It’s Dying Matters Week and the official theme for Monday is “teaching death in schools.” We thought we’d round up some of the very best children and young adult books covering death, dying and bereavement.
When a child or teenager deals with a death of a friend or family member, it can be a very confusing time. But there are hundreds of reassuring books out there that can help process complicated feelings and help children and young adults come to terms with and talk about death.
Even if they haven’t yet experienced the death of a loved one, it’s always good to encourage young people to keep an open mind when it comes to death and all the emotions it comes with.
Here are some of the top books to help children and teenagers deal with death and to learn the importance of keeping memories alive…
Goodbye Mog: A family’s cat dies of old age...but she keeps an eye on the grieving family. The family get a new kitten who is, well, a scaredy cat! Mog helps the kitten bond with the family from beyond the grave and, once her work is done, she flies into the sky. The little girl in the family says even though they have a new kitten, they will always remember Mog.
I Miss You: This picture book mixes a poignant story with factual resources for parents. It answers some of the questions a child might have about death and encourages them to be a part of the grieving process.
Always and Forever: A family of different animals are very sad because Fox has died. But Squirrel reminds everyone about how funny Fox was and everyone realises Fox lives on...forever in their memories!
Sad Book: Inspired by Michael Rosen’s grief over losing his son to meningitis, this book lets children know that it’s OK to be sad sometimes. The book deals with death in a realistic, yet beautiful way.
The Great Blue Yonder: Tongue-in-cheek, touching and relatable, this is the story of how death isn’t just for old people. A boy called Harry is involved in a fatal accident with a truck and the book follows his adventures in the after life. The story is about saying goodbye and being at peace with death.
Vicky Angel: A girl comes to terms with the death of her best friend, who died in a car accident. It’s a well-written story about bereavement, memories and how to move on from death.
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece: A boy’s journey through life after the loss of his sister, who died in a terrorist attack. Not only does the book deal with younger death, it deals with how a child copes with his grieving parents and tries to piece his family back together.
Chill & Spill: More of a journal than a traditional self-help book, Chill & Spill is an interactive grief diary for teens. It focuses more on the reader’s grief journey rather than the person who died, and it can also be used for other traumatic events such as self harm, anger management, PTSD, anxiety, low self-esteem and much more. The journal is perfect for creative teenagers and can really help process raw emotions.
The Fault in our Stars: One of the most popular young adult fiction books on death and dying, The Fault in Our Stars directly addresses terminal illness, making the most of life and the inevitability of death.
Alone at Ninety Foot: This wonderfully written story involves a teenager girl trying to make sense of her mother’s suicide. It’s a realistic account of battling through life’s obstacles and finding solace after sadness.
For more information on how to talk to a child about death, check out Barnado’s child bereavement booklet.