Books for Tough Times

Loss is something we all have to deal with in life but many parents and carers worry about speaking to children about death because they fear they may makes things worse and cause children distress.

If a child has experienced the death of someone they know, it’s important to acknowledge what has happened. You won’t make it worse because ‘the worst’ has already happened, and you shouldn’t worry that you don’t have all the answers. To support children, the most important thing is to be there and let them know you are willing to listen. You can access support from charities such as Winston’s Wish as well.

When a death is further off, such as the death of a high-profile person, it’s hard to know how children might be affected. The recent death of the Queen has been discussed at great length in the media and ‘real life’ situations such as school. You might want to say, ‘It’s very sad that the Queen has died. If you want to talk, I’m here.’

Many children’s authors have looked at death and loss in moving, thoughtful and age-appropriate ways. These are some of our favourite children’s books about loss. They’re suitable for sharing any time.

Granpa by John Burningham
A little girl and her grandfather have lovely times together, until Granpa becomes unwell and dies and there is a period of sadness before life becomes more normal again. 3+

Goodbye Mog by Judith Kerr
The Thomas family’s beloved Mog passes away, but her spirit remains behind to watch over the Thomases and their new kitten. 3+

Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies
A sensitive book about a grandad who has ‘gone away’ and how our loved ones live on in our memories. 4+

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
A beautiful book about the importance of acknowledging our feelings when a loved one dies because grief is part of life. 5+

*Scottish title* Grandpa was an Astronaut by Jonathan Meres, illustrated by Hannah Coulson

Sherman’s Grandpa has an actual piece of moon rock from a space mission, and so Sherman knows he’ll always think of Grandpa when he looks at the moon. 6+

The Building Boy by Ross Montgomery, illustrated by David Litchfield
A boy who dreamed of building a house with his architect grandma must build it on his own. 7+

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake
In this powerful classic Michael Rosen explains his feelings after the death of his son Eddie. 7+

Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt
Vicky is desperately sad when her friend is killed in an accident, but then her ghost turns up and Vicky must confront the reality of their friendship. 9+

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd, illustrated by Jim Kay
13-year-old Connor is struggling to deal with his mother’s illness, when a monster visits him in the night with three stories to tell. 12+

The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Two American teens meet in a cancer support group and decide to track down a mysterious author in Amsterdam. 13+