Thursday, October 11, 2012

Great Picture Books for Loss

Recently I learned about Bibliotherapy, or an expressive therapy that uses an individual's relationship to the content of books and poetry and other written words as therapy. I think this is at the very foundation of our children's growth into adults. The more they read (and we read to them), the more well-rounded and intelligent adults we hope they will become. This is essentially bibliotherapy, although most may believe it only focuses on life's major events and changes. I believe every one of these topics is essential to creating and nourishing good human beings. Here is a good website for many bibliotherapy topics and related childrens' books:

We are fortunate to not have yet h
ad loss and death come too closely to our family, but we are recently familiar with losing a family dog.  We do often find the children asking us about where are Daddy's grandparents or Grandpa's parents?  These questions can only be answered by discussing death and what that means.  

We also have a precocious five year old who says things like,"When I die, I will come back as a baby."  He is a very deep thinker.  He randomly came out with statements like these long before introducing any of these books to him.  It has been very good for him to have a deeper knowledge of death and life.

The finality of never seeing their cousins' dog again was difficult to explain.  It has certainly been interesting with a 2 and a 5 year old (and my nieces and nephews, ages 2-7).  These books have helped both of my kids to somewhat grasp the topic of loss or death at their own level of understanding.  

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children 
by Bryan Melloni and Robert Ingpen
It begins, "There is a beginning and ending for everything that is alive. In between is living." The book is about the circle of life.  A wonderful, simple way to introduce this subject to young children.  There is even a video on YouTube that reads this book.

Grandma's Gone to Live in the Stars 
by Max Haynes 
Very simple, but wonderful little book told through Grandma's perspective as she says goodbye.

Death in a Nut 

retold by Eric Maddern and illustrated by Paul Hess
A little more abstract and silly book, but it is really about showing kids the importance of being okay with death.  It is based on a Scottish folktale and takes place on a farm.  Beware it has some graphic ideas of how animals may die or be injured.  This is not depicted in the pictures and not really in the text, but some things are implied.  Despite this, I still love this story.

Ghost Wings 
by Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Giselle Potter 
A beautiful story about a little girl who loses her grandmother.  This book is of special interest to me because I went to school with the author's daughter.  But it is a wonderful story about holding the memories close to your heart.

Always and Forever 
by Alan Durant, illustrated by Debi Gliori
Another great book about holding onto the special memories.  Told through the perspective of animals: 
Mole, Hare, Otter and Squirrel.

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death 
by Laurie Krasny Brown, illustrated by Marc Brown
Not really a story, but attempts to answer some very deep and profound questions.  It may be more well-suited for ages 5 and up, but my nearly-3-year-old has asked many of these questions.  And you know the need answers from their all-knowing parents.  Here are the answers. 

And What Comes After a Thousand 
by Annette Bley
Beautiful, playful illustrations won me over (and I think the kids, too).  But the story is even sweeter.

There are also a number of excellent books specifically about the loss of a pet:

Dog Heaven or Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant

Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas

I'll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm

The Legend of Rainbow Bridge by William N. Britton

The Tenth Best Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst

We love new books at our house - if you love any literature on this topic that didn't make my list, please do share!

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