End of Life

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

Compiled by:
Lily J.
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.

Dadaji's Paintbrush

Rashmi Sirdeshpande
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Sir)

A young boy and his grandfather share a love of painting, but after his grandfather dies the boy isn't sure he will ever want to paint again. When a girl in the village asks him to teach her to paint, the boy realizes that painting is a way to keep his grandfather's memory and love alive. Recommended for ages 3–6. 

Death is Stupid

Anastasia Higginbotham
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 155.937 Hig)
Series: Ordinary Terrible Things

This book 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 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.

Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?

Elke Barber
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 155.937 Bar)

When 3-year-old Alex's father dies suddenly of a heart attack, his mother explains what happened and that his father can never come back in words that Alex can understand. Recommended for ages 3–6. 

Luna's Red Hat

Emmi Smid
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 155.937 Smi)

One year after her mum's death, Luna struggles to understand why her mum took her own life. Her dad explains what happened, and together they talk about all the happy memories they have of her mum. Includes a guide for discussing death by suicide with children. Recommended for ages 6–9. 

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 their loved one. The book 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. Many people help when a person dies, including medical staff, clergy, friends, and family members. 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. 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.

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.

Zora, the Story Keeper

Ebony Joy Wilkins
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Wil)

Zora loves her Aunt Bea and the stories she tells about their family members. As Aunt Bea grows increasingly sick, the stories become less frequent, until they stop all together. After Aunt Bea's passing, Zora realizes that Aunt Bea was preparing her to be the next story keeper. Recommended for ages 4–8. 

Older Elementary

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. Recommended for ages 8–12.


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.

Worst-Case Collin

Rebecca Caprara
(Juvenile Fiction - J Caprara)

Collin struggles with anxiety and grief after the death of his mother, and his father's resulting hoarding problems. Told in verse with pages from Collin's worse-case scenarios notebook interspersed. Recommended for ages 8–12.