Comprehensive list of books recommended by the Association of Child Life Professionals, including resources in Spanish.
Ida Always - A beautiful, honest portrait of loss and deep friendship told through the story of two iconic polar bears. Written by Caron Levis and Illustrated by Charles Santoso
The Sour Cherry Tree - By Nasseem Hrab illustrated by Nahid Kazemi The Sour Cherry Tree is an authentic look at death and loss centred on the experiences of a child, both strikingly whimsical and matter-of-fact. Drawing on the Iranian-Canadian author’s childhood memories, this tender meditation on grief, love, and memory is at once culturally specific and universally relatable.
My Elephant is Blue by Melinda Szymanik, Vasanti Unka (Illustrator) is a soft, endearing story written about a small child coping with the sudden onset of heavy feelings. Written as allegory, the child rises one morning with large, heavy blue elephant on their chest. Through interactions with their family, the child tries several strategies to move the elephant off of their body, with little success. The simple sentences allow room for conversation about what the child must feel like, how the family is supportive, how everyone is affected by the presence of the elephant, and strategies they found together to help the situation.
Everett Anderson's Goodbye - written by Lucille Clifton for elementary age children journeys with a young boy and his mother as he grieves his father's death. Everett Anderson's Goodbye is the winner of the 1984 Coretta Scott King Author Award.
Grandpa’s Window , written by Laura Gehl
and illustrated by Udayana Lugo is a book that gently unfolds. We meet Daria who is helping to take care of her grandfather. We learn how they have spent time on the beach together throughout Daria’s childhood, and hear as Daria plans for them to fly kites, look for rainbows, and build sandcastles together again. As the book progresses, we see how Grandpa becomes weaker and how it affects Daria and her parents. Grandpa’s Window addresses the grieving process, both as a family member approaches the end of life as well as after death.
Where Do They Go? - With tangible examples and lots of questions this book explores life beyond death without one line answers. Written by Julia Alvarez and illustrated by Sabra Field
Grandmother's Visit by Betty Quan illustrated by Carmen Mok
A simple beautiful telling of a girl's relationship with her Grandmother before and after the grandmother dies. The book emphasizes Chinese traditions but is accessible to all cultures.
Swallowed By a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing - by Thomas R. Golden for high school youth or grieving parents, explores the variety of ways people grieve.
The Memory Box: A Book About Grief by Joanna Rowland. From the perspective of a young child, Joanna Rowland artfully describes what it is like to remember and grieve a loved one who has died. The child in the story creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one, to help in the grieving process. The unique point of view allows the reader to imagine the loss of any they have loved - a friend, family member, or even a pet. A parent guide in the back includes information from a Christian perspective on helping children manage the complex and difficult emotions they feel when they lose someone they love, as well as suggestions on how to create their own memory box.
Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler's Guide to Understanding Death - a useful tool for parents, caregivers, therapists, and teachers to help young children understand the concept of death and begin the process of coping with the loss. Intended for children ages 2 and 3, the book explains death and loss to a very young child in a simple and age-appropriate way. Includes a "Reader's Note" and "Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Therapists" written by the author, Bonnie Zucker and illustrated by Kim Fleming.
The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief by United Methodist Pastor Jan Richardson, best for High School youth or grieving parents. "A blessing meets us in the place of our deepest loss. In that place, it gives us a glimpse of wholeness and claims that wholeness here and now. "—from the Introduction
The Grieving Teen - by Helen Fitzgerald goes through practical aspects of helping teens who have lost a loved one.
The Grieving Child - by Helen Fitzgerald goes through the details of all the practical things to think about when raising a child who has had a loved one die.
Carrying Them with Us: Living through Pregnancy or Infant Loss by Luther Seminary Grant and Project Manager Catherine Malotky, co-authored with David M. Engelstad, offers a reflection on what these two authors experienced after the death of their eight-week-old daughter.
Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief - by Martha Whitmore Hickman is best for High School youth or grieving parents.
Helping Children Cope with Traumatic Events was developed in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This booklet provides practical guidance for caregivers—including parents, family members, teachers, clergy, and volunteers—on how to help support children after a traumatic event.
This booklet provides readers with an overview of common reactions to violent acts, including a breakdown of common signs and symptoms by age. Concrete steps for caring for children’s emotional and spiritual needs in the wake of a traumatic event are also provided.
Talking to Children about Death - Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) legacy lives on in these resources for children. In particular, here are some helpful tools to talk to kids about death.
Care in the Classroom for Grieving Children - An NPR story that brings to light the need for care for children with grief. Could be helpful for the church as well.
Centering is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing education and resources for the bereaved. Centering was founded in 1977 by Joy and Dr. Marvin Johnson. Centering started with nine little coloring books for hospitalized children and two workshop offerings for nurses and families. In response to the need for support by families and caregivers while facing their grief experience we developed many new resources. Today we have over 500 grief resources for children and adults. Centering continues to provide educational resources and bookstore for caregivers and families.
Dealing with Death, Grief and Bereavement - From denial to acceptance, there are seven stages in the grieving process, although it’s important to remember that everyone will grieve in their own unique way. Some might go through the stages out of order, while others might spend more time in one stage and less in another. People could experience multiple stages at the same time. There is no single road map to acceptance, but the seven stages of grief offer a valuable outline of what a person can expect to feel when experiencing a loss.
Minimizing After a Death - excellent short blog about God present in grief and through "cleaning out" loved one's belongings.
This At the Time of Death Milestone Moment helps those gathered with the dying person to bring closure to relationships in a way that fosters reconciliation of any unfinished issues and the celebration of live and love.
The dying of a loved one is a tender moment filled with meaning. It provides an opportunity for family and friends to express love for the dying person, confidence in the Christian faith, and hope in God’s eternity. It is important during this time to provide the assurance of God’s love and the love of others to create a sense of calm and peace for the person’s final moments.
This Milestone Moment includes a Four Key Faith Practices outline which encourages growing in our faith by recognizing the home and family gatherings as church, too. A simple five-step structure is also included to establish a solid base for faith formation and development.
Resiliancy: Setting Free the Lament - from ELCA Pastor Brenda Smith and ELCA Coaching