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Educational Books about Death and Grief

Bernstein, J. and Gullo, S. When People Die. New York: Dutton, 1977. (SA)

Explains in simple terms reasons for death, theories on afterlife, rituals and burial practices of various cultures, grief and the naturalness of death in the chain of life.

Boritzer, E. What Is Death? Santa Monica, CA: Veronica Lane Books, 2000. (SA)

A gentle-toned and brightly illustrated book which discusses "big" and basic questions about death in a very accessible way. This is one of the few books that deals with different ways that major religions understand death and dying including Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish perspectives.

Brown, K.B. & Brown, M. When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1996. (PS/SA)

Another in the popular dinosaur series from Laura and Marc Brown, contents include, What does alive mean? Why does someone die, What does dead mean, Feelings about death, saying goodbye, keeping customs and Ways to remember someone.

Greenlee, S. When Someone Dies. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 1992. (SA)

With gentleness and directness, this book addresses common feelings and questions children often have following the death of someone special. An effective resource for talking about grief reactions.

Grollman, E. Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers: How to Cope with Losing Someone You Love. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993. (AD)

This excellent book speaks directly to young adults, “the forgotten mourners,” in a way that recognizes feelings, encourages discussion and offers hope for the future.

Grollman, E. Talking About Death: A Dialogue Between Parent and Child. Boston: Beacon, 1976. (PA/SA)

The first portion of the book presents a story about the death of a grandfather in a simple language that deals with guilt and commemoration. The rest of the book is directed to adults who help children understand death and dying.

Grollman, E. and Johnson, J. A Child's Book about Death. Omaha, NE: Centering Corporation, 2001. (PS/SA)

Along with the next 2 books listed, this is a workbook book that can be adapted for use with older preschool and elementary age children. They all can be a resource for adults who work with or talk with children about death.

Grollman, E. and Johnson, J. A Child's Book about Funerals and Cemeteries. Omaha, NE: Centering Corporation, 2001. (PS/SA)

Grollman, E. and Johnson, J. A Child's Book about Burial and Cremation. Omaha, NE: Centering Corporation, 2001. (PS/SA)

Heegaard, M.E. Coping with Death and Grief. Minneapolis: Lerner, 1990. (SA/AD)

A nonfiction account of change, death, funerals and other traditions, personal and family grieving. Examples of chapters include: saying Goodbye is Difficult; Letting Out Your feelings; when a Family Member Dies; When Someone Else is Grieving; Feeling Good About Yourself.

Johnson, J. and Johnson, M. Tell Me, Papa: A Gentle Explanation for Children about Death and the Funeral. Omaha, NE: Centering Corporation, 1978. (PS/SA)

This book is full of simple, understandable explanations for what happens at a funeral, burial, and cremation. A good resource for preparing young children for attending a funeral or visitation.

Mellonie, B. and Ingpen, R. Lifetimes: A Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children. New York: Bantam Books, 1983. (PS/SA)

Very nicely illustrated, this book explains that all living things have a beginning and an ending with living in-between called a lifetime. This is true for insects, plants, fish, birds, trees, rabbits, and people.

Palmer, P. I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand: A Child's Guide to Grief and Loss. Atascadero, CA: Impact Publishers, 1994. (PS/SA)

Simply written, direct, and gentle-spirited, this book provides explanations about how people cope and feel when someone dies. The illustrations show a preschool-aged girl expressing the different feelings and reactions in grief.

Rofes, E. The Kids’ Book About Death and Dying: By and For Kids. Boston, Toronto: Little, Brown & Co. 1985. (AD)

Through group experiences and creative writing, students of the Fayerweather Street school examined their earliest experiences with death, their thoughts on American death rituals, their fears and fantasies. Useful reading for teachers and adults.

Romain, T. What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies? Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 1999. (SA)

Simply illustrated and direct, this book lists and responds to many common questions young people experience when a person dies. Questions addressed include Why do people have to die? What is it like to die? Is it okay to cry? What happens to the person's body? and How can I say good-bye?

Silverman, J. Help Me Say Goodbye. Minneapolis: Fairview Press, 1999. (PS/SA)

This art therapy book encourages children to express their feelings in words or pictures. Used with adult supervision, it could help a child gain a better understanding of feelings and what happens when someone dies along with prompting helpful conversations.

Spies, K. Everything You Need to Know About Grieving. New York: Rosen, 1990. (AD)

Personal anecdotes for various teens illustrate the way people grieve, sharing of feelings and recovering from grief.

Stein, S.B. About Dying: An Open Book for Parents and Children Together. New York: Walker, 1974. (PS/SA)

This book has separate texts for the adult and the child. The death of a pet bird and a grandfather are depicted, including a brother and sister’s participation in both funerals. The mother supportively deals with the children’s questions and needs. The story explains that remembering helps us deal with our feelings. Excellent multiracial photographs of children involved in living out the story.

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