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12 Books That Help Kids Understand Death And Illness

When kids ask about death, illness, or loss, it's really hard to know what to say or how to answer them. The books in this list help explain these weighty topics in an easy to grasp and age appropriate manner.

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Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley

Badger's woodland friends feel overwhelmed when he dies, but discover that the many memories Badger created can help each animal heal and cope.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

The key message behind this book is a reassurance for children that although they may be separated from people special to them--through loss, or distance, or difficulty--the love and memories they have with that person forms an unending connection.

The Elephant in the Room: A Children's Book for Grief and Loss by Amanda Edwards and Leslie Ponciano

Written by early childhood educators and development specialists, this book offers coping strategies for young children encountering loss for the first time.

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia

This is simple story about a leaf named Freddie. He and his companion leaves change with the passing seasons, finally falling to the ground with winter's snow.

The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr

Todd Parr is pretty much the best at explaining, well, everything. If you have a preschooler on your hands who is struggling with the loss of a relative or friend, this touching and colorful book will help.

Where Do People Go When They Die by Minda Avra Portnoy

This book offers a spiritual take on children's question: "where do I go when I die?" The book also comes with an accompanying resource guide for parents.

Wishes for One More Day by Melanie Joy Pastor

A group of siblings and cousins compiles a list of wishes starting a new family tradition that helps process the loss of their beloved grandfather.

Sadie and Ori and the Blue Blanket by Jamie Korngold

Sadie and Ori love playing with their grandmother, but as the years progress, they begin to notice that grandma needs more rest. This charming book helps children understand what it means to have an aging relative in a way that feels hopeful.

Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie dePaola

This touching story about a young boy coping with his grandfather's disability has long been one of Tomie dePaola's most popular picture books.

Ida, Always by Caron Levis

Gus and his best friend Ida live in the middle of a beautiful park in a big city. When the friends learn that Ida is sick and won't be getting better, they lean on each other to cope. A wonderful read for children who have a family member with a terminal illness.

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