Monday, April 22, 2013

My Favorite Children's Books About Death

Several people have asked me lately about books I would recommend for children who are asking questions about, I thought it may be useful to list my top picks here

When Dinosaurs Die is a good intro to the whole topic--approachable and tailorable as a "read aloud" for discussion of specifics that may apply to a particular family or situation.  The illustrator has several other familiar books (he's the author and illustrator of the Arthur series) which makes this book feel familiar and approachable.

I have other recommendations for kids who are dealing with losing someone in the immediate family--ones that are less nuts and bolts (altho' both are necessary) and deal more with the abstract "feeling" stuff 

Butterflies Under Our Hats by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, is a favorite of mine to gift folks who have lost an immediate family member or friend.  In the book a mysterious woman arrives and brings hope to a town that had no "luck".   When she (and the butterflies she has brought) leaves they fear that they have lost hope, but then it's realized that even without her presence, hope remains.  

The Purple Balloon  is a good one for kids who know someone in hospice care or terminally ill.  Based on pictures drawn by terminally ill children, and using a motif of softly drawn balloons, it depicts the helpers who assist in freeing the purple balloon. 

Other books I've seen people use include The Next Place  (I have an aversion to this one, largely because I think it's not open ended enough for families to apply their own theology or understanding of what may happen after death--and I think it can be a bit scary.  That said, the people who love it, LOVE it).  I've gifted Tear Soup: A Recipe For Healing After Loss   but, I think it works better for grown ups than for kids (pet peeve of mine, "children's books" that are really aimed at grown ups).  And...finally, one I've heard of but not read personally, The Invisible String.  While I haven't read it, I think the concept as it's described (an invisible string connecting us to all those we love that can NEVER be severed) is a wonderful one.  

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