Books for Children on Exploring Grief & Loss

Today’s topic is something we all want to escape discussing. Even as adults the loss of a loved one can be grueling to process, imagine a child’s dismay in the event! 

While grief is inevitable in any person’s life, nothing has made the fragility of life so apparent and hard to dismiss as the past year. Life feels like a Marvel movie, but there’s no superhero coming to the rescue. Well, until the superhero arrives, there are books!

Here are some children’s book recommendations about loss, grief, bereavement. 


Picture Books

book-gone-grandmother

Gone Grandmother

Chathura Rao

Why read it?

A little girl is full of innocent questions when her grandmother dies. when her mother is unable to provide the answers, Nina finds them herself! A heartfelt book about some very difficult questions that are sure to follow after a tragedy, this book answers them simply, at the same time profoundly!

heart-and-bottle-book

The Heart and the Bottle

Oliver Jeffers

Why read it?

I think no one does emotional unraveling as well as Oliver Jeffers, so how can he not be on this list. In this one, a little girl copes with her loss by locking her heart away, and let me tell you no one does symbolism as hard-hitting as Jeffers either! He says such poetic volumes in less than a hundred words and this book is no exception! In fact, I think he’s outdone himself in this one. This book will stay in your heart, this I promise

the-sea-saw-book

The Sea Saw

Tom Percival

Why read it?

A young girl loses her beloved Teddy and must learn to live without it, this is a powerful, deep book about how nothing is truly lost as long as it’s in your heart, that it will find its way back to you in another form, at a different time.


Early Readers

bridge-to -terabithia-book

Bridge to Terabithia

Katherine Paterson

Why read it?

Two lonely teens find friendship in their shared imagination but then life throws a curveball. I can’t say who dies in this one without spoiling the book (even if it’s no secret, really) but the events come more painful and shocking than a bucket of ice water on a cold Sunday morning. What I love about this one is how as a reader, you’ll go through all the stages of grief with the protagonist, the denial, the numbness, the guilt, the hopelessness. But you’ll also pull through with the protagonist, learning to appreciate the memories and also what’s in front of you. 

book-charlottes-web

Charlotte’s Web

E. B. White

Why read it?

I love Charlotte’s Web, I read it ages ago but I swear it’s the reason spiders don’t freak me out! If that doesn’t endorse the power of books, I don’t know what will! 

But on a serious note, this one is a magical, beautiful story about friendship that will make your heart swell. It has the most perfect, surreal ending ever! There is the death of one of the major characters, but there’s hope in that end, and there’s perfect closure!


Middle Grade

book-monster-calls

The Monster Calls

Patrick Ness

Why read it?

This is another favorite of mine and a must-read book when it comes to grief. It’s about a boy losing his mother to cancer and I love how raw all the emotions in this book are! You’ll feel the young boy’s rage, his helplessness, the elusive hope his floundering hands keep reaching out for. This book is brutal, but it’s the most honest and real portrayal of grief I’ve ever read.

summerlost-book

Summerlost

Ally Condie

Why read it?

Summer lost is a book about picking yourself up after a loss. It’s about getting through loss, day after ordinary day and that’s why I really liked it! There’s no punch-in-the-gut epiphany here, just the hope that time and effort can be healing. 

the-land-of-yesterday-book

The Land of Yesterday

K. A. Reynolds

Why read it?

I love books that build an elaborate, fantastical world to deliver a simple, small message! This is one of those! This is a story full of metaphor and symbolism and I believe all that interpretation and nuances make the simple message more impactful and satisfying! If you’re looking for a book that handles grief with lots of imagination and lyrical prose, this is your read.  


Young Adult

happiness-index-book

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Julie Israel

Why read it?

Ever since her sister died, Juniper has lost her purpose, her friends, herself! Then a mysterious letter makes her start wondering if she ever knew her sister at all. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is a light YA about life-altering events and all the depression, regret, resentment, and heartbreak they bring into your life. It’s about getting by, one day at a time. It’s about looking for answers and finding peace when you find none. Most importantly, it’s about carrying on when your life has fallen apart!

million-junes-book

A Million Junes

Emily Henry

Why read it?

A Romeo and Juliet fantasy retelling about memories, magic, curses, family secrets, forbidden love, and grief, this book has everything I love! I especially loved the writing and the world, it’s whimsical, strange, and absurdly endearing! The characters and their equations will have your heart and that ending is a spellbinding revelation that’ll stay with you a long time!

Photo of author

Kavya Mehta

Bookistaan is a recommendations-based children’s bookstore that believes that a child’s imagination is a black canvas that can and should be painted all sorts of colours and the best way to do it is through books. We bring the best of Children’s literature from India and abroad, offering diverse, age-appropriate reads for your child’s every need.

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