Children's Books on Death, Loss, and Grieving

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This post is part of the Children's Ministry Toolkit - a collection of resources for building strong and vibrant children's ministry, brought to you by Faith Formation Ministries.

While dealing with loss and grief can be difficult for anyone, children’s reactions may differ from those of adults. Picture books provide a way of engaging and talking with children about grief.

Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children by Doris Stickney: this is a coloring book that speaks of death through analogy and transformation. It reads like a parable and leads to hope and hopefulness. Highly recommended.

Someone I Love Died by Christine Harder Tangvald: a classic that helps children understand grief and loss with age-appropriate words and biblical truth. It includes resources for children as well as for adults, including ways to create a memory book of the loved one’s life.

The Memory Box by Joanna Rowland, illustrations by Thea Baker: a sensitive storybook that addresses the subject of death and loss from a child’s perspective. Provides ideas to help a child with the grieving process and encourages them to talk about their loss and grief.

The Heart and the Bottle  by Oliver Jeffers: a simple story about the painful emotions that occur after a loss. While young children might not understand all the nuances this book offers, it is a wonderful book for parent to share with his or her child as they grieve together.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst: this book addresses children’s fear of being apart from someone they love and discusses being connected to the ones we care about through love (the invisible string). Can be used to talk about all kinds of separation, not limited to death.  

Tear Soup by Pat Schwiebert: this book talks about the “recipe” for grief and affirms that there are many different responses to grief. Can open the door for in-depth discussion between parent and child about grief and grief responses. Appropriate for elementary-age children.

When Dinosaurs Die by Laurie Krasky Brown and Marc Brown: this book is sorted of a guided tour through all different questions about death. Straightforward and helpful when navigating all different types of death.  

The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr: a book with compelling illustrations and simple statements yet effective to talk about feelings associated with loss and grief. Appropriate for young children. 

I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas: a simple book designed to help children understand how death is part of life and that the feelings of grief are normal. This book does not come from a Christian perspective but it is usable in a Christian context.  

If Nathan Were Here by Mary Bahr: this book explores the grief when a friend dies. With beautiful watercolor illustrations, this book is appropriate for ages 5 and up.

Grandpa, Is There a Heaven? by Katherine Bohlmann and David Erickson: a story of a child asking questions to his grandfather, this book is designed to help answer the difficult questions children ask about God’s plan for his people through Jesus Christ.

Anna's Heaven by Stian Hole:this book follows Anna and her father as they make their way to Anna’s mother’s funeral. Along the way, they remember memories, discuss hard questions, and talk about what heaven is like. Beautifully illustrated, this book is appropriate for ages 6-10.

Forever with Jesus by Lee Ann Mancini: in this book which is part of the Adventures of the Sea Kids series, the sea kids visit their grandparents where the neighbor has passed away.  The kids learn that because of belief in Jesus, there is no need to fear death for heaven is a place where there is no more pain or suffering.  Appropriate for preschoolers.

Have questions? Our Children's Ministry Catalyzer would love to talk with you about faith formation in children at your church. Email [email protected]

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