Children’s Books About Death

Okay, I admit. This is kind of a weighty thing to throw out there. But as I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on a book for kids who won’t have a chance to personally know an integral family member who’s died. It’s an issue that, sadly, will affect a lot of kids (my daughter included). Yet children’s books about death don’t address this emotionally charged issue for a large percentage of our young population.

Sure, there are a decent amount of children’s books about death and mourning, but nearly all of those help a child cope with missing a person they knew and loved.

I’ve only found one kids’ book about a child growing up wanting to learn more about a deceased loved one. It’s a book published just last year by President Barak Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng.

Ladder to the Moon tells the story of a young girl who meets her deceased grandmother in a dream. It’s a very sweet tale and has a quality I enjoy in a good song, book, or movie (but that I’ve rarely found in kids’ books). That is, its creative shell (the words) holds a mysterious interior (the meaning) that somehow adjusts to fit the unique needs of the reader.

Granted, the bookseller who recommended it to me pointed out that a children’s book with such a personal and challenging concept probably would’ve been rejected if the writer hadn’t been the President’s sister. But no matter how or why it was chosen, I’m just glad that it’s out there. I hope it will open the market to other ways to talk to children about memories, loss, and legacy.

If you can recommend any other children’s book that address the death of a loved one (that a child never knew), please share it here or send me an e-mail. I’m eager for suggestions.

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2 thoughts on “Children’s Books About Death

  1. I love “Ladder to the Moon,” too. It’s the only book of its kind I know (and I’m a children’s book buyer for an indie bookstore). This kind of book (yours included) is so important; I think of them as a kind of “Motherless Daughters” for kids– books that help us learn from grief and understand our emotional needs through life after loss. The granddaughter is raised in the shadow of grief, but the connection to her grandmother is so uplifting.
    “Tear Soup” is another book that I am so glad an editor took a chance on. I think of all the souls that book has comforted!
    I also love Seattle author Anne Fontaine’s “Ocho Loved Flowers”–it’s about a little girl realizing that her cat is going to die, being there through his death, then remembering him. Hospice workers point out that it’s one of the few books to deal with anticipatory grief. It also does such a nice job of touching on healing rituals of remembrance.

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