Death

Everett Anderson's Good-bye; Lucille Clifton; 1983; ages 3 to 6; fiction. A preschooler tries to come to terms with his father's death. Very few words, black-and-white drawings; articulates the five stages of grief. One in a series about an African-American toddler.

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs; Tomie De Paola; 1973; ages 4 to 10; fiction. A quiet and loving story about the death of a grandmother. Addresses what it means to be young, old, very old, and finally to die.

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to a Child; Bryon Mellonie and Robert Ingpen; 1986; ages 4 to 10; nonfiction. Using photos of butterflies, apples, rabbits, and people, the authors explain death as part of the natural lifetime of all living things.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney; Judith Viorst; 1971; ages 4 to 8; fiction. What do you do when your cat dies? You cry, have a funeral, and think of the 10 best things about him. Viorst's classic, this is probably the best known young children's book about death. Moving videotape with same title.

Badger's Parting Gifts; Susan Varley; 1984; ages 4 to 8; fiction. Wise old Badger knows he must soon be "going down the long tunnel" and hopes that his friends will not be too sad. Pooh-like illustrations and gentle writing make this an uplifting story.

A Birthday Present for Daniel; Juliet Rothman; 1995; ages 5 to 10; fiction. Mom, Dad, and two school-age girls remember their older brother by launching balloons on his birthday.

I'll Always Love You; Hans Wilheim; 1985; ages 6 to 10; fiction. A little boy and his dog grow up together, but Elfie grows faster and soon becomes old. A good discussion starter for young children who lose a beloved pet.

Saying Goodbye to Daddy; Judith Vigna; ages 6 to 9; 1991; fiction. Lovely story of a child who is trying to understand why her father was killed in a car accident.

Good-bye Papa; Una Leavy; 1996; ages 5 to 10; fiction. Elegant prose and extraordinary illustrations convey feelings of love, life, and the power of beautiful memories.

Saying Good-bye to Grandma; Jane Resh Thomas; 1988; ages 8 to 12; fiction. Text and watercolor illustrations tell a child's point of view of the week her grandmother dies. Describes the wake, the funeral, and going home again. Helpful preparation for an impending real situation.

Dusty Was My Friend: Coming To Terms With Loss; Andrea Fleck Clardy; 1984; ages 8 to 12; fiction. An 8-year old boy comes to terms with the death of his friend. The story gracefully addresses the universal questions: Why Dusty? Whose fault is it? Will it happen to me?

Bridge to Terabithia; Katherine Patterson; 1977; ages 10 to 14; fiction; Newbury Award. The times Jess and Leslie shared in their fantasy kingdom of Terabithia enable Jess to cope with Leslie's unexpected death. Although it always is included as a book about death, this extraordinary novel is a celebration of life.

There Are Two Kinds of Terrible; Peggy Mann; 1977; ages 12 to adult; fiction. Fifteen-year-old Rob finds out what the worst kind of terrible is when his mother dies of cancer and leaves him with his "cold fish" father. A moving story that has a hopeful ending.

Tiger Eyes; Judy Blume; 1981; ages 14 to adult; fiction; violent death of father. Fifteen-year-old Davey learns to give up her anger and fear after her father is shot during a robbery. Confronts a variety of ideas about natural and violent death, war, and the atomic bomb.

A Kid's Book About Death and Dying By and For Kids; Eric Rofes and the Unit at Fayerweather St. School; 1985; ages 12 to adult; nonfiction. Understandings, attitudes, and experiences of kids dealing with death. Includes a definition of death and discussions about euthanasia, funerals, causes of death, and violent death.

Talking About Death: A Dialogue Between Parents and Children; Earl Grollman; 1991; adults and children; nonfiction. A good source book to help parents help their children through loss. Lists of resources and a bibliography.

The Grieving Child: A Parent's Guide; Helen Fitzgerald; 1992; adults; nonfiction. In an easy-to-read format, the psychologist-author gives advice to help children in the face of death.

Adapted from: Ellen C. Perrin, MD Susan Starr, MEd Addressing Common Pediatric Concerns Through Children's Books. Pediatrics in Review. 2000;21:130-138. © 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics

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