Death is a natural part of life, but it's rarely ever easy to accept the loss of a loved one. Adults often struggle to make sense of death, so you can imagine how confusing it all must be for your young children. If you need to talk to your children about death, and are looking for a little support, you should check out some children's books that help kids understand death.
Whether it is a pet, a friend, or a parent, death is often a difficult concept for young children to grasp. They most likely will have questions about why death happens and what happens to the people and animals they love after they are gone. Reading a book can provide answers to some of your kids' toughest questions and provide an opening to talk with kids who may be having trouble expressing themselves. A good book can also provide kids with a sense of comfort, knowing that they are not alone in their feelings of sadness and grief.
If your family has recently experienced loss, try using one of these books to get a conversation started with your children. Allow them the time they need to process their grief, and don't hesitate to seek the help of a professional, if needed.
'I Miss You: A First Look At Death' by Pat Thomas
Written by a psychotherapist, I Miss You: A First Look At Death explains death to young children in gentle, basic terms that they can understand without subscribing to any particular religious belief. The book explains that death is a natural part of life and that grief is a normal feeling when a loved one is lost.
'Ladder To The Moon' by Maya Soetoro-Ng
Ladder To The Moon is a story about a young girl wants to connect with her late grandmother whom she has never met. When a ladder appears at the girl's bedroom window, she is able to take a magical journey with her grandmother. The author, who also happens to be President Obama's sister, was inspired by her own daughter's questions about her grandmother, who passed away before she was born.
'The Scar' by Charlotte Moundlic
When a little boy's mother dies in The Scar, he struggles through a variety of emotions. He feels sad for his father, angry with his mother for leaving him, and fear that he will forget her. But it is his grandmother who comforts him and lets him know that his mother will always have a place in his heart.
'No Matter What' by Debi Gliori
In No Matter What, a little fox questions his mom's love for him. She assures him that she will always love him, even when they are not together. Although the book is not entirely about death, it is a great way to assure young children that their family members love will continue even after they have passed away.
'Missing Mummy' by Rebecca Cobb
Missing Mummy is a moving story about a little boy who's mother has died. The story is told from the boy's perspective, and gives the reader a closer look at all of the emotions a child can experience after losing a parent.
'The Heart And The Bottle' by Oliver Jeffers
A young girl enjoys a special relationship with her grandfather, in The Heart And The Bottle. When she loses him, the girl decides to put her heart in a bottle as a way to deal with her grief. It isn't until she grows older and meets another young girl that she is able to release her heart from the bottle and feel the magic she once felt with her grandfather again.
'Muddles, Puddles And Sunshine' by Diana Crossley
Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine is an activity book designed to help children ages four and older deal with their feelings after losing a loved one. The activities range from arts and crafts to journaling and allow the child to make sense of the concept of death.
'Duck, Death And The Tulip' by Wolf Erlbruch
Duck, Death and the Tulip is a story about death and the afterlife. In the book, a duck makes friends with 'Death,' who has been following her. The two discuss death and the after life, until the duck accepts Death's presence in her life and eventually dies.
'Goodbye Mog' by Judith Kerr
The loss of a pet is often difficult for the youngest members of the family. Goodbye Mog tells the story of a cat who continues to watch over her family after passing away. She decides to help the family's new kitten settle in to her new home before flying off in the sun to rest.
'What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies' by Trevor Romain
Inspired by his feelings of sadness and confusion after the death of his father, Trevor Romain wrote What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies. In the book, Romain writes simply about what death means and offers young readers advice on how to cope with their grief.
'When Dinosaurs Die' by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
From the creator of the beloved Arthur series, When Dinosaurs Die offers a straightforward explanation for young readers about the meaning of death, funerals and other concepts dealing with loss. The answers to the questions are designed to spark conversations between children and their caregivers about feelings.
'Charlotte's Web' by E.B. White
Charlotte's Web is a classic children's story about the special relationship between a pig named Wilbur and a spider. The spider befriends the pig, and with the help of a young girl, saves Wilbur from being killed by a farmer. When Charlotte passes away, Wilbur's love for her is carried on in the offspring she leaves behind.
'God Gave Us Heaven' by Lisa T. Bergren
God Gave Us Heaven can give little readers who have questions about what happens to their loved ones after death a sense of comfort. In the book, a little cub's father describes Heaven as a beautiful, happy place where loved ones go after they have died.