End of Life

Death is a difficult topic for everyone, but especially to children. With this list of books, you can feel prepared to talk about the emotions surrounding the end of life and answer questions about death to help ease the grief of children.


Compiled by:
Children's Services Staff

Picture Books and Younger Elementary

The Boy and the Gorilla

Jackie Azúa Kramer
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Azu)

On the day of his mother's funeral, a young boy conjures the very visitor he needs to see - a gorilla. Recommended for ages 6-9.


Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories

Audrey Penn
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Pen)

After his mother explains why his classmate is not returning to school, she teaches Chester Raccoon how to make a memory. Recommended for ages 3-6.


Cry, Heart, but Never Break

Glenn Ringtved
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Rin)

Aware their grandmother is gravely ill, four siblings realize the value of loss to life and the importance of being able to say goodbye. Recommended for ages 3-6.


The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye

Jane Yolen
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Yol)

A cat whose kitten days are far behind her says goodbye to her human family, and the animals and places that have made her life special, before leaving this life behind. Recommended for ages 3-6.


Death is Stupid

Anastasia Higginbotham
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 155.937 Hig)
Series: Ordinary terrible things

Walks through the emotions and confusion it is common for young people to experience when someone dies, and describes some of the ways to celebrate love and life. Recommended for ages 6-9.


The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages

Leo Buscaglia
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 155.937 Bu)

We follow Freddie through the seasons of his life on the tree, until he learns that death is a natural part of life. No religious content. Recommended for ages 6-9.


The Funeral

Matt James
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Jam)

Norma goes to the funeral of her Uncle Frank and while not all questions can be answered, when the day is over Norma is certain of one thing: Uncle Frank would have enjoyed his funeral. Recommended for ages 3-6.


The Goodbye Book

Todd Parr
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Par)

Illustrations and brief text relate how a person might feel when they lose someone they love. Recommended for ages 3-6.


The Heart and the Bottle

Oliver Jeffers
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Jef)

After safeguarding her heart in a bottle hung around her neck, a girl finds the bottle growing heavier and her interest in things around her becoming smaller. Recommended for ages 3-6.


The Memory Box: A Book About Grief

Joanna Rowland
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Row)

Grieving over the death of a special person, a young child creates a memory box to keep memories of the loved one. Includes a guide for parents with information from a Christian perspective. Recommended for ages 3-6.


Missing Mommy

Rebecca Cobb
(Juvenile Picture Books – Ej Cobb)

A young boy misses his mother when she has died, but his family talks about their memories and love of her. Recommended for ages 3-6.


The Purple Balloon

Christopher Raschka
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Ras)

Dying is hard work, for the old and especially the young, but many people help when a person dies, from medical staff to clergy and friends to family members. No religious content. Recommended for ages 6-9.


Samantha Jane's Missing Smile: A Story About Coping with the Loss of a Parent

Julie Kaplow
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Kap)

With the help of her neighbor Mrs. Cooper, Samantha Jane is able to talk about how sad she is since her father died, and then she begins to feel better. No religious content. Recommended for ages 3-6.


Saturdays Are For Stella

Candy Wellins
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Wel)

George loves spending Saturdays with his grandmother, Stella. One day, Stella is gone and George is ready to cancel Saturdays--until he finds a way to honor the memories of his beloved grandmother. Recommended for ages 3-6.


A Stone for Sascha

Aaron Becker
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Bec)

A young girl, still reeling from her dog's death, finds solace while picking up stones on the beach during her family's vacation. Recommended for ages 6-9.


What Happens When a Loved One Dies?: Our First Talk About Death

Jillian Roberts
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 155.937 Rob)

It can be difficult to know how to talk to about death. This book features diverse families and cultural traditions and introduces concepts of life after death and reincarnation. Recommended for ages 3-6.


Older Elementary

Birdie

Eileen Spinelli
(Juvenile Fiction - J Spinell)

Birdie Briggs loves birds. They bring her comfort when she thinks about her dad, a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty. Life without her dad isn’t easy. Recommended for ages 8-12.


My Father's Words

Patricia MacLachlan
(Juvenile Fiction - J Maclach)

Fiona and Finn O'Brien lose their father. Their mother is at a loss. What words are there to guide them through such overwhelming grief? Recommended for ages 8-12.


Summerlost

Allyson Braithwaite Condie
(Juvenile Fiction - J Condie)

Following the sudden deaths of her father and autistic younger brother, Cedar Lee spends the summer working at a Shakespearean theater festival, making a new friend, and coming to terms with her grief. Recommended for ages 8-12.


When People Die

Jane Lacey
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 155.937 Lac)

Readers will learn about the best ways to handle death through the help of relatable stories and practical advice. Recommended for ages 8-12.