Even though we understand death as adults, it is often difficult for us to process the loss. This leads to an internalisation of our anger and grief. Children, on the other hand, have little to no understanding of death, what loss entails, and its significance in their lives. Although grief and death may be too morbid a subject for innocent ears, understanding all of this will only help children in the long run. Along the way, they will also learn the importance of relationships, love and memories.

Here are 7 such books for children that deal with grief and death and can help them through difficult times.

Note: This list is aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 8.


The Invisible String

Patrice Karst, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (Illus.)

A comforting story about two siblings, The Invisible String teaches us how we are all connected to one another through an ‘invisible string’, a link that is not seen but only felt with the heart. As children, we understand and process grief and separation differently. Through this book, children will learn that even though people may leave or become estranged, the ‘invisible string’ will always keep them tethered to the ones they love, and will always remain in their hearts.

Buy it here.


When Dinosaurs Die

Laurie Krasny Brown, Marc Brown (Illus.)

Death is a baffling concept, especially for children, and they often find it difficult to understand what it means. The dinosaurs from When Dinosaurs Die are here to help by answering children’s questions about death and loss. Instead of associating death with negativity, these helpful dinosaurs provide comfort, answer questions on the subject, explore how everyone feels about death, and discuss the best ways to remember someone after they have passed on. This book is especially useful for children who are trying to make sense of death.

Buy it here.


Duck, Death And The Tulip

Wolf Erlbruch

One day, a duck sees someone following it – Death, to be precise. Horrified at first, the duck eventually grows accustomed to its presence, and they settle into an unusual companionship. They discuss death, afterlife and existence, until one day, the duck dies due to the cold. Death, a bit saddened by the duck’s departure, understands that it is a part of life, and strokes the duck’s feathers tenderly. With hauntingly beautiful and simple illustrations to accompany an evocative story, this book is useful as it lets children know that life must still go on, even through the death of a loved one.

Buy it here.


Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

Michael Rosen, Quentin Blake (Illus.)

The loss of his 19-year-old son sent Michael Rosen, the author, into a deep shock. The product of the devastation was this gorgeously illustrated book which teaches us an important lesson – sadness is not always avoidable. The book lets us know that it is okay to be sad, and to let out our feelings of anger and grief. Powerful and comforting, this book is perfect for anyone wishing to get through their grief, be it an adult or a child.

Buy it here.


I Miss You: A First Look At Death

Pat Thomas

Children often find it difficult to understand what happens when someone close to them dies. They are also unaware on how to process grief. It is important to teach children that, despite its finality, death is a natural part of life. It is also important that they learn that grieving and feeling sad is normal in such cases, and that these feelings should never be buried. This book by psychotherapist Pat Thomas teaches children, through a step-by-step process, on how to deal with death, funerals, saying goodbye, and missing someone.

Buy it here.


Nana Upstairs And Nana Downstairs

Tomie dePaola (Author & Illus.)

Four-year-old Tommy loves visiting his grandmother and great-grandmother and shares a close relationship with both of them. One day, his great-grandmother dies, and he must say goodbye. A star in the sky, though, comforts him, and he believes it to be his great-grandmother sending him a kiss. Beautiful, simple and powerful, this book should be read to every child in order to help them grieve their loss properly.

Buy it here.


Gentle Willow: A Story For Children About Dying

Joyce C. Mills, Cary Pillo (Illus.)

Children often have a hard time understanding why their relatives or friends sometimes don’t get better. They may even find it difficult to understand their own illnesses. Gentle Willow is the story of a tree named Willow and her friends. Her friends try to understand and help Willow when they learn that she is dying. Willow is afraid, but her friends comfort her by telling her the story of the metamorphosis of butterflies. This is an essential book for children to understand terminal illness and will help them get through difficult times.

Buy it here.

Prasanna is a human (probably) who makes stuff up for a living. When she’s not sleeping or eating, you’ll find her in the quietest corner of the library, devouring yet another hardbound book. She vastly prefers the imaginary world to the real one, but grudgingly emerges from her writing cave on occasion. If you do see her, it’s best not to approach her before she’s had her coffee.

She writes at The Curious Reader. You can read her articles here