Book Reviews for CHILDREN

  • Arcellana, Francisco, The Mats. 1999 Kane/Miller Book Publishers.
    Randy's Review: From the Phillipines, The Mats tells a beautiful story of a father remembering his children, present and past with beautiful mats that he brings back from a trip. Beautifully illustrated and translated so well as to not compromise the uniqueness of the Filipino cultural backdrop, The Mats was the winner of the 1995 Phillipines National Book Award for Children’s Literature.

  • Blackburn, Lynn Bennett The Class in Room. 1991 Centering Corporation.
    Randy's Review: Classmates of a deceased child often suffer in silence with schools too often scared to discuss death and dying in the classroom. In an easy to read story format, The Class in Room 44 illustrates the need for discussion when a classmate suddenly dies. The real jewel of this book is found at the conclusion of the story in a section entitled "A Few Thoughts For Teachers and Parents". It is here that parents and teachers are given useful instructions on dealing with the subject of death with schoolage children in and out of the classroom. An important book for parents that underscores the need for this type of discussion in the classroom setting.

  • Boulden, Jim & Joan, Goodbye Forever. 1994 Boulden Publishing.
    Randy's Review: A great workbook for Kindergarten to Grade 2-age children having experienced a loss of a sibling or friend. It explains death and the customs surrounding death while dispelling some of the well-intentioned misinformation that parents provide their children (such as death is like going to sleep). While "Goodbye Forever" is a colouring book, it makes for a great bedtime story for children soon after they have experienced a loss.

  • Brown, Laurie Krasny, Brown, Marc, 1996 When Dinosaurs Die. Little, Brown and Company.
    Randy's Review: A child's definitive guide to understanding death, "When Dinosaurs Die" explores the terminology and feelings surrounding death. It may make you wince when you discuss death in such vivid terms with your youngster for the first time, but this book will go a long way in helping your children cope with the death of a loved one. The book is colourful, well illustrated, and contains a glossary of death and bereavement terminology in the back.

  • Buscaglia, Leo, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf. 1982 Slack Incorporated.
    Randy's Review: A children's book that is great for people of all ages helping to explain death as the final episode in the passage of life. This book brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. Buy it for your kids; buy it for youself. It makes a great keepsake next to "I'll Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch.

  • Clifton, Lucille Everett Anderson's Goodbye. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd.
    Randy's Review: A simple but touching story of loss combines the strong writing talent of Lucille Clifton with the true to life imagery of illustrator Ann Grifalconi. While this is book is intended for children, all ages will be able to empathize with Everett Anderson’s loss. This book is a Coretta Scott King Award winner. Bravo.

  • Cave, Anne Good, Balloons For Trevor. 1998 Concordia Publishing House.
    Randy's Review: Balloons is a beautiful children story that introduces children to death by describing a young boy's experiences with the loss of his best friend Trevor. Heartwarming and moving, "Balloons For Trevor" helps children deal with death and offers hope through a Christian religious theme. While the religious learning will mean it is not suited for everyone, the realism of having the child confront the death of his friend brought tears to my eyes.
  • Author's Note: "Based on the experiences my family went through after the death of our son's best friend, 'Balloons for Trevor' is a children's book designed to help parents help their children grieve. I found that so many books about death end right after the ceremonies are over, but the grief process really takes a lifetime. That is why I always say that 'Balloons for Trevor' is not about death, but about grief. It follows a child through his bereavement for about a year, exploring the confusing and conflicting emotions he experiences, as well as offering simple, Christian-based explanations for common children's questions. A list of suggestions for parents is included." -- Anne Good Cave

  • Cohen, Cindy Klein, Heiney, John T., Daddy's Promise. 1997 Promise Publications.
    Randy's Review: For young children, the death of a parent might be the hardest loss of all. Daddy's Promise will bring tears to your eyes as it tells the story of the loss of a father through the eyes and with the language of the young child character. A heart wrenching yet heartwarming account of loss that is well suited to children and adults alike.
  • De Paola, Tomie, Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs. 1978 Puffin Books.
    Randy's Review
    : A favorite in the child bereavement community, "Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs" is the loving tale of a child experiencing the death of a grandparent. This book provides a good introduction to death for young and old children alike. Suitable for ages 3-8.

  • Fitzgerald, Helen, The Grieving Teen. A Guide For Teenagers And Their Friends. 2000 Fireside.
    Randy's Review
    : Written for the 13-19 year old age set, The Grieving Teen helps to address the many questions that teenagers have in respect to dying and death. Over and over again, the author answers the questions about what came be done to assist the dying and bereaved in practical terms. Written to teens, for teens, this book might be a helpful read for parents who are trying to understand their children better in the midst of a loss.

  • Grollman, Earl A., Talking About Death. 1990 Beacon Press.
    Randy's Review: This is such a gem of a book for bereaved parents with children that I don't know where to start. Using the pretext of a child's story, "Talking About Death" helps parents understand and confront bereaved children about the subject of death and dying. The children's story at the beginning of this book helps parents and caregivers deal with the difficult questions children have about death. If you didn't know how to approach the topic of death with your children, then this book is a must for your library. A well prepared and organized reading list for children to boot!

  • Heegaard, Marge, When Someone Very Special Dies. 1988 Woodland Press.
    Randy's Review: When someone very special dies allows the child to be an active participant in their healing process by allowing them to express their feeling surrounding grief on paper. A helpful workbook that allows children to work through their grief. A great guide for facilitators is included for parents and educators.

  • Johnson, Joy, Johnson, Marvin, Children Grieve, Too. 1998 Centering Corporation.
    Randy's Review: Another great resource from The Centering Corporation that intended to be read immediately after the death and before the funeral. This publication is a guide to understanding and responding to the initial symptoms of grief in infants and children. Includes a great explanation for young children of what death is.

  • Joslin, Mary, The Goodbye Boat. 1998 Lion Publishing.
    Randy's Review: Especially well-suited to younger children, the Goodbye Boat provides hope and comfort when someone special dies.

  • Johnson, Joy & Marv, Where’s Jess. 1992 Centering Corporation.
    Randy's Review:For youngsters coping with the loss of a brother or sister, Where’s Jess answers questions young children might have about death. An easy bedtime.

  • Kaldhol, Marit, Oyen, Wenche, Goodbye Rune. 1987 Kane/Miller Book Publishers.
    Randy's Review: Originally from Norway, Goodbye Rune tells the story of a young child coming to terms with the death of a close friend and playmate. Speaking frankly about loss and the rituals surrounding death, Goodbye Rune is a relevant guide for discussing grief with young children. A kind, gentle, and loving story of loss, grief, and what to do with tomorrow. A children’s story that stands out in the crowd.

  • Leavy, Una, Good-Bye Papa. 1996 Orchard Books.
    Randy's Review: A moving story of two boys having to come to terms with the loss of their dear grandfather. A lesson on saying goodbye, Good-Bye Papa is beautifully illustrated and well-suited to children of all ages.

  • MacGregor, Cynthia, "Why Do People Die?". 1999 Carol Publishing Group.
    Randy's Review: The problem in teaching children about death and the rituals associated with death is that it is typically initiated following the death of a loved one. When your children are hurt, scared, and angry, you are suddenly cast the responsibility of teaching one of life's most difficult lessons. Use this well written and beautifully illustrated "Why Do People Die?" story to teach your children about what happens when life comes to an end. The content in this book is heavy for young readers and some questions may arise that will cause you to read this storybook over a number of sittings. Don't be scared to talk about death with your children because it is a bitter pill to swallow when the lesson is suddenly necessitated as a result of a loss.

  • MacLachlan, Patricia, Baby. 1993 Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers.
    Randy's Review:A children’s tale about love, loss, an risk. Well-suited for school age children.

  • Mellonie, Bryan and Ingpen, Robert, Lifetimes. 1983 Bantam Books.
    Randy's Review: This children's book explains how every plant, animal and person has a lifetime consisting of both a beginning and an end. "Lifetimes" is well illustrated and explains dying as a process of life itself in a gentle caring way. This may be very comforting for young children experiencing the death of a sibling.

  • Mood, Pat, Whittaker, Lesley, Finding a Way Through When Someone Close Has Died. 2001 Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
    Randy's Review: Created by children for children, this unique workbook is written and illustrated by young people who have experienced the loss of someone close to them. Childlike, yet it touches upon a lot of serious subject matter for your school age children.

  • Mundy, Michaelene, Sad Isn't Bad. 1998 Abbey Press.
    Randy's Review: I so wish that I had such a wonderful book to read to my children in the weeks and months following the loss of their brother. Well-written and well-illustrated, Sad Isn't Bad tackles the tough questions that children have following the loss of a loved one. Perhaps a "Guidebook for Kids" as the author suggests. Read it again and you will see find that Sad Isn't Bad is a great guidebook for bereaved parents as well.

  • Munsch, Robert, Love You Forever. 1986 Firefly Books Limited.
    Randy's Review: Love You Forever is a book that chronicles the passage of life for young readers. Like a lot of Robert Munsch lessons on life experiences, expect the wisdom in "Love you Forever" to be passed from parent to child and from your children to theirs. A truly loving story of a young boy growing up and experiencing his parents love endure and cross over to the next generation.

  • Old, Wendie C., Stacy Had A Little Sister. 1995 Albert Whitman & Company.
    Randy's Review: This is a children's story that addresses a little girl coping with the loss of her infant sister who suddenly dies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS must be one of the most difficult things to explain to a child and hopefully Stacy Had A Little Sister will make it a little easier for bereaved parents, relatives, and grief counsellors. Such a well written book that just the thought of this story brings tears to my eyes.

  • Palmer, Pat, I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand. 1995 Impact Publishers.
    Randy's Review: What a wonderful story to read a young child who is beset by the death of a loved one. "I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand" reaches out to the child reader and describes what normal grief reactions should feel like. With young children so scared to acknowledge their feelings surrounding the death, this book draws out these feelings and helps them deal with them in practical terms. If you have young children who have experienced a loss, than this book may help draw out their suppressed feelings.

  • Roper, Janice, Dancing on the Moon. 2001 SIDS Educational Services.
    Randy's Review: A moving story of how a 5 year old is helped by her mother to love the younger brother who has died suddenly. This beautifully illustrated children’s story is magical, honest, and charming. A wonderful storybook that will help your young children understand grief.

  • Rothman, Juliet, A Birthday Present For Daniel. 1996 Prometheus Books.
    Randy's Review: A good storybook for children who have experienced the loss of a sibling. While the author acknowledges writing "A Birthday Present For Daniel" for a young child, I feel it delves into areas that may be inappropriate for a very young child. I read it to my 5 year-old and he had difficulty understanding some of the concepts. I suggest it to be read to grade 1-3 aged children.

  • Silverman, Janis, Help Me Say Goodbye. 1999 Fairview Press.
    Randy's Review: This book is well suited for teachers, school counsellors, and professional children's grief counsellors who want to use the questions to evoke questions and drawings from grieving children. If parents want to read this book, they might want to skip right to the suggestions and ideas for coping with the death of a loved one contained on pages 20 and 21.

  • Silverstein, Shel, The Giving Tree. 1964 Harper Collins Publishers.
    Randy's Review: For over 30 years, "The Giving Tree" has been a source of inspiration for children and adults alike who learn the lessons of giving and loving. And why is a book that seems to have nothing to do with bereavement in this recommended reading list you ask? Don't forget to teach your children the positive lessons of living and loving in equal time to the brutal realities that may await them. Shel Silverstein and The Giving Tree provide will set you on the path to teaching your first lesson. A keeper for your children and your children's children.

  • Simon, Jack, This Book Is For All Kids, But Especially My Sister Libby. Libby Died. 2001 GSD&M Idea University Press.
    Randy's Review: Through the eyes of a young child, this book is authored by 5 year old Jack Simon as the book jacket says, “as told to his mom, usually at bedtime”. This lovely story written by young Jack and his mother will bring tears to your eyes as it captures the innocence of how young children confront death and bereavement. A book for all ages that will touch you like no other. Buy it for your children; buy it for yourself.
    Reader's Review: There is a wonderful book for grieving children called "This Book Is for All Kids but Especially My Sister, Libby. Libby Died." It's by Jack and Annette Simon who are a mother-son team. This book came to my attention through a mom who lost her daughter a couple of years ago. She described it as "A Godsend" because it was written from a child's perspective. I have since given two copies as gifts (I'm sad to say) to parents, one who lost a husband, and one a child. In both cases, there were young children in the family who were grieving. It is very touching and believe it or not, even funny in places. It's a great book for kids who may be holding back their feelings. - MaryEllen Rasnic

  • Simon, Norma, The Saddest Time. 1986 General Publishing, Limited.
    Randy's Review: The three smaller stories that fill the pages of this book; the death of a young uncle with a terminal illness, of a classmate killed in an accident, and of a grandparent help children see death as part of the natural cycle of life. While the stories are filled with sadness, they remind and inspire the young reader to cherish the life of the deceased as they mourn his/her death. There are a few bedtime stories in the pages of this book.

  • Singleton Prestine, Joan, Someone Special Dies. 1993 Fearon Teacher Aids.
    Randy's Review: What I found so remarkable about Someone Special Dies is that it is so well suited to bringing out discussion in preschooler audiences. Without identifying who has died, the child character in the book discusses death and the feelings of permanent loss. I think that books such as Some Special Dies should be part of the prescribed preschool curriculum.

  • Temes, Roberta, The Empty Place. 1992 Small Horizons.
    Randy's Review: “The Empty Place” is suitable for older children in grade 2 or 3 but may be disturbing to younger children. It addresses the issues surrounding death in grade 2-3 age appropriate language and raises issues pertinent to that age group. Don’t let the childlike writing and illustrations fool you. This is a serious storybook that is sure to generate discussion between you and your children.

  • Viorst, Judith, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney. 1971 Aladdin Paperbacks.
    Randy's Review: A touching story of a boy coming to terms with the death of his cat. Reminding us that a child's first experience with bereavement is often experienced with the death of a pet, the author tells a heartwarming story through the eyes of a child. You don't have to have experienced the loss of a pet to enjoy "The Tenth Good Thing About Barney".

  • Winsch, Jane Loretta, After the Funeral. 1995 Paulist Press.
    Randy's Review: After the Funeral is a well-illustrated book for children having to come to terms with the loss of a loved one following the funeral. A light read that will provoke discussion with your young children. It did with mine.

  • Wolfelt, Alan D., A Child's View of Grief. 1991 Center for Loss and Life Transition.
    Randy's Review: If you want to help your children better cope with the death of a loved one, A Child's View of Grief provides some great resource material to help you understand the signs of grieving in your bereaved children. This book speaks to parents that they become good observers and listeners as they look to guide their children through the grief process. Wolfelt is right on the money with A Child's View of Grief.

  • Wolfelt, Alan D., Healing Your Grieving Heart For Kids. 100 Practical Ideas. 2001 Companion Press.
    Randy's Review: A practical idea book for grieving children to help them mourn the loss of a loved one. The book provides practical ideas and exercises to help bereaved children release the pain they are feeling. Don’t miss the 10 Grief Rights that the author includes at the back of the book.

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