness.  Unpaged.

Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing after Loss
by Pat Schwiebert J PARENT SCHWIEBERT
Making soup is used as a metaphor for the complexities of the grieving process in this picture book that follows an older woman, Grandy, as she undertakes the long process of recovery from a monumental loss. This story is also available as a DVD.  51 pgs.

J NONFICTION about Death and Grieving

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages
by Leo Buscaglia  J 155 BUS
In this classic story that depicts a leaf’s life and death, the cycle of living and dying is explained in terms of the seasons.  32 pgs.

Coping with Grieving and Loss
by Sandra Giddens  J 155.937 GID
This title, written for an adolescent audience, provides advice on navigating the feelings that accompany loss and includes many quotations from real teenagers coping with the death of a loved one.  122 pgs.  Also available in e-book format.

Death
by Patricia J. Murphy  J 155.937 MUR
This title answers basic questions about death and the reactions people have to it in simple terms.  32 pgs.

See J 155.937 for other nonfiction titles about grieving written for young people.

 

Books Organized by Common Types of Losses

Loss of an Animal

When a Pet Dies
by Fred Rogers  J PARENT 155.937 ROG
Mr. Rogers explains that animals can become sick and die. He covers visiting the vet, the range of emotions one may feel after an animal’s death and ways to say goodbye.  32 pgs.

Good-bye, Sheepie
by Robert Burleigh  J PARENT BURLEIGH
When Owen’s dog, Sheepie, grows old and dies, he and his father bury the dog together and remember Sheepie’s life.  Unpaged.

Ricky and the Squirrel
by Guido van Genechten  J PARENT GENECHTEN
When a little rabbit named Ricky finds a squirrel unmoving in the woods, he is alarmed and confused. After his mother explains to him what death is, they bury the squirrel together.  Unpaged.

Big Cat Pepper
by Elizabeth Partridge  J PARENT PARTRIDGE
In this rhyming tale, a boy observes the decline and death of his pet cat and eventually comes to accept the loss.  Unpaged.

Desser, the Best Ever Cat
by Maggie Smith  J PARENT SMITH
A little girl fondly recalls the life of her family’s recently deceased cat, Desser. The tale ends with her bonding with her new kitten by telling the kitten about Desser.  Unpaged.

Harry & Hopper
by Margaret Wild  J PARENT WILD
When Harry's beloved dog, Hopper, is killed in an accident, Harry is inconsolable. Hopper begins visiting him every night to relive their times together until Harry is able to let go.  Unpaged.

Kate, the Ghost Dog: Coping with the Death of a Pet
by Wayne L. Wilson  J PARENT WILSON
This longer title for elementary-age students follows Aleta from the time she discovers her pet unmoving until she learns to accept the animal’s death. It offers advice to readers for coping with a pet's death.  48 pgs.

Saying Goodbye to Lulu
by Corinne Demas  JE DEMAS
A girl faces the decline and death of her dog and grieves her loss. She accepts Lulu’s death and realizes she can love another dog, too.  Unpaged.

A Dog like Jack
by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan  JE DISALVO-RYAN
A boy remembers the special relationship he shared with his pet as his family mourns the dog's death of old age.  Unpaged.

Cat Heaven
by Cynthia Rylant  JE RYLANT
This book depicts an imagined paradise where cats go to be with God after death.  Unpaged.  See also Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.

The Tenth Good Thing about Barney
by Judith Viorst  JE VIORST
A boy copes with the death of his cat by thinking about ten good things to say about his cat at the funeral.  25 pgs.

Loss of a Grandparent

Where is Grandpa?
by T.A. Barron  J PARENT BARRON
A family reminisces about a boy’s recently deceased grandfather. When the boy asks where grandpa is now, he is comforted by the idea that grandpa is in all the places where they shared good times.  Unpaged.

Grandma’s Purple Flowers
by Adjoa J. Burrowes  J PARENT BURROWES
This story depicts a girl’s special relationship with her grandmother. When her grandmother dies, she is very sad but eventually comes to remember her grandmother with joy.  30 pgs.

Grandma's Gloves
by Cecil Castellucci  J PARENT CASTELLUCCI
A girl copes with her grandmother's decline and death by remembering the happy times they shared gardening together. With her grandmother's gardening gloves as a keepsake, she vows to teach her own mother to garden.  Unpaged.

One More Wednesday
by Malika Doray  J PARENT DORAY
A small animal recalls his memories of his granny and her death, the ways his mother explained to him what it meant, and how he eventually felt glad to remember their time together.  48 pgs.

Grandma’s Gone to Live in the Stars
by Max Haynes  J PARENT HAYNES
In this very simple picture book, a grandmother dies in her bed. Her spirit then says goodbye to each of her family members in turn and flies off to live in the stars.  32 pgs.

Stones for Grandpa
by Renee Londner  J PARENT LONDNER
One year after his grandfather's death, a young Jewish boy goes to his grandfather's tombstone and remembers his year without grandpa.  Unpaged.

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs
by Tomie dePaola  JE DE PAOLA
In this classic picture book of a first experience with death, a small boy has warm relationships with his two grandmothers. When one of them dies, he learns what death means.  Unpaged.

Grandad Bill’s Song
by Jane Yolen  JE YOLEN
A little boy asks all his family members what they did when his grandad Bill died, and their answers and memories display a range of ways to respond to grief.  Unpaged.

Losses from the Extended Family and Community

I Had a Friend Named Peter: Talking to Children about the Death of a Friend
by Janice Cohn  J PARENT 155.937 COH
When a kindergarten girl’s playmate is struck and killed by a car, her parents help her cope with her response to the loss and answer her questions about dying.  32 pgs.

When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens about Grieving & Healing
by Marilyn E. Gootman  J PARENT 155.937 GOO
Written by a parent and educator whose own children lost a friend to death, this book addresses common feelings and questions teens may have when a friend dies.  118 pgs.

Saying Good-bye to Uncle Joe: What to Expect When Someone You Love Dies
by Nancy Loewen  J PARENT 155.937 LOE
This picture book follows a young animal through the time after his Uncle Joe’s death and includes advice about different elements of grieving.  24 pgs.

I Remember Miss Perry
by Pat Brisson  J PARENT BRISSON
When a boy’s teacher dies suddenly in a car accident, the class grieves together by sharing memories about her.  Unpaged.

Remembering Crystal
by Sebastian Loth  J PARENT LOTH
This gentle tale about a duck that has lost her best friend, a turtle, follows the duck's search for her friend until she discovers her friend is still with her in her heart.  Unpaged.

Loss of a Sibling

Ben’s Flying Flowers
by Inger Maier  J PARENT MAIER
Emily loves to play with her little brother, who calls butterflies, “flying flowers,” but he is very sick. When he dies, Emily feels angry and sad, but eventually she learns to come to terms with the loss.  Unpaged.

Stacy Had a Little Sister
by Wendie C. Old  J PARENT OLD
Stacy is beginning to adjust to having a new sibling when her baby sister dies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Her parents help her process her confusion, sadness and guilt.  Unpaged.

Always My Brother
by Jean Reagan  J PARENT REAGAN
A grieving girl experiences healing in the year following her brother’s death.  Unpaged.

Loss of a Parent

Saying Goodbye To -- a Parent
by Nicola Edwards  J PARENT 155.937 EDW
This book discusses the variety of experiences young people may have following the loss of a parent and examples of ways children dealt with their losses.  32 pgs.

Missing Mommy
by Rebecca Cobb  J PARENT COBB
A very young child moves through a range of confusing emotions as he mourns the loss of his mother.  Unpaged.

The Scar
by Charlotte Moundlic  J PARENT MOUNDLIC
This frank tale depicts a young boy struggling to cope with the painful emotions he feels after his mother's death.  Unpaged.

Saying Goodbye to Daddy
by Judith Vigna  J PARENT VIGNA
Clare’s family helps her through the time after her dad dies in a car accident.  30 pgs.

Fiction for Students about Death - J FICTION (Grades 3 – 5)

Her Mother’s Face
by Roddy Doyle  J DOYLE
A girl cannot remember the face of her mother who died years ago, but a mysterious stranger in the park tells her a secret that helps her remember.  Unpaged.

Sun & Spoon
by Kevin Henkes  J HENKES
Following his grandmother’s death, Spoon searches for a way to remember her.  135 pgs.

Remembering Mrs. Rossi
by Amy Hest  J HEST
A third-grade girl mourns her mother’s death and grieves with the help of a scrapbook of memories made by her mother’s former students.  143 pgs.

Edward’s Eyes
by Patricia MacLachlan  J MACLACHLAN
Jake shares his fond memories of his brother who died in an accident and how he finally came to terms with his loss by seeing how Edward’s corneas were donated to just the right person.  116 pgs.

Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson  J PATERSON
Jess, a ten-year-old boy, enjoys a friendship with a new girl in school, and then loses her when she drowns in a storm on the way to their special place.  128 pgs.

A Taste of Blackberries
by Doris Buchanan Smith  J SMITH
A boy grieves his best friend who dies suddenly from an allergic reaction to a bee sting.  58 pgs.

Fiction for Students about Death - JH FICTION (Grades 6 – 8)

See You at Harry’s
by Johanna Knowles  JH KNOWLES
Fern feels responsible when her three-year-old brother dies after an accident, and she struggles with her guilt while everyone else is preoccupied with their own problems.  310 pgs.

Love, Aubrey
by Suzanne LaFleur  JH LAFLEUR
After the loss of her sibling and father in a car accident, Aubrey lives with her grandmother after her mother’s grief renders her unable to take care of Aubrey.  262 pgs.

Ways to Live Forever
by Sally Nicholls  JH NICHOLLS
Sam, an eleven-year-old, has leukemia. He writes about his experiences in the last few months before he dies, including the death of his terminally ill friend.  212 pgs.

Mick Harte Was Here
by Barbara Park  JH PARK
An eighth grader deals with her younger brother's unexpected death from a bicycle accident while remembering his antics and irrepressible spirit.  89 pgs.

After Eli
by Rebecca Rupp  JH RUPP
Danny is eleven years old when his brother is killed in Iraq. Three years later, he is still coming to terms with the loss.  245 pgs.

Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze
by Alan Silberberg  JH SILBERBERG
In this novel told with both cartoons and text, Milo faces the trials of seventh grade with humor while also grieving the loss of his mother.  275 pgs.

EMC 11/13