books about grief for teens and young adults
teenager reading about bereavement

Books can help young people process their feelings after bereavement. Stories and other written resources can also open up conversations with teenagers about death and dying.

We’ve picked some of our favourite books which are specifically designed to support adolescents and teenagers during periods of loss.

Out Of The Blue by Julie Stokes and Paul Oxley

Out of the Blue is an activity book which has been developed to support grieving teenagers. It talks openly about the feelings they may be struggling with, using words and stories from teens who have been through similar experiences.

The concept is to provide practical activity-based material to help young people work through their emotions whilst reinforcing the sense that they are not alone. The book is designed so that it can be completed by the teenager on their own or with a family member or professional. The focus is very much on making memories when someone dies.

Buy Out of the Blue

What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies? By Trevor Romain

‘The author wrote this book after his father died. It is gently written and is accessible for children from the age of 8 to young teens. Using simple language and illustrations, it suggests the emotions a young person may be feeling and offers ideas about what to do to feel better. Throughout the book it offers answers to questions such as ‘Why do people have to die?’ and ‘How can I say goodbye?’

Buy What on Earth do you do when Someone Dies

The Year Of The Rat by Clare Furniss

When 15-year-old Pearl’s mum dies giving birth to her baby sister, she has to cope with both the grief of losing a parent and the distress of having a constant reminder of her death, in the form of the baby which she refers to as ‘the Rat’. Pearl deals with death, life, and family in this poignant and bittersweet novel. This book was shortlisted for the Branford Boase prize and longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal.

Buy The Year of the Rat

Sad Book by Michael Rosen

This is a tender and honest account of a father’s grief for his son from two former Children’s Laureates, writer Michael Rosen and illustrator Quentin Blake. Michael Rosen talks about his sadness after the death of his son in a personal story that is suited to teens and adults.

Buy Sad Book

Sometimes Life Sucks: When someone you love dies by Molly Carlisle

Teenagers can face all sorts of experiences of loss, from the death of a grandparent, pet or school friend to a teen fatality, a peer with terminal illness or living without a parent. It may even be the death of a celebrity or someone they knew online. This book is full of helpful stories, tips and information that will help teens navigate all kinds of loss.

Buy Sometimes Life Sucks

Still Here With Me: Teenagers and Children on Losing a Parent by Suzanne Sjoqvist

This sensitive anthology is made up of the experiences of children and young people who talk about their own feelings following the death of a parent. Describing the pain, loss and anger as well as their struggles to cope with other people’s reactions, this is a a book that doesn’t shy away from taboo experiences. It deals with all kinds of deaths, including heart attacks, addiction, domestic violence, natural disaster and war.

Buy Still Here with Me

You Will be Okay by Julie Stokes

The death of a parent, sibling or friend is one of the most traumatic experiences a child or young person will face. This honest, comforting and strength-building guide is ideally suited to 9 – 12 year-olds and is written by Julie Stokes, a clinical psychologist and founder of childhood bereavement charity Winston’s Wish. It includes stories of people who have been through grief and looks at ways to develop confidence, trust, grit, a resilient mindset and flexible feelings.

Buy You Will be Okay

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This bestselling novel about love, loss and hope is aimed at children with a reading age of 11 and above.  It tells the story of Conor, who is dealing with his single mother’s ongoing treatment for cancer. It is a valuable read for older children and teens who may be struggling to come to terms with life’s most difficult times.

Buy A Monster Calls

When Shadows Fall by Sita Brachmachari

With a recommended Reading age of 13 -16 years, this book tells the story of Kai, Orla and Zak who grew up together. They are bound together by music, laughter, friendship and big plans for their future. All this is thrown into the air when Kai’s family suffers a huge loss. Trying to cope with his own grief, as well as watching it tear his family apart, Kai is drawn into a new and more dangerous crowd. Orla, Zak and new classmate Om try to help him find his way back, but are they too late?

Buy When Shadows Fall

You might also be interested in reading our blog Books to Help a Grieving Child which has reading suggestions for younger children to support them through bereavement and open up conversations about death and loss. 

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books to help a grieving child
books to help a grieving child

Books can be an excellent way to support a grieving child and help them manage their emotions after loss. Talking about death can be difficult, and some people find it especially hard to approach the subject with children. In fact, all parents may feel it beneficial to read these books to children, not only when they are bereaved, but as a way of starting conversations about death, dying and bereavement more generally.

We have collected a list of children’s books that explore the subject of death and topics around it such as missing someone, saying goodbye and managing difficult emotions. This list is not exhaustive, and there are many books for children on these topics that we haven’t listed, but these are some that stuck out to us.

Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley

Recommended age: 4-7

This wonderful book introduces children and adults to ageing, death and dying without using sugar-coated language. Badger is old and knows that he will soon die, which doesn’t scare him but leaves him with concern for those he cares about. When Badger’s death finally arrives the reader is taken through the reactions of those that cared for Badger, and how they felt following his death is explored.

Buy Badger’s Parting Gifts

Lifetimes by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen

Recommended age: 5-8

‘Nothing that is alive goes on living forever’

In this gentle book readers are taught that everything that is alive has a lifespan, which begins and also ends. Death and dying is normalised by Mellonie and Ingpen, and made as much a part of living as being born.

Buy Lifetimes

The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup

Recommended age: 4-8

Readers are introduced to Fox who, whilst he has had a long and happy life knows that it is time for him to leave. After he falls asleep for the last time his friends begin to gather round him to share memories, and from this a memory tree grows. In The Memory Tree Teckentrup uses sensitive language to introduce the death of Fox and inspires home with her whimsical illustrations that memories about someone that has died continue on in people’s minds and hearts.

Buy The Memory Tree

When Dinosaurs Die by Laurie Krasny Brown

Recommended age: 4-8

This book explains in simple, honest terms about death, dying and grief. It explores some of the feelings that may be experienced when someone is bereaved, and seeks to answer some of the most commonly asked questions children have about death

Buy When Dinosaurs Die

Wherever You Are: my love will find you by Nancy Tillman

Recommended age: Baby to 4 years

Even when apart, a parent will always love their child. In death that love will remain. This book contains a pertinent reminder for children that have lost a parent that they will never, ever be without their parent’s love, even if they have died.

Buy Wherever You Are

Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch

Recommended age: 7 years and up

Erlbruch’s tender tale of an unlikely friendship between Duck and Death is beautifully illustrated and serves as a gentle reminder that dying comes to us all, and does not need to be feared.

Buy Duck, Death and the Tulip

Gentleman Sam by Penny Hartdale

Gentleman Sam is an elderly dog who finds his forever home on a farm with other animals. Sam has lots of lumps and he knows that one of them will kill him. He is not scared of dying, but has concerns for his friends that will remain behind. When Sam dies his friends are very sad, but in time the sun returns as they begin to understand that Sam remains with them, just out of site.

Buy Gentleman Sam 

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson

Recommended age: 3-7

‘…the pieces all joined together,
and the paper dolls flew
into the little girl’s memory’

This is the story about a girl and her paper dolls, and is a sweet reminder of the circle of life and that those we care about remain with us.

Buy The Paper Dolls

Suzie Goes to a Funeral by Charlotte Olson

Recommended age: 3-7

Attending a funeral for the first time can be daunting, especially for children. In this book Olson explains what can happen at a funeral in ways which children can understand. This book can help children prepare for attending a funeral themselves or can serve as a useful tool to explain what happens at funerals to children that might not be attending themselves, but have questions about the event.

Buy Suzie Goes to a Funeral

Love Will Never Die by Clare Shaw

There are lots of things that children can feel after someone they care about dies. This book explains some of these feelings in honest, clear language, and encourages children to express their feelings through language and through drawing.

Buy Love Will Never Die

Water Bugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney

Recommended age: Primary school age

This tale uses the analogy of a water bug turning into a graceful dragonfly to explain death to children.

Buy Water Bugs and Dragonflies 

Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute? by Elke and Alex Barber

Recommended age: Pre-school children

Sudden deaths can be incredibly difficult to come to terms with and often have an added layer of complexity that expected deaths do not have. Elke and Alex Barber have put together this short book that seeks to help children come to terms with someone they care about dying suddenly – it can also be used by adults to open up the conversation about someone’s death.

Buy Is Daddy Coming Home in a Minute? 

What Happened to Daddy’s Body? by Elke and Alex Barber

Recommended age: 3-7

From the same authors as Is Daddy Coming Home in a Minute?What Happened to Daddy’s Body uses the same delicate but clear language to explain the process of cremation to children.

Buy What Happened to Daddy’s Body?

The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr

Recommended age: 3-6

Through the perspective of a fish that has lost his tank-mate, Parr explores the variety of emotions one can experience in loss, and those behaviours that may result. The book concludes by encouraging readers that positive feelings can come after goodbyes, even though it might not feel like it at the time.

Buy The Goodbye Book

I Miss You by Pat Thomas

Recommended age: 6-12

Simple explanations of death, why people die and what people can feel after a funeral are all contained in this book by Pat Thomas.

Buy I Miss You

Ida, Always by Caron Levis

Recommended age: 4-8

Ida and Gus are polar bears that live in a city zoo. Ida becomes sick with an illness that cannot get better which leads to hear death. Through the experience of Gus and Ida the turbulence of caring for someone through a  terminal illness to their death is delicately spoken about in these whimsically illustrated pages.

Buy Ida, Always

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

Recommended age: 3-8

In this book readers are reminded that no matter what happens, even death, people are always connected to those that they love.

Buy The Invisible String 

The Invisible Leash by Patrice Karst

Recommended age: 3-8

From the author of The Invisible String, this tender tale seeks to reassure readers that after a pet dies, the love they had for them will remain.

Buy The Invisible Leash 

I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm

When Elfie, a young boy’s dog dies from old age the boy and his family are sad. Their grief is explored in this book and relief is found in remembering just how much Elfie was and still is loved.

Buy I’ll Always Love You 

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