Suggested Booklist
We have given some detail but please check first to see if they are suitable. Please also see a range of excellent resources at

Books for children under 5

  • Goodbye Mousie : Robie H. Harris & illustrated by Jan Ormerod, Aladdin Paperbacks; Reprint edition (Nov 2004) ISBN 978-0689871344 This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of a little boy who’s told that his pet mouse has died.
  • I Miss You: A First Look at Death : Pat Thomas & illustrated by Lesley Harker, 2001 Barron’s Educational Series, ISBN: 978-0764117640 This bright and colourful picture book very simply talks about life and death. It briefly covers a range of issues such as why people die, how you may feel when someone dies and what happens afterwards.
  • When Uncle Bob Died (Talking it Through) : Althea & illustrated by Lisa Kopper, 2001 Happy Cat Books Ltd, ISBN: 978-1903285084 A young boy talks about death and about Uncle Bob who died from an illness. It clearly explains some basic facts such as what ‘dead’ means and what a funeral is. It also talks about feelings and memories.
  • Dear Grandma Bunny :Written and Illustrated by Dick Bruna, 1996 ISBN: 978-1405219013 Suitable for very young children this book tells the story of what happened and how Miffy felt and coped when Grandma died.
  • Heaven: Nicholas Allan, 2006, Red Fox ISBN: 978-0099488149 Dill, the dog, knows his time is up, so he packs his case and tells Lily, his owner, that he’s off “up there”.
  • The Red Woolen Blanket : Bob Graham, Candlewick Press 1996 ISBN: 978-1564028488 Even before Julia was born she was given a red woolen blanket that she used “right from the start.” PW said, “Graham’s colourful paintings show a humorous, tender regard for a preschooler’s inexplicable attachment to a particular object.” Ages 2 to 4.

Books for age 5 to 8 years

  • A Birthday Present for Daniel: Juliet Rothman & illustrated by Louise Gish, 2001 A Child’s Story of Loss Prometheus Books, ISBN: 978-1573929462
  • Always and Forever : Alan Durant & illustrated by Debi Gliori, 2003 ISBN: 978-0552548779 Otter, Mole and Hare miss Fox when he falls ill and dies. They stay at home and don’t want to talk about him because it makes them sadder.
  • Badger’s Parting Gifts : Susan Varley 1992 Picture Lions, ISBN: 978-0006643173 Badger is old and knows he is going to die soon. When he does, the other animals think they will be sad forever, but they begin to talk about the memories they have of the things Badger taught them and learn to cope with his death. A lovely picture book that emphasises the importance of remembering the person who has died.
  • Drop Dead : Babette Cole, 1998 Red Fox, ISBN: 978-0099659112 A humorous book with comic-like pictures, two ‘bald old wrinklies’ tell their grandchildren about their life growing up and how one day they will just drop down dead. It is a light-hearted book about life that emphasises the normality and inevitability of dying. It is very direct and some readers may not like its style.
  • Flamingo Dream :Donna Jo Napoli & illustrated by Cathie Felstead, 2003 Greenwillow Books, ISBN: 978-0688167967 In this bright and colourful book, a young boy tells the story of his Dad who is seriously ill and dies soon after a trip to Florida to see the place where he grew up. The collage style illustrations capture the things the boy collects to remind him of his Dad. A sensitive but honest book which emphasises the importance of memories.
  • Fred : Posy Simmonds, 1998 Red Fox, ISBN: 978-0099264125 A light-hearted book with detailed illustrations about Fred, Nick and Sophie’s lazy cat that dies. After burying him in the garden, they wake up at night to find all the cats in the area have come to say goodbye to Fred, the famous singer! This funny and touching story would be useful to introduce death to children.
  • Granpa – The Book of the Film Based on the story by John Burningham, 1991 Ladybird Books Ltd, ISBN: 978-0721414768 This beautifully detailed picture book has very few words but tells the story of a little girl’s relationship with her Granpa. Children may benefit from reading this book with an adult to talk about the pictures and to elaborate some of the messages it conveys.
  • Saying Goodbye: A Special Farewell to Mama Nkwelle: Ifeoma Onyefulu, 2002 Frances Lincoln, ISBN: 978-0711217010 This book has large bright colourful photos and follows a little boy, Ikenna describing what happens at the ceremony after his great-grandmother’s funeral. It gives ideas of different ways to remember someone and an insight into Nigerian culture. A lovely book that could be used in many different situations, including schools.
  • The Sunshine Cat : Miriam Moss, Illustrated by Lisa Flather ISBN: 978-1841215679 Orchard Picturebooks .Sunny the cat is loved by all his human family, but one day there is a knock at the door – Sunny has been killed in an accident. A sensitive story which aims to help children come to terms with death.
  • The Huge Bag of Worries : Virginia Ironside & illustrated by Frank Rodgers, 1996 Hodder Wayland, ISBN: 978-0340903179 Jenny begins to worry about lots of different things and these worries build up and get out of control. She just can’t get rid of them, until she meets the old lady next door who helps her feel better. A lovely story with fun illustrations encourages children to talk about their worries.
  • Saying Goodbye to Daddy : Judith Vigna, 1991 Albert Whitman & Company, ISBN: 978-0807572535 Clare’s Dad died in a car accident and this book looks at changes in the family, difficult feelings, funerals and memories through the eyes of Clare. It would also be a good book to help parents understand the child’s perspective. It gives good examples of how adults can answer children’s questions, emphasising the need to be clear and honest.
  • The Tenth Good Thing About Barney: Judith Viorst & illustrated by Erik Blegvad, 1987 Prentice Hall & IBD, ISBN: 978-0689712036 A young boy’s cat dies and his parents suggest that he could think of ten good things about Barney to tell at the funeral. But he can only think of nine, until he talks to his Father about what happens to someone after they have died, and he discovers the tenth. A carefully written book with black and white pictures, that sensitively deals with death and lets the reader make his or her own decisions about what happens after the funeral.
  • When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death : Laurie Krasny & illustrated by Marc Brown, 1998 Time Warner Trade Publishing ISBN: 978-0316119559 This factual picture book uses cartoon dinosaurs to illustrate the text and comment on what is said. It is a bright and colourful book that explains death in a simple and unthreatening way. It covers many issues including ‘why does someone die?’, ‘feelings about death’ and ‘saying goodbye’. It would be an excellent resource for anyone caring for young children.
  • Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears : Emily Gravitt Macmillan Children’s Books; 1 edition (4 July 2008) ISBN-10: 0230016197 ISBN-13: 978-0230016194 Young children will identify with the little mouse who uses the pages of this book to document his fears – from loud noises and the dark, to being sucked down the plughole. Packed with details and novelty elements including flaps, die-cuts and even a hilarious fold-out map, this is an extraordinary picture book. Winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal 2008

Books for age 9 –12 years

  • Beginnings and Endings with Lifetimes in Between: By Bryan Mellonie & Robert Ingpen, 1997 Belitha Press, ISBN: 978-1855617605 This thought provoking book has large pictures complemented with small sections of text. It clearly explains about life and death focussing on plants, animals and insects before moving on to people. It emphasises that death is part of the life cycle and is natural and normal whenever it occurs. A simple book with a powerful message.
  • Death: What’s Happening?: Karen Bryant–Mole, 1994 Hodder Wayland, ISBN: 978-0750213790 This factual book has clear text and large photos. It uses stories of young people to discuss issues surrounding death such as feeling frightened, the funeral and the future. It includes advice on how to feel better and cope with difficult situations after someone has died. Using straightforward language, this book may reassure the reader there are other young people who have had someone important to them die and answer some of their questions and concerns.
  • The Cat Mummy: Jacqueline Wilson & illustrated by Nick Sharratt, 2002 Corgi Childrens, ISBN: 978-0440864165 (also on audiocassette) Verity’s Mum died the day she was born but she rarely talks about her. Verity doesn’t want to upset her Dad or Grandparents. This humorous but sensitive story mainly focuses on Verity’s missing cat Mabel but reveals some of the misunderstandings and anxieties children can have about death. It also shows it can be good to be open, honest and to talk about difficult issues.
  • The Ghost of Uncle Arvie: Sharon Creech, 1997 Macmillan Children’s Books, ISBN: 978-0333656327 This fun and humorous book is about Danny, an ordinary nine-year-old boy. However, once or twice a year a ghost visits him. This time it is the ghost of his Uncle Arvie who follows him, persuading him to make his three wishes come true. As a result Danny and his dog get into adventures which make him think about his dad who has also died. This book has some important messages and talks about death in an open way, but is primarily fun and imaginative.
  • The Mountains of Tibet : Mordicai Gerstein, 1989 Barefoot Paperbacks, ISBN: 978-1898000549 Based on Tibetan teachings, this book tells of a small boy who grows up to be a woodcutter. When he dies, he discovers there is a chance to live again but first he must make a number of choices. A simple tale with deep meaning but the theme of reincarnation could be confusing.
  • Losing Uncle Tim: Mary Kate Jordan & illustrated by Judith Friedman, 1999 Albert Whitman & Company, ISBN: 978-0807547564 This picture book for slightly older children explains how a young boy finds out his Uncle Tim has AIDS and is going to die. It is a serious and sensitive book covering many of the issues, changes and difficult feelings that can occur when someone has a serious illness.
  • Michael Rosen’s SAD BOOK : Michael Rosen & illustrated by Quentin Blake, 2004 Walker Books, ISBN: 978-1406313161 This book has large illustrations and small snippets of text. It is wonderfully honest and will appeal to children and adults of all ages. We all have sad stuff, but what makes Michael Rosen most sad is thinking about his son who died. This book is a simple but emotive story. He talks about what sad is and how it affects him and what he does to cope with it. In true Michael Rosen style, this book manages to make you smile as well.
  • Milly’s Bug Nut : Jill Janey, 2002 Winston’s Wish, ISBN: 978-0-9539123-4-6 A short, simple story with black and white pictures, of a young girl who’s Dad has died. It talks about the ups and downs of family life and how things slowly get easier as time goes. Milly misses her Dad and things are just not the same anymore. She knows when people die, they can’t come back but she still keeps a wish to see her Dad one more time.
  • Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears : Emily Gravitt Macmillan Children’s Books; 1 edition (4 July 2008) ISBN-10: 0230016197 ISBN-13: 978-0230016194 Young children will identify with the little mouse who uses the pages of this book to document his fears – from loud noises and the dark, to being sucked down the plughole. Packed with details and novelty elements including flaps, die-cuts and even a hilarious fold-out map, this is an extraordinary picture book. Winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal 2008
  • The Best Day of the Week :Hannah Cole & illustrated by John Prater, 1997 Walker Books, ISBN: 978-0744554670 This storybook tells of two young children who spend Saturdays with their Grandparents when Mum is at work. It has three chapters, with stories of three different Saturdays. The first is a happy day; the second is at the hospital and sad as Granny dies, the third at the theatre. It is a lovely story that gives an important message that it is still okay to have fun after someone dies.
  • Water Bugs and Dragonflies:Doris Stickney & illustrated by Gloria Stickney, 1983 Explaining death to children Geoffrey Chapman; New Ed edition 1997 ISBN: 978-0264674414 This pocket size booklet with small black and white pictures is based on a fable, associating death with a water bug’s transformation into a dragonfly. It portrays the mystery around death but may need an adult to explain the analogy and help a child relate it to their own experience. It uses Christian beliefs with a focus on life after death and also contains advice for parents.
  • What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies? By Trevor Romain, 2003 Free Spirit Publishing Inc, ISBN: 978-1575420554 This book for older children is a factual guide, answering questions such as ‘why do people have to die?’, ‘is it okay to cry?’ and ‘what is a funeral/memorial service?’ It is written in a straightforward way, with practical tips, advice and information about different faiths and beliefs.
  • Someone has died suddenly:  Amy and Tom Project : Brake Road safety Charity:  Sudden death is devastating for children and their families. There is no time to prepare or say goodbye. In many cases the death is violent and horrific; such as when someone dies in a road crash, or commits suicide. In many cases the person who dies is a parent, brother or sister, leaving behind a bereft family. The Amy & Tom project is a charitable initiative by Brake, helping suddenly bereaved children of all ages through their terrible shock and grief and helping them to recover and lead full and happy lives.
  • The Thing with Finn : Tom Kelly: macmillan Children’s books ; ISBN-10: 0330444557 ISBN-13: 978-0330444552 Ten-year-old Danny knows he’s going somewhere, but he just doesn’t know where. On his way he . . . . . . flattens a stuffed otter (with a three-holed brick) . . . messes with a dog called The Beast (who bites kids’ willies off) and feeds biscuits to blue Louis (who puts the ‘poo’ into poodle). But however far or fast he goes, Danny can’t outrun the memories that have chased him ever since his identical twin brother died. Where can Danny hide when every day his own face reminds him of Finn? And where can Danny go when everywhere the shadows of his past stretch to forever? The poignant story of a bereaved boy who embarks on an emotional journey – and ultimately finds his way home.

Book for Professionals Supporting Children 

  • Supporting Children through Grief and Loss: practical ideas andcreative activities for schools and carers :Anna Jacobs Hinton House Publishers; 1st edition (1 Feb 2013) ISBN-10: 1906531536 :  A wealth of advice and helpful suggestions for those helping children through bereavement and loss. Children who experience loss through death or separation need support and understanding, both at home and at school. We often struggle to know what to say and how to provide this support. Staff in schools need to understand what to say and what to do, what might help and even what might not, and how to work with families. This book gives an overview of different behaviours you may encounter in school and how to respond, as well as discussing questions children may ask and how to answer them. Children’s understanding of death varies according to stage of development and the author provides guidance on age-appropriate, honest responses along with a toolkit of creative and arts activities to help children examine and understand their emotions, physical feelings and memories.
  • Grief Encounter Workbook :Shelley Gilbert Grief Encounter Project; 3rd edition (10 Jun 2004) ISBN-10: 0954843401 – A workbook to encourage conversations with children, young people and adults about death.
  • When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief (Drawing Out Feelings) Marge Eaton Heegaard Woodland Press; Reissue edition (1 Jan 1991) ISBN-10: 0962050202 ISBN-13: 978-0962050206 – A workbook to help children work out feelings about death. Heegaard provides a practical format for allowing children to understand the concept of death and develop coping skills for life. Children, with the supervision of an adult, are invited to illustrate and personalise their loss through art. When Someone Very Special Dies encourages the child to identify support systems and personal strengths.


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