Childhood Bereavement Network
National Children's Bureau

Suggested reading

This is a brief list of suggested reading. Many CBN subscribers have more detailed booklists on their websites: try looking for local or national services for details.

Under 5s

When Uncle Bob Died
Althea (2001) Happy Cat Books
A simple book about a boy whose uncle dies from an illness. Explains the facts around death and explores some of the feelings people have.

John Burningham (2003) Red Fox
This picure book (made into a film) shows happy memories of a girl and her grandfather. The last picture shows his chair empty - children may need some explanation of what might have happened.

Goodbye Mousie
Robie Harris (2003) Simon and Schuster Children's Books
A little boy's pet mouse dies and his parents help him to understand what death means by answering his questions.

Key Stage 1 (5-7)

Badger's Parting Gifts

Susan Varley (1994) Picture Lions

A story of animals learning to remember their friend.

The Best Day of the Week

Hannah Cole (1997) Walker Books Ltd

Angela and Carole always spend Saturdays with their grandparents. Their Granny becomes ill and dies, and the book shows the family coping and managing to have fun, while still remembering her.

Waterbugs and Dragonflies: explaining death to young children

Doris Stickney (2002) Continuum International

This book uses the analogy of a waterbug transforming into a dragonfly to illustrate the idea of life after death. Written from a Christian viewpoint, children may need an adult to help understand the relevance of the story.

What do we think about death?

Karen Bryant-Mole (2000) Hodder Wayland

Talks about life, death and the feelings associated with bereavement. Useful as a general education book as well as for bereaved children.

Remembering My Brother

Ginny Perkins and Leon Morris (1996) A & C Black

A boy finds ways to remember his brother in positive ways.

Key Stage 2 (7-11)

Two Weeks with the Queen

Morris Gleitzman (1999) Puffin Books

When Luke gets cancer, his brother Colin is sent to stay with relatives in the UK from their home in Australia. He has adventures trying to get the Queen to lend him the best cancer doctor to treat his brother,

Charlotte's Web

E B White (2003) Puffin Books

A classic story of Wilbur the pig and other animal friends of Fern who lives on a farm. Charlotte the spider saves Wilbur's life, but dies herself after her babies are born.

Milly's Bug-nut

Jill Janney (2002) Winston's Wish

A short story of Milly, whose father has died, and the way her family finds through bereavement. She knows that when people die they can't come back, but she keeps a wish to see her Dad one more time

The Golden Bird (Yellow Bananas)

Berlie Doherty (1995) Heinemann Young Books

When Andrew's father dies, he finds he cannot talk to his friends or teachers about it. His teacher casts him as the golden bird in a school play and he learns to express himself again.

What on earth do you do when someone dies?

Trevor Romain, Elizabeth Verdick (1999) Free Spirit Publishing

Describes the overwhelming emotions involved when a loved one dies, and  discusses how to cope.

Someone special has died

Department of Social Work (1989) St Christopher's Hospice

Describers emotions likely to occur after bereavement and what happens to a body after death

Someone has died suddenly

Department of Social Work (1999) St Christopher's Hospice

Explains what might happen in the aftermath of an unexpected death including procedures such as inquests and funerals, as well as practical suggestions about how to cope.

Key Stage 3 (11-14) and above

The Lost Boys' Appreciation Society

Alan Gibbons (2004) Orion Children's Books

When Gary and John's mother dies suddenly, the boys and their father are thrown into turmoil. John feels responsible for Gary who starts hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Straight talk about death for teenagers

Earl Grollman (1993) Beacon Press

Reassuring the reader that grief is normal, this book covers a range of feelings and reactions in response to different deaths.

Vicky Angel

Jacqueline Wilson (2001) Corgi Children's Books

After Vicky was run over and died, her best friend Jade is confused to find that Vicky is an even more distracting presence than when she was alive. Covers the power of friendship and the overwhelming feelings around a sudden death.

The Charlie Barber Treatment

Carole Lloyd (1997) Walker Books Ltd

When Simon's mother dies suddenly from a brain haemorrhage, he clams up. But his new friend Charlie helps him to talk again to his family and friends, and to find ways of enjoying life.

Someone close to you has died

Candle Project (2001) St Christopher's Hospice

Describes feelings experienced by bereaved teenages and issues including not being understood, wondering if normality can be possible again, changes and unfinished business.

Facing Grief: Bereavement and the young adult

Susan Wallbank (1991) Lutterworth Press

Deals with the particular experience of losing a parent, sibling, partner or friend between the ages of around 18 and 25.


Good Grief 1: exploring feelings, loss and death with under 11s (1995)

Good Grief 2: exploring feelings, loss and death with over 11s and adults (1996)

Barbara Ward (1995, 1996) Jessica Kingsley Publishing

With 20 educators contributing ideas piloted with children of different abilities and backgrounds in their care, this text has been designed to explore and demystify the experience of loss - in different contexts- within the framework of the National Curriculum.

Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine

Winston's Wish and Kate Shepherd (2000) Winston's Wish

A range of fun and thoughtful creative activities and exercises for bereaved children, Fully illustrated, and introducing friendly characters of Bee and Bear.

Grief Encounter Workbook

Shelley Gilbert (2003) Grief Encounter Project

A workbook to encourage conversations about death and bereavement between bereaved children and adults.

When someone very special dies

Marge Heegard (1991) Fairview Press

For children and adults to use together to talk about general concepts of death and loss, as well as around a particular bereavement.

Finding a way through when someone close has died: what it feels like and what you can do to help yourself
Pat Mood and Lesley Whittaker (2001) Jesssica Kinsgley Publisher

Written and illustrated by children and young people who discuss their own feelings after a bereavement and make practical suggestions of what helped them to cope. Readers are encouraged to write and draw about their own experience and to think about how they can seek further support.

Talking with children and young people about death and dying
Mary Turner (1998) Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Covers concepts of death and dying and aspects of bereavement, including anger, fear. dreams and ways of remembering. Can be used as a basis for opening discussions between a bereaved child and adult.

Parents and carers

Talking about Death: a dialogue between parent and child

Earl Grollman (1991) Beacon Press

This guide to helping children cope with death includes an illustrated, read-along story, and discusses coping with a child's anger, denial, or guilt, and how to discuss funerals, cemetaries, and grief. It includes advice from parents and acknowledges that they may be grieving too.

Grief and Bereavement: understanding children
Ann Couldrick (1989) Sobell Publications

A brief guide to how children are likely to understand death and how to explain it to them, with suggestions for further sources of support.

Caring for Bereaved Children
Mary Bending (1993) Cruse Bereavement Care

Offers insights into the ways children grieve from birth to adolescence, and suggests ways of helping.

Grief in Children: a handbook for adults
Atle Dyregov (1991) Jessica Kingsley Publications

This book covers a range of bereavement experiences, covering different types of death, bereavement at different ages and differences in the way boys and girls may grieve. Makes suggestions for looking after children's needs. Also includes a chapter on bereavement groups for children.

Helping children cope with separation and loss
Claudia Jewett Jarrett (1994) Harvard Common Press

Discussing the need to help children regain self-esteem and self-control after a bereavement, this book covers breeaking bad news to children, separation reactions and seeking meaning.

A Child's Grief
Diana Crossley and Julie Stokes (2001) Winston's Wish

This information booklet for adults supporting children though bereavement covers a variety of issues which may affect a child and offers practical suggestions and activities.

Beyond the Rough Rock: supporting a child who has been bereaved through suicide
Diana Crossley and Julie Stokes (2001) Winston's Wish

An information booklet ofering practical advice for families where someone has died  by suicide, aiming to give parents and professionals the confidence to involve children in discussions about the nature of death by suicide. Includes activities for the child to do with the family to start making sense of what has happened.

Schools and other settings

Grief in School Communities: effective support strategies

Louise Rowling (2003) Open University Press

This book aims to help individuals and school communities to create environments in which grief, while a difficult experience, is seen as a normal life event. It demonstrates the components in a school that can be used to support grieving individuals in times of personal crisis and to support whole school communities when traumatic incidents occur.

Childhood Bereavement: developing the curriculum and pastoral support

Gill Frances and Nina Job (2004) National Children's Bureau

Covering areas in the curriculum where death and bereavement can be introduced, this book also discusses ways of supporting bereaved pupils. It draws on good practice from a variety of schools, including a special school, and gives a selection of lesson plans.

The Forgotten Mourners. Guidelines for working with bereaved children

Susan C Smith (1999) Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Aimed at teachers and social workers, this book outlines children's grieving at different ages , discusses secondary losses, and outlines some of the useful techniques which the adults around them can use in support.

About childhood bereavement

Children and Grief: when a parent dies

William Worden (2001) Guilford Press

The volume presents major findings from the Harvard Child Bereavement Study and places them in the context of previous research, covering the wide range of normal variation in children's experience of grief and the factors that put bereaved children at risk. The book compares parentally bereaved children with those bereaved of a sibling or who have experienced divorce, exploring similarities and differences between these losses. A concluding section explores the clinical implications of the findings and includes a review of intervention models and activities, as well as a screening instrument designed to help identify high-risk bereaved children.


Healing Children's Grief: Surviving a parent's death from cancer

Grace Christ (2000) Oxford University Press Inc, USA

Using qualitative analytic methods, this book identifies five developmentally derived age groups that clarify important differences in children's grief and mourning processes, in their understanding of events, their interactions with families, and their varying needs for help and support. The author gives numerous examples of the ways parents and extended family interacted with the children, and also the ways that professionals, friends, and many others help families deal with this experience.

About childhood bereavement services

Interventions with Bereaved Children

Susan C Smith and Margaret Pennells (1995) Jessica Kingsley Publishers

A wide variety of practitioners and researchers in childhood bereavement have contributed in areas of individual work, family work, groupwork including residential models and work with specific groups including secondary school pupils, children with learning disabilities and children bereaved through the Hillsborough football tragedy.

Then, Now and Always: supporting bereaved children as they journey through grief

Julie Stokes (2004) Winston's Wish

This guide for practitioners covers about the practical and theoretical aspects of running a community-based, child bereavement support service, giving specific details about the work of Winston's Wish, based in Gloucestershire.

Brief Interventions with Bereaved Children

Barbara Monroe and Frances Kraus (eds) (2004) Oxford University Press

This book addresses and explains the theoretical concepts and practical implications behind the idea of brief work with bereaved children and families. Flexible and accessible short term services delivered at the right time underpin the strengths of bereaved children, supporting their recovery rather than pathologising the grief process. The book covers a range of interventions aiming to support children and families' resilience.

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