Loss and Bereavement: Recommended Books for Children

The Heart and the Bottle

By Oliver Jeffers

The themes of love, loss and emotions are explored by award-winning author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers in this uplifting and beautiful tale. Once there was a girl who was full of wonderment at how the world worked, until one day her parent’s chair was empty and everything changed – how would she find joy and meaning again?

Her Mother’s Face

By Roddy Doyle

In this book Roddy Doyle and Freya Blackwood create a story of love, loss and memory in families Siobhán was three years old when her mother died. Siobhán and her live in their house in Dublin where they never talk about Siobhán’s mother. They never talk about her, and now, at ten years old, Siobhán no longer remembers her mother’s face but one day she meets someone who can help with that.  Age 5-8

I Miss You: a First Look at Death

By Pat Thomas

When a close friend or family member dies, it can be difficult for children to express their feelings. This book helps children to understand that death is a natural part of life, and that grief and a sense of loss are normal feelings to have. It also describes different cultural traditions followed when someone dies. Written by psychotherapist and counselor Pat Thomas, the “First Look At” series promotes interaction between children, parents, and teachers. The story lines are simple and direct, and there are beautiful illustrations on every page. Age 6-11

Badger’s Parting Gifts

By Susan Varley

This award-winning  book has proven its timelessness and power in helping children to understand death. First published in 1984,  a 35th anniversary edition was published in 2019. The story is about a badger who is so old that he knows he will die soon. His friends don’t want to think about it, but he tries to prepare them. When he does die they are filled with grief, but they come to terms with missing their friend by remembering the things he taught them.

The anniversary edition Features a helpful reading guide from Child Bereavement UK which provides tips for reading Badger’s Parting Gifts with children.

All Shining in the Spring: The Story of a Baby Who Died

By Siobhán Parkinson

Matthew, an only child, is delighted when he hears that his mother is going to have a baby. Later, he is told that the baby will not live and he and his parents comfort each other. Age 3-7

The Carousel

by Liz Rosenberg

Two sisters remember their mother as they visit the carousel in the park. Age 7-10

Chasing Redbird

by Sharon Creech

A moving story about Zinny who is devastated when her beloved Aunt Jessie dies. She escapes from her chaotic family and tries to come to terms with her grief. Age 12-15

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

By Susan Wojciechowski

Jonathan Toomey has become cold and hard since the death of his wife and baby. As he works on nativity figures ordered by a widow and her son, his heart gradually unfreezes. Age 6-9

Come Back, Grandma

Sue Limb

Bessie loves her Grandmother very much. When she dies, Bessie never stops missing her until she grows up and has a daughter who is just like Grandma. Age 4-7


by Karen Bryant-Mole

A simple, accessible book which focuses on the feelings of children when someone they know dies. Age 6-10

The Ghost Twin

by Richard Brown

James and his parents still miss his twin Joe terribly even though he’s been dead for three years. After his death, James becomes even more introverted until he meets Joe’s ghost. Age 10-13

Goodbye Pappa

by Una Leavy

Shane and Peter love staying at their grandfather’s. After they return home, he dies suddenly and they return for the funeral. Their mother suggests that they should remember all the happy times they shared. A picture book for sharing. Age 4-7


by Nicholas Allan

A little girl has a conversation about heaven with her dog. Age 4-8

I Must Tell You Something

by Arno Bo

Nine year old Rosemary tells the moving story of her family’s stay in hospital after a car accident in which they are all badly injured. Her mother dies and they have to come to terms with her death. Age 9-12

It Isn’t Easy

by Margaret Connolly

A gentle story about a boy and his family after his brother is killed in an accident. Age 4-9

Jenny Angel

by Margaret Wild

Jenny is convinced that she is a guardian angel who can keep her dying brother alive if she watches over him. A poignant picture book about coming to terms with death. Age 6-9

Just Grandpa and Me

by Sally Grindley

A story about a little boy’s happy day out with his Grandpa as they remember Grandma. A comforting book for sharing with a child who has recently lost a grandparent. Age 4-8

Karen’s Goldfish

by Ann M. Martin

Karen is very upset when her pet goldfish dies. She feels better after holding a funeral and inviting her friends. Age 7-9

The Kite and Caitlyn

by Roger McGough

A moving story about a little girl who is terminally ill when she inherits a kite. She keeps it by her bed and dreams of all the places she will fly it. Age 5-8

Lone Wolf

by Kristine L. Franklin

After the tragic death of his baby sister, Perry’s parents decide to separate. He and his dad move to a cabin in the woods and live in isolation until a new family moves in and Perry is forced to face things he’s tried to forget. Age 11-14

My Grandad (also published as Remembering Grandad)

By Sheila Isherwood

A little girl remembers all the happy and special times she has had with her Grandad before he died. Age 4-8

Old Pig

by Margaret Wild

A gentle story about Old Pig who prepares herself and her granddaughter for her imminent death. Age 4-8

Remembering My Brother

by Ginny Perkins

Greg’s older brother Chris died a while ago. He tells us how he and his family miss and remember him. Age 4-9

Rhythm and Blues

by Anne Bailey

Matti is still grieving for her mother when her father announces that his two daughters from another relationship are moving in. Things seem even worse when she learns that one of her half-sisters is dying of cancer. Age 13-16

River Boy

by Tim Bowler

A poignant novel about a 15 year old Jess and her dying grandfather. They return to his boyhood home where he is determined to finish his last painting. Age 12-15

Sara Takes Charge

by Joyce A. Stengel

When Sara and Davey’s mother dies, their father buries himself in his work leaving twelve year old Sara to worry about everything. Age 9-12


by Elizabeth Dale

When Ben’s dog dies, he thinks he will never be happy or want another pet again. As time passes, he remembers the happy times they shared and can move on with his life. Age 6-9

Sink or Swim

by Gillian Potts

William has not spoken about his dad since he died. One day he rescues a baby from the river using the skills his dad taught him. Only then does he feel that he can talk about his dad to his mum. Age 7-9


by Marjorie Newman Watts

Steve and Gemma’s dad is killed in an accident. It takes them time to get over the shock and learn to live without him. Age 9-12

When People Die

by Sarah Levete

A book for sharing with a child which explains what death is, why people die, what happens afterwards and how to cope with grief. Age 6-9

Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young

by Doris Stickney

When author Stickney tried to explain the death of a 5-year-old friend to neighbourhood children, she told them what would become the story of Water Bugs and Dragonflies. The book offers a reassuring, graceful look at life and death for kids, telling them that their loved ones are always looking down on them. Age 4+