Some ways that families use the library are pretty routine … Storytimes are overflowing with little ones experiencing the wonders available in books. Cookbooks of healthy, family friendly foods fly off of the shelves like hotcakes. Children’s health books and parenting books are a safe bet with the parenting set as well.
During less routine life events, families also turn to the library for materials that help ease the way. One such life event is the loss of a loved one or pet. This is often a difficult time for the parent as well as the child. It can be difficult to find the words or even to muster the emotional fortitude to discuss these events with the children of the family.
One way some families choose to deal with these difficult events is to snuggle up together on a cozy couch and read books that can help them to share their feelings. The characters in the books have all sorts of feelings that are completely relevant to the grief and sometimes anger that is felt after a death in the family. UC Davis Children’s hospital recommends books as a tool in helping families talk openly about the different ways to handle sadness and grief. The National Association for Educators of Young Children recommend the following books to help families discuss this tough topic:
You Hold Me and I’ll Hold You by Jo Carson is about a little girl and her emotions at a memorial service. The formal setting as well as the strong emotions of her loved ones leads her to seek comfort in holding and being held by her father.
Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola is about the author’s special relationship with his grandmother and great-grandmother. He shares how he is able to cope with their deaths.
Jim’s Dog Muffins by Miriam Cohen shares how a first-grader deals with the range of emotions that emerge after the death of his dog. One of which is the frustration that his classmates can’t seem to understand how he feels.
Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Lucille Clifton outlines for children the five stages of grief in an understandable way. The charcoal drawings and rhyming text illustrate Everett’s grief and mother’s support after the death of his father.
When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown is a straight forward explanation of death and dying on a young child’s level. The topics are presented in a question and answer format with plenty of illustrations.
The Saddest Time by Norma Simon consists of three gentle stories covering three different circumstances: death by illness, accident, and old age. All present children’s feelings and coping strategies.
The Next Place by Warren Hanson is a universal view of life after death. The book avoids specific religious references but does attempt to create a reassuring view of the next place through uplifting words and peaceful illustrations.
Books won’t magically mend the broken-hearted, but hopefully they will help adults and children communicate about their feelings in difficult times. The above selections are available within the Houston County Public Library System. Librarians and library staff often offer reader’s advisory for families on a multitude of topics, even tough ones. If you ever need help finding a selection, just ask. We are here to help.