It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Books For Grieving and Healing

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

A very good friend of mine is a principal in a neighbouring school district.  On Thursday, she learned that a grade 3 student in her school died under horrific and tragic circumstances.   The school, staff, parents and students are, as you can imagine, in shock and disbelief.  My friend has the enormous task of trying to support her school community while she, too, is grieving the loss of this dear little girl.  She stopped by my house on Friday and asked if I could recommend any picture books that she might be able to take to school on Monday to read to classes; books that might help them understand and deal with this sudden loss.  A beautiful reminder that in times when we may be at a loss for just the right words, we turn to children’s books to find strength and guidance.

In honor of the students, staff and parents at Rosemary Heights Elementary School in Surrey – here are some books that I hope will bring you some comfort during this difficult time:

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The Memory String – Eve Bunting

A young girl deals with the loss of her mother.  Holding on to memories of a lost loved one through buttons on a “memory string” and learning to create new ones.

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The Memory Tree – Britta Teckentrup

When Fox dies, his animal friends gather to share the memories of their friend.  A beautiful and heartfelt story about the death of a loved one and the memories that comfort those left behind.

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Always and Forever – Alan Durant

This book gives a heart-warming account of how we deal with bereavement and come to terms with the loss of somebody close to us. Beautiful illustrations and tender story of forest animals who are dealing with the loss of one of their close friend. 

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Water Bugs and Dragon Flies: Explaining Death to Young Children – Doris Stickley

In a simple, meaningful way, Doris Stickley uses an adapted fable about the waterbug that changes into a dragonfly to explain the death of a friend to neighbourhood children.  Some spiritual context is implied and while it does not focus on any particular religion, I found it particularly comforting. 

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The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic

This book  tells the story of a young boy trying to grieve, adapt, and accept the death of his mother. Told with such straight forward, simple gestures and emotion from anger to tears, this book will make your heart ache.  Powerful and emotional but a very good book to spark discussion and promote hope and healing.

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The Tenth Good Thing About Barney – Judith Viorst

This book is about the loss of a pet but I like how sensitively the book touches on expressing feelings about a loss (both sadness and good memories.) It does touch on the idea of Heaven, but does so in a neutral way.

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Michael Rosen’s Sad Book  – Michael Rosen

This wonderful book, illustrated by Quentin Blake, describes Michael Rosen’s grief at the death of his son.  It vividly describes the ever-changing fluidity of grief – the sudden and unexpected moments of happiness, then anger, then resentment.  Knowing that there different ways of being sad is an important message to share with people who are affected by a death or a loss. 

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My Father’s Arms are Like a Boat – Stein Erik Lunde

Haunting, beautiful story of a child and father’s sadness over the death of the mother.  Soft illustrations and poetic, subtle word choice – this story is achingly beautiful.

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The Fall of Freddie the Leaf – Leo Buscaglia

This book makes me cry but in a good way. It is an excellent choice when teaching children about the end of life for someone they love. It makes death a natural celebration of peace after a struggle to hang on to something that is no longer important. It speaks of a higher purpose in the circle of all things. 

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The Heart and the Bottle – Oliver Jeffers

This simple story tells of a young girl who “locks her heart away” after her grandfather dies, protecting it from feeling pain.   Wonderful, simple message about how to open up your heart after a loss and begin to love and feel again.  Beautiful message of hope and love. 

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Badger’s Parting Gifts – Susan Varley

This is a heart warming story that introduces grief, loss and the subject of death in a gentle way.  I like that the friends are so very sad when their friend dies, but by sharing happy memories of their friend together, it helps them deal with their sadness.

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I’ll Always Love You – Hans Wilhelm

This is a heart-aching story of a child dealing with the loss of the family dog.  Beautifully written and lovely illustrations.  Sad but helpful and hopeful in the end.

Thanks for stopping by.  I do recommend you read through these any of these books before sharing them with children as some of them may not be appropriate or fit your own beliefs.  I would love suggestions of books you have shared with students who may have experienced loss of a loved one.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the school community of Rosemary Heights Elementary as they deal with this loss.

 

 

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8 Comments

Filed under Grief, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

8 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Books For Grieving and Healing

  1. kaymcgriff

    I will remember your friend and her school as the grieve today and in the days to come. Dealing with the death of a student is not something I was ever prepared for. That day was one of the hardest of my teaching career. Thank you for sharing these books. I also like This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort. They were collected by Georgia Heard to share with school children in Manhattan after 9-11, but they offer comfort to anyone suffering loss.

    • Thank you for your thoughts and I’m sorry that you had to personally experience the loss of a student. How very difficult for you and your class. Georgia Heard is one of my favorite poets so I will definitely add this to my list. Thanks for recommending it.

  2. Oh dear. I think I know which little girl this is. Such a tragic and heartbreaking story. I have a list on my blog of such titles too – many the same as the ones you have featured here. Here it is: http://thereisabookforthat.com/picture-book-themes/picture-books-that-explore-death-bereavement/ So tricky as many titles talk of the death of a pet or the death of a parent, grandparent. Losing a child is . . . I will be thinking of your friend and this school community.

    • Thanks, Carrie – yes it’s a heartbreaking story indeed. Thanks for sending me your list. I know it’s a little hard to chose books as many are dealing with loss of parent or pet. Also some have religious undertones and I am mindful of that with the children we teach coming from so many different cultures and beliefs. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

  3. Sorry for this terrible loss, Adrienne. How wonderful for you to share this list. I’ll share with our librarians, but I think we have many of them. Every year, sadly, there is some loss that needs discussion, support of students and staff. Stories help start discussions that hopefully will help a little.

    • Thanks, Linda. Yes, most will be familiar to librarians – although The Memory Tree is new to many and one of my favorites. Sadly, there will always be a need for these books but glad we have them to help us help those who need comforting.

  4. Anita Struyk

    If Nathan were Here by Mary Bahr and That Summer by Tony Johnston are two personal favorites.

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