By: Lisa Sammarco
Death is an enevidable part
of life. At some point in life everyone will be faced with a loss of a loved
one. Often times people are ill equipped to deal with the loss of someone
close to them. When a child experiences death directly, whether through the
death of a pet or a loved one, it is an emotional time that must be dealt
with. I have found through my research that there is a lot of childrens literature
out there that can aid a child though the greiving process. The following
web page is dedicated to books that could be used in a third through fifth
grade classroom. There are also several book that could be used at higher
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf
Buscaglia, Leo. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf. Henry Holt and Company, Incorporated, 1982.
This is a simple story of a leaf named Freddie. Freddie and his other leaf companions change throughout the seasons. In the fall they begin to change until they finally fall to the ground in the winter. This book illustrates the balance between life and death. This book touches the hearts of both young and old.
When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to
Brown, Laurie. When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death. Little, Brown, and
Company, 1998. Ilustrator: Marc Brown
This is a simple book that uses dinosaurs to talk about death. It uses simple language to explain feelings children may have regarding the loss of a loved one. It also talks about how children can honor the memory of someone that has passed. This book is a part of a series on books for children who are going through rough times, such as divorce.
I'll Always Love You
Wilhelm, Hans . I’ll Always Love You. Crown Books for Young Readers, 1985.
In this story, Elfie, a dachshund, and her specail boy go through life happily together. Then one morning something tragic happens, Elfie dies. The family greives for their loss and buries her. This book allow people to bring back the happiness and allow the greiving process to begin. Anyone that owns a pet should have this book in their household.
A Special Place For Charlee
Morehead, Debby. A Special Place for Charlee: A Child's Companion through Pet Loss. Partners in
A story about how a boy copes with the loss of his dog, Charlee and how his parents learn how to help him throughout the painful, but important process of grief.
What Happens When We Die?
Nysrom, Carolyn. What Happens When We Die?. New York: Moody Press, 1992.
Ilustrator: Eria Reeves
This is a very simple book that talks about death, heaven, and Christ's death and resurrection. Children have many questions about the Christian life. This award-winning series will help you answer questions while spurring them on to godly living.
The Day I Saw My Father Cry
Cosby, Bill. The Day I Saw My Father Cry. New York: Scholastic, Inc.,1999.
This wonderful book was written by the actor Bill Cosby. Little Bill confronts two powerful emotions, anger and grief - in this important story in which Little Bill loses a special friend. The colorful drawings and simple language help to teach one of lifes lessons. This book is a good pick for a first book on greif/loss.
What on Earth Do You Do When Someone
Romain, Trevor . What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies. Free Spirit Publishing, 1999.
This book discusses all of the complex emotions that are involved in dealing with the death of a loved one. After discussing the emotions it discusses how to cope with the situation. The author answers questions about the topic in simple and honest ways. He describes the strong and complex feelings that someone may have and then goes on to talk about ways in which they can cope with their loss. This is an excellent book for children to use when they are experiencing a loss of their own.
Libby, Larry . Someday Heaven. New York: Zondervan, 2001.
Heaven is a topic that is extremely hard to explain to children. In this book Larry Libby uses simple, comforting words to explain the mysteries of Heaven to children. Heaven is a topic that creates questions in the minds of both young and old. This book is an excellent source to bring some understanding into the minds of both young and old.
Badger's Parting Gifts
Varley, Susan. Badger's Parting Gifts. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, 1984.
Badger knows he's going to die very soon, so he makes sure he gives his secrets away to all his old friends. When Bager dies his friends are sad but they treasure the memories he left them. The book shows the transformation that his friends went through. They transform their grief by seeing how Badger lives on in the parting gifts he left them. Through the memories they share about his gifts they are able to find strength for the future.
Sun and Spoon
Henkes, Kevin . Sun and Spoon. Penguin Books for Young Readers, 1998.
When ten year old Spoon's grandmother dies he tries to find artifacts to preserve his memories of her. Spoon is observing changes in his gradfather after his grandmothers death and wants to preserve his memories of his grandmother. This story is exceptionally written. Henkes hadels the topic with care while at the same time creating a story that will interest all children, even those who had not dealt with death. It give a lot of valuable advice for dealing with the death of a loved one.
Granddad's Prayer of the Earth
Wood, Douglas. Granddads Prayer of the Earth. Candlewick Press, 1999.
Illustrator: Patrick James Lynch
This is a very moving book about a young boy and his grandfather. The boy and his grandfather are vey close and go on many walks in the wood. One day, while on one of their walks the young boy asks his grandfather about prayers. The grandfather then explains prayers to his grandson. When the grandfather dies the boy uses what his grandfather told him about prayers to comfort him through the greiving process. The illustrations in this book beautifully brings this story to life.
Five Chinese Brothers
Bishop, Claire. Five Chinese Brothers. The Putman Publishing Group, 1989.
This is a floktale about five identical brothers, each with an unusual tallent. When one brother is sentenced to death for a crime that he did not commit, each brother uses their own specail talent to stand up for their brother, so that he can escape his punishment. After four tries, the judges decide the brother sentenced to death is not guilty and all five brothers live happily ever after with their mother for many years.
The Flute Player
Lacapa, Micheal. The Flute Player. Arizona: Northland Publishing, 1997.
The tale explains that the sound of wind echoing through the canyons comes from the flute of a young brave serenading his sweetheart. When the young man goes on his first hunt without telling her, she is sure she's been forgotten; she becomes
ill, and dies. Returning home, the boy learns of her death, and continues to play his flute at her grave.
Novel/ Chapter Books:
Bridge To Terabithia
Katherine Paterson . Bridge to Terabithia . Happer Collins Children's Books, 1987.
All summer long, Jess pushed himself to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade but when the first race comes he is beat by a newcomer, a girl. Then unexpectedly Jess finds himslef sticking up for this girl. Leslie and Jess's friendship grows over time. Leslie draws Jess into her magical world called Terabithia. There they rain until an unexpected tragedy forces Jess to reign alone. This is a story of friendship and courage that touches on my of life's lessons.
White, E.B.Charlotte’s Web . New York: Haper Collins Publishers, 1974.
This is a story of a little girl named Fern who loved a litle pig named Wilbur and Wilbur's dear friendCharoltte, a beutiful spider who lived in Wilbur's barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat, and wondering up a plan of their own, Charoltte saves the life of Wilbur. This books depicts life and death, the passage of time, and the wonders of nature with sensitivity and humor.
I Miss You: A First Look at Death
Thomas, Pat . I Miss You: A First Look at Death. New York: Barron’s Educational Series,
Incorporated, 2001. Illustrator: Lesley Harker
When a family member or close friend dies it can be very hard for a child. This books helps children explore their
feelings about the subject. This book helps children to understand personal feelings and social problems so that they can better deal with them. Written by a psychotherapist, these books promote positive interaction among children, parents, and teachers. What I liked about this book was it had simple text that was easy for young children to understand.
Talking with children of all ages about death
Annotated bibliography for children of all ages on the topic of death.
Dealing With Death and Dying
This teacher net page gives idea for dealing with death in health class.
Naierman, Naomi.Reaching out to grieving studnets. Educational Leadership. 55 (Oct. 1997): 62-5
Dakos, Kalli. Poetry feeds the
spirit. Instructor. 110.7 (April 2001): 33-6
December 13, 2002