Coping with Death and Grieving

A few weeks ago, a woman came into the store where I work and asked me if I could recommend any books for her 4-year-old daughter about grieving. The little girl’s grandmother was very ill, and her mother wanted her to be prepared for when the worst eventually happened. We had very few books on hand that would help a small child deal with death, and worse still, they weren’t listed as books that could deal with death. I found one of my sources below, and that helped me find an appropriate book for my customer that left her relieved because she really had no idea how to begin to prepare her daughter for what was coming.

The list below will be, I hope, a good start for anyone in need of a book to deal with loss and can lead you to other appropriate books. I’ve separated out my selections by type and then by age appropriateness. For picture books, I’ve focused on helping parents find the right book to help their children under the age of 8 who deal with the loss of a parent or grandparent. For those 8 and up, I’ve focused more on the subject of losing a friend. These are books they can take home when they find themselves alone and unsure of what to do next. The list is a small sampling of books available on this subject, and most of my selections were located at the Port Washington Library. All were available throughout the Nassau Library System.

(For Parents)

Picture Books

(Ages 3-5)

98407Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs
by Tomie dePaola

G.P Putnam’s and Sons, 1973

Parents who are concerned about how to prepare their young children for the death of a grandparent will want to read this classic story of loss. Tommy wakes up one day and discovers that his “Nana Upstairs” is no longer with them. He learns what it means to lose a loved one and that they will always live with us in our memories.


51PFEVF2T2LPearl’s Marigolds for Grandpa by Jane Breskin Zalben
Simon & Schuster, 1997

Parents will find an excellent way to help children deal with the passing of a loved one in Pearl’s Marigolds for Grandpa. When Pearl loses her grandfather, she chooses to focus on all the good memories of him and continues doing the things she learned from him. Like gardening. She loves gardening and plants marigolds in loving memory using skills her grandfather taught her. In the back of the book, the author provides different customs from around the world for mourning loved ones.

(Ages 4+)


Rabbityness. by Jo Empson
Child’s Play, 2012.

For children, the loss of someone close creates a void in their lives. Rabbityness is the tale of a larger-than-life rabbit who fills everyone’s life with color and music. When Rabbit disappears, his friends must deal with the emptiness left in the wake of this event. Parents will be able to guide their children through this very tough time by helping them recognize what was so special about the person they lost. This will help inspire kids to discover what makes each of them special, so they can fill the void.

841110The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story Of Life For All Ages by Leo Buscaglia
SLACK Incorporated, 1982

Leo Buscaglia introduces us to a leaf named Freddie. Readers will follow Freddie through the changing seasons and learn, along with Freddie, the passage of time and what it means to lose one’s friends. Parents will find a wonderful analogy to explain to children what aging and death is, so they can learn to cope with the permanent loss of a loved one.

1095833A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes, Cary Pillo (Illustrator)
Magination Press, 2000.

Traumatic events are all over the news. But what do you do when your child witnesses or experienced tragedy firsthand? Holmes and Pillo have crafted a story of one such child who saw the most “terrible thing” and how he met someone he could talk to about it. Encouraging children to discuss their thoughts, fears, and concerns is a great step toward helping them feel better. At the end of the book, the creators provide parents with tools and resources to help them speak to their children and guide them through understanding their emotions.


14937350Missing Mommy: A Book About Bereavement
by Rebecca Cobb
Henry Holt and Company, 2013

Told from a child’s point of view, parents will find this story a great resource to teach children that the conflicting thoughts and emotions they feel, with the loss of a parent, are normal. A Book About Bereavement offers a positive outlook on life and reinforcement for children that they are not alone. That they still have family and friends who love and care for them very much.

(Ages 5-8)

11449551The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic,
Olivier Tallec (Illustrator)

Candlewick Press, 2011

A child can become overwhelmed with emotions when dealing with the loss of a parent. Anger at being “abandoned,” confusion about who will take care of them now, and how things will be taken care of. The Scar will help children experience these emotions through the eyes of another. Moundlic and Tallec do a wonderful job capturing the fear a child experiences in forgetting smells and the sound of a parent’s voice. This story ultimately leaves young readers with the lesson that one’s parents will always live on in their hearts, and this is what will help them deal with their pain and confusion.

(For Kids)



open-uri20150422-12561-1kj1nqt_76e5c5bbBridge to Terabithia. Screenplay by Jeff Stockwell and David Paterson. Book by Katherine Paterson
Walt Disney Video, 2007. 96 min.

Based on the Newbery award-winning novel by Katherine Paterson of the same name, this film offers a magical look at friendship and loss through Jess’ eyes. Losing a close friend suddenly, without warning, can be very scary and heartbreaking. Bridge to Terabithia guides you through this hard time of confusion, shock, even anger with a message of strength that offers a way to deal with tragic loss. Along with Jess, you’ll learn how you can honor your friendship and the memory of the one you lost.

Watch the Trailer:

MV5BYmU2NjI0ZTktM2E2Ni00YTMxLTg2NDMtMmIyYTQ4NTY0MWQ0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_Tuck Everlasting. Screenplay by Jeffrey Lieber and James V. Hart.  Book by Natalie Babbitt.
Walt Disney Video, 2002. 90 min.

Do you ever think about living forever? It sure is scary to think about life coming to an end. But it’s also normal. In Tuck Everlasting, based on Natalie Babbitt’s modern classic, fear of death is turned on its ear. This is a timeless tale that takes Winnie and her new friend Jesse, a boy who’s so full of life, on an adventure that could lead to everlasting life. But what’s really scarier: not living anymore or living and never getting to do what you want? This story explores the value of life and also what it means to no longer be alive. And there’s something else this story shows us ¾ that being sad, as bad as that feels, makes us aware of just how alive we are.

Watch the Trailer:



The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (Audio CD)

Hachette Audio, 2015.

How do you make sense of anything when your best friend is suddenly taken from you? Suzy is having a very hard time with this. Plus her parent’s are going through a divorce. Things are really tough, but more than anything, Suzy wants to know what happened to her friend. So she turns to science to look for clues. Benjamin’s story explores how Suzy deals with her loss and her emotions. It also shows how important it is to focus on the life of someone who’s gone instead of how they left us.

Non Fiction



Our Dad Died: The True Story of Three Kids Whose Lives Changed by Amy Dennison

Free Spirit Publishing, Inc., 2003.

Grieving can be a lonely experience for a kid. And adults might not get that. Or they might be too busy to notice the sadness. Inside the pages of Our Dad Died, you’ll find journal entries written by three kids who lost their father. You’ll read all their thoughts and everything they felt. Written by children, for children, you’ll learn that what you’re feeling is normal and that you aren’t alone. Comments and notes at the end of each chapter can help you and your parents share and express emotions.


What Makes a Good Picture Book About Loss?

64 Children’s Books About Death and Grief

Bookworm for Kids: Death, Dying, Grief, Loss

Books That Heal: Sharing Experiences and Finding Comfort

Why Did It Happen? Books to Help Kids Cope with Tragedy

Children’s Books about Death

Recommended Books About Death and Grief for Children and Adolescents

Great Books About “Dealing With Death”

Tower of Treasure: Graphic Novel for Kids


index1Tower of Treasure.
Written & Illustrated by Scott Chantler.
Kids Can Press. 2010. $7.95

Reading/Grade Level: Grade Level 3-4
Lexile Score: 400L

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

Summary:  14 year old acrobat Dessa gets pulled into a far fetched scheme to rob the Queens Treasury by her fellow circus members. Getting captured wasn’t part of the plan, but once they are, escape from the Queen’s guard and the city is their only hope. Now with a clue as to what happened to her family, Dessa sets off to find the one person who can tell her where her brother is.


Kirkus, July 15, 2010 (Vol. 78, No. 14)
In this lively opener to the Three Thieves series, young gymnast Dessa, searching for her kidnapped twin brother, joins two fellow circus performers in an attempted heist, a prison escape and a merry chase through and out of the fortress of Kingsbridge. Along the way she spots the kidnapper, who escapes her and so sets up a continuing plotline. Artfully using exchanged glances and wordless panels to add both humor and emotional depth, Chantler introduces a likable trio of thieves in a medieval-ish setting and throws in several worthy adversaries—including an intelligent, conflicted guard captain who spends much of the tale hot on their trail. He further spices things up by rendering Dessa’s companions as nonhuman: Topper, “the greatest thief in North Huntington,” is a small, blue, irascible gnome-like creature, and Fisk is a large, slow, lavender troll-like thing with a hairstyle ever-so-slightly reminiscent of the Human Torch’s. The banter among the three is sharp and witty and balances the visual pacing effortlessly. Fast paced, cleanly illustrated, great fun.

Booklist, Sep. 15, 2010 (Vol. 107, No. 2)
With Northwest Passage (2007), Chantler proved he could balance great cartooning with a layered historical adventure. Here, he sets his sights a little lower with an appealing but incomplete-feeling first book in the Three Thieves graphic-novel series. A young tightrope walker named Dessa joins up (somewhat reluctantly) with two circus mates to stage a raid on a store of royal treasure. What follows is a nice trap-evading infiltration sequence and daring escape, but this book mostly serves to introduce the main players, including Dessa s companions a blue-skinned, gnomish pickpocket and a huge one-headed Ettin (multiheaded Ettins unseen) and a few adversaries. Chantler displays a nice grasp of visual pacing for both humor and action sequences, and his artwork is clear, confident, and richly colored. Although Dessa and her mates are only outfitted with the somewhat standard rapport of squabbling fantasy-adventure heroes, deeper character issues are hinted at. A promising start; with the groundwork now laid, we ll see where the real story goes.

Best Books for Kids & Teens, 2011
Starred Review. An acrobat in a travelling circus, 14-year-old orphan Dessa Redd, is looking for her long-lost twin brother. Hungry and desperate, she and Fisk, the circus strongman, are recruited by Topper, the circus juggler, to rob the royal treasury. A series of adventures ensue as the three thieves travel from one end of the world to the other in search of Dessa s brother. Book One in the series.


2012 – Alberta Children’s Choice Rocky Mountain Book Award, Short-listed
2011 – Outstanding Comic Book Cartoonist, Joe Shuster Awards, Short-listed
2011 – Comics for Kids, Joe Shuster Awards, Winner
2011 – Best Books for Kids & Teens, Starred Selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre,

tumblr_my64trTuFz1s6v9yyo1_400Tie in for a public Library Program

When thinking of a program that can encourage kids who read graphic novels to participate, my first instinct is to encourage them to create their own comics. They can start with character creation. Writing a back story for their creation. Then they can write or draw their story. This opens up an opportunity to have children collaborate with others n character and story creation where a kid who can draw or shows an interest in art handles the artistic aspect and the other writes the story. They can learn how to lay out a story, creating a storyboard and script. Finished creations can be added to a special collection in the library for future kid patrons to check out.

Fantasy/Adventure Read-alikes:

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Knife’s Edge, by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock
Hilda, by Luke Pearson
The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo, by Drew Weing
Space Battle Lunchtime, by Natalie Riess
Amulet Series by Kazu Kibuishi
Three Thieves by Scott Chantler


The Tower of Treasure, part of The Three Thieves series is a great adventure story for kids. It has a main protagonist who is a 14 year old, who is very capable and smart. Scott Chantler’s script for the book is very easy to follow. His artwork is fun and leads the reader along through the adventure. Characters like Topper the thief give a sense of comic relief to the story with his wild schemes. A lot of the artwork has the characters react slowly giving the reader a chance to fill in their own interpretation on whats happening. I would recommend this to any 3rd grader looking for a fun fast paced adventure story.



An Introduction to Graphic Novels for Children

Reviews taken from: Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database Company(CLCD)


Apps and Library Services


I chose Hennig (2014) because it offers a view of how to select and evaluate apps for use in libraries from someone who has a background in user experience and has worked in educating librarians in implementing mobile devices into there daily programming for 14 years.

She stresses that librarians shouldn’t just use quality reviews from trusted professional journals, that librarians should seek to write reviews themselves for the benefit of their peers and have them published in those same sources they rely on; reviews like the ones we read in School Library Journal in this weeks reading assignments. They can use ALA/RUSA CODES Elements for Basic Reviews as a guide of what to look for, with some additions including: functionality, who the app is meant for, design, simplicity of use, features for the disabled, playfulness and how it fits in to the library environment compared to other apps of a similar nature.

She offers some good resources for where to find trustworthy reviews such as: AppAdvice Applists, Android App Review, Beautiful Pixels, Best Android App series in The Guardian, MacWorld App reviews to name a few. Te article also has ideas for how Apps can fit in a library environment such as creating a website specifically for recommending apps to your community, loaning tablets loaded with recommended apps, as well as hosting local experts to teach your community about the use of apps. Librarians can encourage their users to become content creators. Apps offer a rich environment of possibilities and librarians should stay educated on current trends with an eye towards the future.



Hennig, N. (2014). Selecting and evaluating the best mobile apps for library services. Library Technology Reports, 50(8), 1-30.

Intellectual Freedom


According to the American Library Association, the Library Bill of Rights guarantees intellectual freedom for individuals, regardless of age, origin, background, or views (2006b). For children librarians, intellectual freedom is a core value because it is their responsibility to provide a variety of materials without censorship. A librarian’s responsibility when it come to information is to make sure children have the same privilege as any other adult, and to restrict them of that goes against their right to read. Otherwise, how else would children be able to make educated decisions (American Library Association, n.d.)?

The restriction of certain materials from circulating in libraries, particularly public libraries, is nothing new. Censorship is regarded as one of the leading challenges that limits intellectual freedom. However, it is important to note that 40% of the individuals who demand material to be removed or censored from the library are parents (Molly, 2016). Parents may have the right to “protect” their children from materials that conflict with their core values, they can not force their beliefs onto others by restricting their access to materials they disagree with. This is not just limiting the intellectual freedom of children but it is also a violation of the child’s First Amendment rights. Therefore children librarians must be advocates for children’s intellectual freedom and protect and defend the right of every child to select any material or seek any information that they desire.

Below is a annotated list of resources recommended for children librarians to read, learn, or explore Intellectual Freedom and the current issue at hand.

American Library Association. (n.d.). Kids, Know Your Rights [PDF]. Retrieved from

This particular resource provides a detailed guide about Intellectual Freedom for kids. Not only does it provide a basic definition of a their rights, describes the challenges that occur to the First Amendment as well as how children can defend their right to read. Professionals will find this online document useful for its suggestive titles surrounding the idea of Intellectual Freedom and printer-friendly format for distribution.

American Library Association. (2006). The Freedom to Read Statement. Retrieved from

According to the ALA and the Association of American Publishers, the freedom to read is an essential right for everyone which is guaranteed by the Constitution. This resource goes into detail about an individual’s given power to express themselves, to communicate, and enrich in information that he or she wish to seek. Librarians will find this statement practical with the propositions written, enabling them to reaffirm the assertion or guidelines in Intellectual Freedom.

American Library Association. (2006). Library Bill of Rights. Retrieved from

Adopted by the American Library Association Council, this resource is an essential policy on the Library Bill of Rights. These statements are considered the basic principles that should be followed in every library. This document allows a librarian to reflect on his or her goals and for users to be reminded of their rights to Intellectual Freedom.

Brown, N. (2015, October 1). Q&A: Patrons Ask; Librarians Answer: Will you really let my kid read whatever they want [Blog Post]? Retrieved from

Nichole Brown is a “mild mannered” librarian who provides an insight for a situation she faced when a parent heard that a child can read whatever he wants. Although this resource is a blog post from a public library, there are references from the ALA website about Intellectual Freedom. With a humorous tone, Brown offers other children librarians ideas, advice, and recommendation of books on this sensitive topic.


3rd Book Review: The Giver



The Giver. Written by Lois Lowry
Delacorte Press. 1993. 179 pages. $8.99

Imagine a world of no color. No individuality. No emotion. Where your every thought has been shaped from birth to create no conflict. The Giver, by Lois Lowry and winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal, takes us to a world quite different from our world. A seemingly perfect world of no poverty, no war, and no sickness. Jonas nervously awaits the Ceremony of Twelve–a time for celebration as he and others will be assigned their role for the rest of their lives. A role that will help them contribute to their Community.

Jonas is stunned when he is announced to be the next Receiver of Memory and partnered with the previous Receiver, now the Giver for training. As his training as the new Receiver begins, Jonas finds himself experiencing new thoughts and emotions, previously unheard of and considered forbidden in the Community. With his new knowledge of the world and ability to see the differences in the world around him he discovers  terrifying secret of their society that fills him with pain and anger. Disillusioned of living in a society that he feels betrayed, Jonas, with help from the Giver plots this escape.

Lowry crafts an amazing tale that that eloquently captures the angst and pain of young people as they experience new thoughts and emotions for the first time and aid them on those first steps of self discovery and the importance of individuality. Parents will want to read along not just to read this thoroughly enjoyable story but to discuss any questions that young readers have about what awaits them in the future.

Reflecting on reading Extra Yarn


Extra Yarn. Written by Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (Illustrator).
HarperCollins Publishers, NY. 2012. $17.99.

Having never read a book out loud I really had no idea how I would do during this assignment, but I had a really good audience of “3-5” year old kids to read to.

Extra Yarn was easy to read because I really enjoyed the folk tale quality of the story and wanted to share that. The spunky little Annabelle who didn’t let anything get to her–who confronted bullies with kindness–was a pleasant surprise in this story. That folktale aspect was my focus when practicing reading this out loud. getting that voice of the narrator and separating them out from Annabelle and the “villains” of the story. But in order to due that my final reading came out as very quiet and calm. My source for engaging with the audience was picking out those areas in the book–the two page spread of the village covered in sweaters and the box floating away to name two–to give the audience a break from the story so they could see the artwork and use their imaginations to predict the next event.

Based on the feedback I received, the calmness and those areas where I stopped to ask the listeners their thoughts worked and I was able to keep the audience engaged. However, next time I’ll take a look at the story closer next time. Due to the length of the story this wasn’t appropriate for a group of 3-5 year olds but would be better suited for 4-8 years olds. For a story like this I would have had to break the images down for the children and re crate the story so that it went by faster before I lost their attention. I also went into it wanted to explain what an Archduke was, or just rename him to something simpler but nerves got the better of me and I completely skipped that. In the future I’ll need to break the stories down a bit better before reading so that I have a back up plan in place.


Comparing Sibert and NCSS award winners

ypl_woodson_Brown_Girl_DreamingNamed after Robert F. Sibert, the Sibert Informational Book Medal is an annual award for the best informational book published in the U.S.. NCSS (National Council for the Social Studies) books, written primarily for children in grades K-8, are selected for their emphasis on human relations which are easily readable and offer a unique perspective on their topic. Bomb, written by Steve Sheinkin, was the 2013 Sibert Medal winner and Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson was a Notable Social Studies Trade Book selection by the NCSS in 2015. Both books couldn’t be much difference from one another. One focuses on the creation and aftermath of the atomic bomb and the other is an autobiography.


If viewed using the evaluation criteria discussed in Horning (2010) and Vardell (2014), Bombboth are strikingly similar. Bomb follows events in a linear fashion and is written in a narrative style and is organized into chapters that separate the story into easy digestible chunks. Brown Girl Dreaming is written as if it’s a poem that follows the life of the author from birth onward. Both authors could be considered authorities on the subject they write in—Woodson writing her own autobiography using anecdotes related to her form her family members who were present at the time and Sheinkin has written many history books for children throughout his career and did extensive research as is shown in the detailed bibliography located in the back of the book. Finally, the imagery in both keeps with the subject of writing about the past and feature black and white photos of the people mentioned in the book for easy reference.



Vardell, S. (2014). Children’s literature in action: A librarian’s guide (Second ed.). Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

Horning, K. T. (2010). From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books (Revised ed.). New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Sheinkin, S., Colvin, J. (2012). Bomb: The race to build–and steal–the world’s most dangerous weapon. Roaring Brook Press & R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company.

Woodson, J. (2014). Brown girl dreaming. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books