When my husband soared to heaven nine years ago, my daughters were ages 2, 5, and 8. I was a young widow and a suddenly single mama, trying to grieve and make space for my daughters to grieve. One of the most natural ways to help them process their grief was through reading and discussing books. At the time, I found it difficult to find books that applied to our situation.
ne of the books we read together early on was Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn. I was desperate for language to share with my girls about heaven and their dad’s death. Even though some of that devotional-style book was more advanced than my little ones, I was grateful for the conversations. Over the last decade, more kids picture books on grief have been published.
Below is a list of books you might consider sharing with the little ones in your life who might be facing grief in this season.
My Journey with the Wind: A Magical Story of Grief
Grief can be painful and difficult to predict or understand. This is the story of one child’s magical journey to the realization that their special bond, which seemed lost when their brother died, is actually still present in the love and memories that they shared.
Children are often overlooked when siblings die as the adults in their lives are busy navigating their own grief journeys. Others just aren’t sure how to support children in grief. This book will help children and their caregivers have a common language to talk about and express the various feelings of grief together through holistic therapeutic activities.
Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss
If you are going to buy only one book on grief, this is the one to get! It will validate your grief experience, and you can share it with your children. You can leave it on the coffee table so others will pick it up, read it, and then better appreciate your grieving time. Grand’s Cooking Tips section at the back of the book is rich with wisdom and concrete recommendations. Better than a casserole!
The Memory Box: A Book About Grief
From the perspective of a young child, author Joanna Rowland artfully describes what it’s like to remember and grieve a loved one who has died. The child in the story wonders if she will forget the person who has gone. Other days I wonder if I’ll ever stop feeling sad you are gone.
The Invisible String
Parents, educators, therapists, and social workers alike have declared The Invisible String the perfect tool for coping with all kinds of separation anxiety, loss, and grief. In this relatable and reassuring contemporary classic, a mother tells her two children that they’re all connected by an invisible string. “That’s impossible!” the children insist, but still they want to know more: “What kind of string?” The answer is the simple truth that binds us all: An Invisible String made of love. Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart, and know that you are always connected to the ones you love. Does everybody have an Invisible String? How far does it reach? Does it ever go away? This heartwarming picture book for all ages explores questions about the intangible yet unbreakable connections between us, and opens up deeper conversations about love.
The Goodbye Book
Through the lens of a pet fish who has lost his companion, Todd Parr tells a moving and wholly accessible story about saying goodbye. Touching upon the host of emotions children experience, Todd reminds readers that it’s okay not to know all the answers, and that someone will always be there to support them. An invaluable resource for life’s toughest moments.
After Old Turtle swims his last swim and breathes his last breath, and the waves gently take him away, his friends lovingly remember how he impacted each and every one of them. As the sea animals think back on how much better Old Turtle made their lives and their world, they realize that he is not truly gone, because his memory and legacy will last forever.
Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories
Chester Raccoon’s good friend Skiddel Squirrel has had an accident and will not be returning – ever. Chester is upset that he won’t get to play with his friend anymore. Mrs. Raccoon suggests that Chester and his friends create some memories of Skiddel, so that they will have good memories when they miss him. Chester, his brother Ronny, and their friends decide to gather at the pond, where they combine their memories and create a touching celebration of their friend’s life.
Many young children must face the loss of loved ones or the need to attend a funeral. This sweet story will help children to understand the positive purpose behind memorial services and how “making memories” can provide cheer and comfort when missing an absent loved one.
The Dragonfly Door
Talking about death with children? Help children identify the beauty and hope in all cycles of life as they follow two insects, Lea and Nym, and the struggles Nym endures when her friend disappears. This is a tender story about loss and change, written to help parents express their views about life and death. Children may identify with Nym, who grieves the loss of her friend, and find it easier to express their unique feelings about a loss after hearing the story. The Dragonfly Door may serve many purposes, such as comforting a grieving child or providing facts about dragonflies.
Gus lives in a big park in the middle of an even bigger city, and he spends his days with Ida. Ida is right there. Always.
Then one sad day, Gus learns that Ida is very sick, and she isn’t going to get better. The friends help each other face the difficult news with whispers, sniffles, cuddles, and even laughs. Slowly Gus realizes that even after Ida is gone, she will still be with him—through the sounds of their city, and the memories that live in their favorite spots.
Ida, Always is an exquisitely told story of two best friends—inspired by a real bear friendship—and a gentle, moving, needed reminder that loved ones lost will stay in our hearts, always.
God Gave Us Heaven
As the sun rises on her snow-covered world, Little Cub wonders aloud…
“What is heaven like?”
With tender words, her Papa describes a wonderful place, free of sadness and tears, where God warmly welcomes his loved ones after their life on earth is over. Little Cub and Papa spend the day wandering their beautiful, invigorating arctic world while she asks all about God’s home: How do we get to heaven? Will we eat there?Will I get to see you in heaven? Papa patiently answers each question, assuring her that…
“Heaven will be full of everything good.”
This gentle story provides satisfying answers for a young child’s most difficult questions about what happens after this life, inviting “little cubs” to find comfort in knowing that God Gave Us Heaven.
What Happens When We Die?
The thought of dying can make any child sad and scared. Will it hurt? Does God want me to die? Where is heaven? Will Mom and Dad be there? How do I get there if I’m buried in the ground? In this simple yet profound book, your children will see for themselves the reasons people die…and what God has in store for them in heaven.
Chasing God’s Glory
When Zayla asks her mom to describe God’s glory, Mama knows it’s time for an adventure! Together, Mama and Zayla discover how sunrises and dancing, daffodils and green peppers, kind words and loving hugs—and more!—are all reminders of God’s glory.
Award-winning author Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young’s rich multicultural story and Alyssa De Asis’s vibrant artwork make Chasing God’s Glory a unique invitation to notice and celebrate the radiance of God’s light and love as you and your family become “glory chasers.”
Stay tuned for more lists coming soon!
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