A tragedy like the deaths of young Chloe and Aubrey Berry in Oak Bay reverberates into the community, deeply affecting us all. Parents working through their own complex emotions, may struggle to find the words to speak with children about sad, sensitive or traumatic situations. The right book can help, providing solace, guidance, validation, wisdom and healing.

Greater Victoria Public Library’s Collections Services librarians recommend these books to help children cope with grief. To place these titles on hold, visit gvpl.ca.

Picture Books for Children

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper
There was a cat who lived alone—until the day a new cat arrived. And so a story of friendship begins, following two cats through their days, months and years until one day, the older cat has to go. And he doesn’t come back.

Always Remember by Cece Meng
When Old Turtle dies and is taken back by the sea, his friends remember that he was a wonderful teacher and friend who made the world a better place.

The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup
This gentle and comforting tale celebrates life and the memories that are left behind when a loved one dies.

Fiction for Children

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas
A girl’s friendship with a lonely black hole leads her to face her own sadness in this original, funny and touching middle-grade novel for fans of Crenshaw and Flora and Ulysses.

Summerlost by Ally Condie
Following the sudden deaths of her father and younger brother, Cedar Lee spends the summer working at a Shakespearean theater festival, making a new friend and coming to terms with her grief.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death in this outstanding novel that celebrates community and creativity.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Twelve-year-old Suzy Swanson wades through her intense grief over the loss of her best friend by investigating the rare jellyfish she is convinced was responsible for her friend’s death.

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
A funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking story about three boys, one teacher and a day none of them will ever forget.

Non-fiction/information Books for Children

Everywhere and All Around by Pimm van Hest
This book is a poetic story about loss and a little girl’s inspiring belief.

A Sky Full of Diamonds: A Story for Children About Loss, Grief and Hope
This book highlights the importance of taking the time to work through feelings and provides thoughtful activities to help children cope.

What Happens When a Loved One Dies? Our First Talk About Death by Jillian Roberts
Using questions posed in a child’s voice and answers that start simply and become more in-depth, this book allows adults to guide the conversation about death to a natural and reassuring conclusion.

Non-fiction/Information for Adults

The Journey Through Grief and Loss: Helping Yourself and Your Child When Grief Is Shared by Robert Zucker
This book offers parents and other concerned readers important insights into managing their own grief while supporting their grieving children.

What Children Need When They Grieve: The Four Essentials: Routine, Love, Honesty, and Security by Julia Wilcox Rathkey
These four concepts, however simple, are crucial for those who want to successfully guide their children through one of the most difficult passages they may face in life: the loss of a loved one.

Caring for Your Grieving Child: Engaging Activities for Dealing with Loss and Transition by Martha Wakenshaw
The book offers healthy ways to communicate with children, tips on how to care for yourself while helping a child, and ways to recognize the signs children exhibit when they truly begin to heal.

Family Picks To Go Kit

With a Family Picks to Go Kit, you can dig deeper into a topic with a selection of books curated by GVPL librarians. GVPL has light-hearted kits—like camping, coding or gardening—and some for more serious times: coping with the death of a family member or pet, divorce or anxiety. Each kit contains seven books.

KIT: Let’s Talk About People Dying
All the books in this kit are available to borrow individually.
Bear and Bird by James Skofield
An old bear and a young bird become friends and spend several years together until the bear’s death. The young bird is comforted by memories of their time together.

The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr
Illustrations and brief text show how a person might feel when they lose someone they love.

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
After safeguarding her heart in a bottle hung around her neck, a girl finds the bottle growing heavier, and her interest in things around her becomes smaller.

Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies by Janis Silverman
An art therapy and activity book for children coping with death.

I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas
This book helps readers understand that death is a natural complement to life, and that grief and a sense of loss are normal feelings for them to have following the death of a loved one.

Lifetimes: A Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen
Lifetimes is a moving book for children of all ages—parents, too. It helps explain life and death in a sensitive, caring, beautiful way.

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
The authors explain in simple language the feelings people may have regarding the death of a loved one and the ways to honour the memory of someone who has died.

For more information about Greater Victoria Public Library’s Collections or to place these titles on hold, visit gvpl.ca.