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Death, Grief, And Bereavement: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about death, grief, and bereavement?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to death, grief, and bereavement. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about death, grief, and bereavement.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

We hope this list of kids books about death, grief, and bereavement can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Bridge to Terabithia
Written by Katherine Paterson & illustrated by Donna Diamond
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

All summer, Jess pushed himself to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade, and when the year’s first school-yard race was run, he was going to win.But his victory was stolen by a newcomer, by a girl, one who didn’t even know enough to stay on the girls’ side of the playground. Then, unexpectedly, Jess finds himself sticking up for Leslie, for the girl who breaks rules and wins races. The friendship between the two grows as Jess guides the city girl through the pitfalls of life in their small, rural town, and Leslie draws him into the world of imaginations world of magic and ceremony called Terabithia. Here, Leslie and Jess rule supreme among the oaks and evergreens, safe from the bullies and ridicule of the mundane world. Safe until an unforeseen tragedy forces Jess to reign in Terabithia alone, and both worlds are forever changed. In this poignant, beautifully rendered novel, Katherine Paterson weaves a powerful story of friendship and courage.

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The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
Written by Dan Gemeinhart
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Sometimes a story comes along that just plain makes you want to hug the world. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is Dan Gemeinhart’s finest book yet – and that’s saying something. Your heart needs this joyful miracle of a book. –Katherine Applegate, acclaimed author of The One and Only Ivan and Wishtree A 2020 ILA Teachers’ Choice A 2019 Parents’ Choice Award Gold Medal Winner Winner of the 2019 CYBILS Award for Middle Grade FictionAn Amazon Top 20 Children’s Book of 2019 A Junior Library Guild Selection Five years. That’s how long Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, have lived on the road in an old school bus, criss-crossing the nation. It’s also how long ago Coyote lost her mom and two sisters in a car crash. Coyote hasn’t been home in all that time, but when she learns that the park in her old neighborhood is being demolished–the very same park where she, her mom, and her sisters buried a treasured memory box–she devises an elaborate plan to get her dad to drive 3,600 miles back to Washington state in four days…without him realizing it. Along the way, they’ll pick up a strange crew of misfit travelers. Lester has a lady love to meet. Salvador and his mom are looking to start over. Val needs a safe place to be herself. And then there’s Gladys… Over the course of thousands of miles, Coyote will learn that going home can sometimes be the hardest journey of all…but that with friends by her side, she just might be able to turn her “once upon a time” into a “happily ever after.” This title has common core connections.

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The Boy and the Gorilla
Written by Jackie Azúa Kramer & illustrated by Cindy Derby
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This profoundly moving tale about a grieving boy and an imaginary gorilla makes real the power of talking about loss. On the day of his mother’s funeral, a young boy conjures the very visitor he needs to see: a gorilla. Wise and gentle, the gorilla stays on to answer the heart-heavy questions the boy hesitates to ask his father: Where did his mother go? Will she come back home? Will we all die? Yet with the gorilla’s friendship, the boy slowly begins to discover moments of comfort in tending flowers, playing catch, and climbing trees. Most of all, the gorilla knows that it helps to simply talk about the loss–especially with those who share your grief and who may feel alone, too. Author Jackie Azúa Kramer’s quietly thoughtful text and illustrator Cindy Derby’s beautiful impressionistic artwork depict how this tender relationship leads the boy to open up to his father and find a path forward. Told entirely in dialogue, this direct and deeply affecting picture book will inspire conversations about grief, empathy, and healing beyond the final hope-filled scene.

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Five Feet Apart
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-18

Also a major motion picture starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson! Goodreads Choice Winner, Best Young Adult Fiction of 2019 In this #1 New York Times bestselling novel that’s perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, two teens fall in love with just one minor complication–they can’t get within a few feet of each other without risking their lives. Can you love someone you can never touch? Stella Grant likes to be in control–even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions. The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals. Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella, she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment. What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

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The Night Diary
Written by Veera Hiranandani
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary.

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  • Patron Saints of Nothing - A NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST Brilliant, honest, and equal parts heartbreaking and soul-healing. –Laurie Halse Anderson, author of SHOUT A singular voice in the world of literature. –Jason Reynolds, author of Long Way Down A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder. Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story. Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth – and the part he played in it. As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.

  • Mockingbird - Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.

  • The Hate U Give - 8 starred reviews - Goodreads Choice Awards Best of the Best - William C. Morris Award Winner - National Book Award Longlist - Printz Honor Book - Coretta Scott King Honor Book - #1 New York Times Bestseller!Absolutely riveting! –Jason ReynoldsStunning. –John GreenThis story is necessary. This story is important. –Kirkus (starred review)Heartbreakingly topical. –Publishers Weekly (starred review)A marvel of verisimilitude. –Booklist (starred review)A powerful, in-your-face novel. –Horn Book (starred review)Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does–or does not–say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.Want more of Garden Heights? Catch Maverick and Seven’s story in Concrete Rose, Angie Thomas’s powerful prequel to The Hate U Give.

  • The Canyon's Edge - Hatchet meets Long Way Down in this heartfelt and gripping novel in verse about a young girl’s struggle for survival after a climbing trip with her father goes terribly wrong. One year after a random shooting changed their family forever, Nora and her father are exploring a slot canyon deep in the Arizona desert, hoping it will help them find peace. Nora longs for things to go back to normal, like they were when her mother was still alive, while her father keeps them isolated in fear of other people. But when they reach the bottom of the canyon, the unthinkable happens: A flash flood rips across their path, sweeping away Nora’s father and all of their supplies. Suddenly, Nora finds herself lost and alone in the desert, facing dehydration, venomous scorpions, deadly snakes, and, worst of all, the Beast who has terrorized her dreams for the past year. If Nora is going to save herself and her father, she must conquer her fears, defeat the Beast, and find the courage to live her new life.

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Glitter Gets Everywhere
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

This debut novel is a poignant exploration of grief, change, and hope, perfect for fans of Lisa Graff and Lindsey Stoddard. After Kitty’s mother dies on an inappropriately sunny Tuesday, all Kitty wants is for her life to go back to “normal”–whatever that will mean without her mum. Instead, her dad announces that he, Kitty, and her sister are moving from their home in London to New York City, and Kitty will need to say goodbye to the places and people that help keep her mother’s memory alive. New York is every bit as big and bustling as Kitty’s heard, and as she adjusts to life there and befriends a blue-haired boy, she starts to wonder if her memories of her mum don’t need to stay in one place–if there’s a way for them to be with Kitty every day, everywhere.

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When You Trap a Tiger
Written by Tae Keller
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother. Some stories refuse to stay bottled up… When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal–return what her grandmother stole in exchange for Halmoni’s health–Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice…and the courage to face a tiger. Tae Keller, the award-winning author of The Science of Breakable Things, shares a sparkling tale about the power of stories and the magic of family. Think Walk Two Moons meets Where the Mountain Meets the Moon! “If stories were written in the stars … this wondrous tale would be one of the brightest.” –Booklist, Starred Review

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Love from A to Z
Written by S. K. Ali
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 14-18

“The bighearted, wildly charming, painfully real love story I’ve been waiting for.” –Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda “Heartfelt and powerful.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review) From William C. Morris Award Finalist S.K. Ali comes an unforgettable romance that is The Sun Is Also a Star meets Anna and the French Kiss, following two Muslim teens who meet during a spring break trip. A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes–because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together. An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are. But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry. When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break. Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her. Then her path crosses with Adam’s. Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister. Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father. Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals. Until a marvel and an oddity occurs… Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting. Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

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The Light in the Lake
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Go on a journey of discovery, magic, science, and hope with this remarkable debut novel about a girl’s powerful connection to a mysterious lake. Twelve-year-old Addie should stay away from Maple Lake. After all, her twin brother, Amos, drowned there only a few months ago. But its crisp, clear water runs in Addie’s veins, and the notebook Amos left behind – filled with clues about a mysterious creature that lives in the lake’s inky-blue depths – keeps calling her back. So despite her parents’ fears, Addie accepts a Young Scientist position studying the lake for the summer, promising she’ll stick to her job of measuring water pollution levels under adult supervision. Still, Addie can’t resist the secrets of Maple Lake. She enlists the lead researcher’s son, Tai, to help her investigate Amos’s clues. As they collect evidence, they also learn that Maple Lake is in trouble – and the source of the pollution might be close to home. Addie finds herself caught between the science she has always prized and the magic that brings her closer to her brother, and the choice she makes will change everything.

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All the Bright Places
Written by Jennifer Niven
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 14-18

NOW A NETFLIX FILM, STARRING ELLE FANNING AND JUSTICE SMITH! The New York Times bestselling love story about two teens who find each other while standing on the edge. And don’t miss Take Me with You When You Go, Jennifer Niven’s highly anticipated new book with bestselling author David Levithan! Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for–and manages to find–something to keep him here, and alive, and awake. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school–six stories above the ground– it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . . “A do-not-miss for fans of Eleanor & Park and The Fault in Our Stars, and basically anyone who can breathe.” –Justine Magazine “At the heart–a big one–of All the Bright Places lies a charming love story about this unlikely and endearing pair of broken teenagers.” –The New York Times Book Review “A heart-rending, stylish love story.” –The Wall Street Journal “A complex love story that will bring all the feels.” –Seventeen Magazine “Impressively layered, lived-in, and real.” –Buzzfeed

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  • Tuesdays with Morrie - Finally available in paperback–the first runaway #1 bestseller and modern inspirational classic by the bestselling author of The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Albom tells the story of his reconnection with his college professor and mentor, Morrie Schwartz, and their visits in the months prior to Morrie’s death.

  • The Truth about Forever - Macy’s summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development. But Macy’s plans don’t anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or … Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn’t fit Macy’s life at all–so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So … happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before he eyes the year before? Sarah Dessen delivers a page-turning novel that carries readers on a roller coaster of denial, grief, comfort, and love as we watch a broken but resilient girl pick up the pieces of her life and fit them back together.

  • Emily of New Moon - From the author of Anne of Green Gables, the first book of the beloved Emily trilogy–recently seen on Netflix’s hit show Russian Doll! Emily Starr never knew what it was to be lonely–until her beloved father died. Now Emily’s an orphan, and her snobbish relatives are taking her to live with them at New Moon Farm. Although she’s sure she’ll never be happy there, Emily deals with her stern aunt Elizabeth and her malicious classmates by using her quick wit and holding her head high. In this first volume of the celebrated Emily trilogy, Lucy Maud Montgomery draws a more realistic portrait of a young orphan girl’s life on early twentieth-century Prince Edward Island. Along with Emily Climbs and Emily’s Quest, Emily of New Moon insightfully portrays the beauty and anguish of growing up.

  • The Astonishing Color of After - A Time Magazine 100 Best YA Books of All Time Selection A stunning, heartbreaking debut novel about grief, love, and family, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Celeste Ng. Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird. Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life. Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love. “Emily X.R. Pan’s brilliantly crafted, harrowing first novel portrays the vast spectrum of love and grief with heart-wrenching beauty and candor. This is a very special book.”–John Green, bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down

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If You Come Softly
Written by Jacqueline Woodson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-18

Both Elisha (Ellie) and Jeremiah (Miah) attend Percy Academy, a private school where neither quite fits in. Ellie is wrestling with family demons, and Miah is one of the few African American students. The two of them find each other, and fall in love – but they are hesitant to share their newfound happiness with their friends and families, who will not understand. At the end, life makes the brutal choice for them: Jeremiah is shot and killed, and Ellie now has to cope with the consequences..

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Listening for Lions
Written by Gloria Whelan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A critically acclaimed historical novel “that roars” (Kliatt), from the author of the National Book Award-winning novel Homeless Bird. Africa is the only home Rachel Sheridan has ever known. But when her missionary parents are struck with influenza, she is left vulnerable to her family’s malicious neighbors. Surrounded by greed and lies, Rachel is entangled in a criminal scheme and sent to England, where she’s forced into a life of deception.Like the lion, she must be patient and strong, awaiting the moment when she can take control of her own fate–and find her way home again at last. Named one of New York Public Library’s One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, this tale of a strong young heroine “in the tradition of Frances Hodgson Burnett” (School Library Journal), by award-winning master of historical fiction Gloria Whelan, is a perfect read for schools and classrooms, as well as for fans of A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.

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I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Written by Erika L. Sánchez
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 14-18

National Book Award Finalist!Instant New York Times Bestseller! The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian meets Jane the Virgin in this poignant but often laugh-out-loud funny contemporary YA about losing a sister and finding yourself amid the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican-American home. Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed. But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal? “Alive and crackling–a gritty tale wrapped in a page-turner. “–The New York Times “Unique and fresh.” –Entertainment Weekly “A standout.” –NPR

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The Boy in the Black Suit
Written by Jason Reynolds
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-18

A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book. Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more–and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down–in this “vivid, satisfying, and ultimately upbeat tale of grief, redemption, and grace” (Kirkus Reviews) from the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe Award-winning author of When I Was the Greatest. Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died–although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. Crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy stuff than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness–and who can maybe even help take it away.

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Kira-Kira
Written by Cynthia Kadohata
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-15

kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining

Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister Lynn makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people s eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare. And it’s Lynn who with her special way of viewing the world teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill and the whole family begins to fall apart it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering – kira-kira – in the future.

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  • Elsewhere - Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice. Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward? This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

  • Before I Fall - Like Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End and Colleen Hoover’s It Ends with Us, Before I Fall raises thought-provoking questions about love, death, and how one person’s life can affect so many others. With this stunning debut novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver emerged as one of today’s foremost authors of young adult fiction. For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12–Cupid Day–should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.Before I Fall is now a major motion picture Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, and Kian Lawley. Named to numerous state reading lists, the novel was also recognized as a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Daily Beast, NPR, and Publishers Weekly.

  • Thirteen Reasons Why - THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL, NOW A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES The #1 New York Times bestseller and modern classic that’s been changing lives for a decade gets a gorgeous revamped cover and never-before-seen additional content, including: - An introduction from its award-winning author, Jay Asher; - The until-now-secret alternate ending for Hannah and Clay that almost was; - Early notes and ideas of how the story came to be; - Deleted scenes; - And more! You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play. Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever. Need to talk? Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime if you are in the United States. It’s free and confidential.Find more resources at 13reasonswhy.info. Find out how you can help someone in crisis at bethe1to.com.

  • The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook - In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, convinced he can only get better at home with them, Oona tells Fred the story of Zook’s previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook’s lives has echoes in Oona’s own family life, which is going through a transition she’s not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylanùwhom Oona secretly calls ôthe villain.ö The truth about Dylan, and about Zook’s medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story.

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The Lovely Bones
Written by Alice Sebold
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 14-18

When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn’t happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.

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The Shack
Written by William Paul Young
chapter book
Recommend Ages: -

After his daughter’s murder, a grieving father confronts God with desperate questions – and finds unexpected answers – in this riveting and deeply moving #1 NYT bestseller. When Mackenzie Allen Phillips’s youngest daughter Missy is abducted during a family vacation, he remains hopeful that she’ll return home. But then, he discovers evidence that she may have been brutally murdered in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in this midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note that’s supposedly from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment, he arrives on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change his life forever.

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Dance Like a Leaf
Written by AJ Irving & illustrated by Claudia Navarro
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

As her grandmother’s health declines, a young girl begins to lovingly take the lead in their cozy shared autumn traditions. Poetic prose paired with evocative illustrations by Mexican illustrator Claudia Navarro make for a beautiful celebration of life and a gentle introduction to the death of a loved one.

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Calling the Water Drum
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

The story of a young Haitian boy who loses his parents as they attempt to flee Haiti in a boat, and after this loss can only communicate with the outside world through playing his drum. Henri and his parents leave their homeland, Haiti, after they receive an invitation from an uncle to come to New York City. Only able to afford a small, rickety boat, the family sets out in the middle of the night in search of a better life. Out at sea, Henri dreams of what life will be like across the great waters.Then the small boat overturns, and Henri is placed on top of the boat as his parents drift further out at sea. Overcome with grief, Henri retreats into himself and is no longer able to speak once he reaches land. Encouraged by his uncle and neighbor, Henri takes a bucket and plays on it like a drum. The drumming becomes a link to his past and a conduit for his emotions. Slowly, through his drumming and the kindness of his uncle and friend, Henri learns to navigate this new and foreign world without his parents.Calling the Water Drum is a tender and beautiful tribute to the resiliency of children and the human spirit.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Written by Jesse Andrews
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 14-18

New York Times Bestseller The book that inspired the hit film! Sundance U.S. Dramatic Audience Award Sundance Grand Jury Prize This is the funniest book you’ll ever read about death. It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl. This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life.Praise for Me and Earl and the Dying GirlSTARRED REVIEW “One need only look at the chapter titles (“Let’s Just Get This Embarrassing Chapter Out of the Way”) to know that this is one funny book.” -Booklist, starred reviewSTARRED REVIEW “A frequently hysterical confessional…Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable and sympathetic, however fiercely he professes his essential crappiness as a human being. Though this novel begs inevitable thematic comparisons to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (2011), it stands on its own in inventiveness, humor and heart.” -Kirkus Reviews, starred review “It is sure to be popular with many boys, including reluctant readers, and will not require much selling on the part of the librarian.” -VOYA “Mr. Andrews’ often hilarious teen dialogue is utterly convincing, and his characters are compelling. Greg’s random sense of humor, terrible self-esteem and general lack of self-awareness all ring true. Like many YA authors, Mr. Andrews blends humor and pathos with true skill, but he steers clear of tricky resolutions and overt life lessons, favoring incremental understanding and growth.” -Pittsburgh Post-GazetteAwards: Capitol Choices 2013 - Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices 2013 list - Young Adult Fiction YALSA 2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers YALSA 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults YALSA 2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

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  • My Brother Sam Is Dead - The classic story of one family torn apart by the Revolutionary WarAll his life, Tim Meeker has looked up to his brother Sam. Sam’s smart and brave – and is now a part of the American Revolution. Not everyone in town wants to be a part of the rebellion. Most are supporters of the British – including Tim and Sam’s father. With the war soon raging, Tim know he’ll have to make a choice – between the Revolutionaries and the Redcoats . . . and between his brother and his father.

  • The Fix-It Man - It’s handy having a dad who can fix just about anything. A young girl believes her father is the king of fixing things. But following the death of her mother, she discovers that broken hearts are not as easy to repair as damaged toys and cracked teapots. Together, she and her father find a way to glue back the pieces of her lives. The Fix-It Man is a poignant picture book that explores how a child can cope with the loss of a parent (in this case, the young girl’s mother). Repairing damaged emotions is not as straightforward as gluing a broken kite back together or sewing up a torn toy. And grief affects all members of a family, with each responding in their own way to the loss. By sticking with her father, the young girl is able to strengthen her resilience and ability to cope with one of life’s harshest experiences. The author was encouraged to seek publication for this story after receiving the endorsement of several grief counsellors who work with children and who recognised the need for a book such as this.

  • And Still They Bloom: A Family's Journey of Loss and Healing - Winner: 2013 National Health Information Award, Silver; 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Children’s Picture Book; 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Bronze, Mind/Body/Spirit, Self-Esteem; 2012 Mom’s Choice Award, Gold, Juvenile Level 2 Books 9-12, Mind/Body/Spirit; 2012 USA Best Book Award, Parenting/Family: General; 2012 Association Trends All-Media Contest Finalist Responding to the fact that coping with a parent s death can be especially hard on young children, this beautifully written and illustrated book is a valuable resource for parents and counselors. Ten-year-old Emily and seven-year-old Ben must deal with the loss of their mother to cancer. Guided by conversations with their father, they embark on a journey of grief and healing, each searching for a path to acceptance. Along the way, both children realize that their mother will always be with them in their hearts. And just as their mother s flowers had bloomed in the garden, Emily and Ben emerge from the darkness of grief to bloom once more. Using nature as a backdrop for the cycles of life, this moving story emphasizes hope and healing and will connect with all readers who have lost a loved one. “

  • Grandpa's Top Threes - A young boy’s original game coaxes a grieving grandpa to reconnect with the world in a touching intergenerational story of love and resilience. Henry loves talking with Grandpa, but Grandpa has stopped listening. Mom says to just give him time. But Henry wants to talk to Grandpa now. So Henry tries his favorite game: Top Threes. And something amazing happens: Grandpa starts talking again. Out of a tale of favorite sandwiches and zoo animals, outings and trains, emerges a moving story about love, loss, and the wonder of grannies and grandpas.

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Ida, Always
Written by Caron Levis & illustrated by Charles Santoso
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A beautiful, honest portrait of loss and deep friendship told through the story of two iconic polar bears.

Gus lives in a big park in the middle of an even bigger city, and he spends his days with Ida. Ida is right there. Always.

Then one sad day, Gus learns that Ida is very sick, and she isn’t going to get better. The friends help each other face the difficult news with whispers, sniffles, cuddles, and even laughs. Slowly Gus realizes that even after Ida is gone, she will still be with him—through the sounds of their city, and the memories that live in their favorite spots.

Ida, Always is an exquisitely told story of two best friends—inspired by a real bear friendship—and a gentle, moving, needed reminder that loved ones lost will stay in our hearts, always.

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It's the End of the World as I Know It
Written by Matthew Landis
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Derrick is sure that doomsday is coming, and he’s prepping to survive–whether his friends believe him or not–in this middle grade novel for readers of Gary Schmidt, Gordon Korman, and Jack Gantos Ever since his mother was killed in the line of duty in Iraq, Derrick has been absolutely certain that the apocalypse is coming. And he’s prepared: he’s got plenty of canned goods, he’s fully outfitted with HAZMAT suits, and he’s building himself a sturdy fallout shelter. When his neighbor Misty insists on helping with the shelter, Derrick doesn’t think it’s such a good idea. Misty’s just had a kidney transplant, and her reaction to her brush with death is the opposite of Derrick’s: where Derrick wants to hide, Misty wants to see and do everything. But as confident as Misty is, Derrick’s doomsday fears just keep getting worse. And Derrick’s promised apocalypse day begins with a very strange disaster, Derrick and Misty have to figure out a way to survive–especially when the end of the world as they know it looks nothing like they expected.

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The Rabbit Listened
Written & illustrated by Cori Doerffeld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Taylor’s block castle is destroyed, all the animals think they know just what to do, but only the rabbit quietly listens to how Taylor is feeling

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Big Cat, Little Cat
Written & illustrated by Elisha Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A 2018 Caldecott Honor book There was a cat who lived alone. Until the day a new cat came . . . And so a story of friendship begins, following the two cats through their days, months, and years until one day, the older cat has to go. And he doesn’t come back. This is a poignant story, told in measured text and bold black-and-white illustrations about the act of moving on.

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Saturdays Are For Stella
Written by Candy Wellins & illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 44-8

George loves Saturdays.

That’s because Saturdays mean time with Grandma Stella. The two of them love going on adventures downtown to visit the dinosaur museum and ride on the carousel! Even when they stay in, George and Stella have fun together, making cinnamon rolls without popping open a tube and sharing the biggest, best hugs.

Then one day Stella is gone, and George is ready to cancel Saturdays. But when a new addition to the family arrives, George finds a way to celebrate the priceless memories he made with his grandma―while making new ones too.

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  • A Stopwatch from Grampa - “When summer started, I got Grampa’s stopwatch,” a small child says. “I don’t want his stopwatch. I want him.” Grampa used to time everything. A race to the end of the street and back: 24 seconds. Eating bubblegum ice cream: 1 minute, 58 seconds. But now, Grampa’s gone. “There are no more Grampa minutes, Grampa seconds,” the child says. “Time just stops.” As the seasons come and go, the stopwatch becomes a cherished symbol of remembrance, and the child uses it to carry on Grampa’s favorite pastimes and traditions. Loretta Garbutt uses subtlety and sensitivity to explore the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in this moving picture book story of loss. It features a gender-neutral main character (no first name or pronouns are given) making the story universally relatable. This is a perfect choice for fostering discussions with children about their emotions, particularly the feeling of loss. It also offers a poignant representation of an intergenerational relationship between a grandfather and grandchild. Carmen Mok’s expressive and thoughtful illustrations employ a limited color palette to convey the character’s emotional trajectory. There are curriculum applications here in social-emotional development as well as character education lessons in caring and resilience.

  • Maybe Tomorrow? - A heartwarming story about loss, healing, and how to be a friend during hard times.[Offers] hope that the world can be beautiful place…an excellent purchase. –School Library Journal Demonstrate[s] the power of patience, listening, and simply showing up. –Kirkus Reviews Elba has a big block. She’s been dragging it around for a long time.Norris dances everywhere he goes, even uphill. He is always surrounded by a happy cloud of butterflies.Can Norris and his butterflies help ease Elba’s sadness and convince her to join them on a trip to the ocean? This tender exploration of loss illuminates the sustaining power of kindness, empathy, and friendship. It will resonate with anyone who has experienced hardship or grief, from the death of a loved one or a pet, to the transition to a new home, family situation, or learning environment. It is especially comforting during this time of social distancing and the uncertainty around what the future holds, sensitively demonstrating that together we can make it through anything if we take care of one another.

  • A Monster Calls - An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor. At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

  • Dog Called Homeless - Praised by Newbery Medal-winning author Katherine Applegate as graceful and miraculous, this Schneider Family Book Award-winning novel tells how one girl’s friendship with a homeless dog mends a family’s heart.Cally Fisher knows she can see her dead mother, but the only other living soul who does is a mysterious wolfhound who always seems to be there when her mom appears. How can Cally convince anyone that her mom is still with the family, or persuade her dad that the huge silver-gray dog belongs with them?With beautiful, spare writing and adorable animals, A Dog Called Homeless is perfect for readers of favorite middle-grade novels starring dogs, such as Because of Winn-Dixie and Shiloh.

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The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya
Written by Jane Kelley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A desperately ill girl and an orphaned African gray parrot find friendship, security and healing when they are inadvertently joined by fate. By the author of The Girl Behind the Glass.

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Bird
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Young Mekhai, better known as Bird, loves to draw. With drawings, he can erase the things that don’t turn out right. In real life, problems aren’t so easily fixed.As Bird struggles to understand the death of his beloved grandfather and his older brother’s drug addiction, he escapes into his art. Drawing is an outlet for Bird’s emotions and imagination, and provides a path to making sense of his world. In time, with the help of his grandfather’s friend, Bird finds his own special somethin’ and wings to fly.Told with spare grace, Bird is a touching look at a young boy coping with real-life troubles. Readers will be heartened by Bird’s quiet resilience, and moved by the healing power of putting pencil to paper.Bird, the recipient of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award Honor, is the first picture book of both Zetta Elliot and Shadra Strickland.

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Line Tender
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

Funny, poignant, and deeply moving, The Line Tender is a story of nature’s enduring mystery and a girl determined to find meaning and connection within it. Wherever the sharks led, Lucy Everhart’s marine-biologist mother was sure to follow. In fact, she was on a boat far off the coast of Massachusetts, collecting shark data when she died suddenly. Lucy was seven. Since then Lucy and her father have kept their heads above water–thanks in large part to a few close friends and neighbors. But June of her twelfth summer brings more than the end of school and a heat wave to sleepy Rockport. On one steamy day, the tide brings a great white–and then another tragedy, cutting short a friendship everyone insists was “meaningful” but no one can tell Lucy what it all meant. To survive the fresh wave of grief, Lucy must grab the line that connects her depressed father, a stubborn fisherman, and a curious old widower to her mother’s unfinished research on the Great White’s return to Cape Cod. If Lucy can find a way to help this unlikely quartet follow the sharks her mother loved, she’ll finally be able to look beyond what she’s lost and toward what’s left to be discovered. ★”Confidently voiced.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred★”Richly layered.”–Publishers Weekly, starred★”A hopeful path forward.”–Booklist, starred ★”Life-affirming.”–BCCB, starred★”Big-hearted.” –Bookpage, starred★”Will appeal to just about everyone.” - SLC, starred★”Exquisitely, beautifully real.”–Shelf Awareness, starred

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August Isle
Written by Ali Standish
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From critically acclaimed author Ali Standish (The Ethan I Was Before), the story of one girl’s journey to a magical seaside town, where she uncovers her family’s long hidden secrets and ultimately finds truth and redemption. Fans of Sharon Creech and Rebecca Stead will be captivated by this story filled with warm humor, mystery, whimsy, and characters you can’t let go. A modern classic in the making! For years, Miranda has stared at postcards of August Isle, Florida. The town where her mother spent her summers as a girl. The town that Miranda has always ached to visit. She just never wanted it to happen this way. When she arrives on the Isle, alone and uncertain, to stay the summer with an old friend of her mother’s, Miranda discovers a place even more perfect than she imagined. And she finds a new friend in Sammy, “Aunt” Clare’s daughter. But there is more to August Isle than its bright streets and sandy beaches, and soon Miranda is tangled in a web of mysteries. A haunted lighthouse. An old seafarer with something to hide. A name reaching out from her mother’s shadowy past. As she closes in on answers, Miranda must reckon with the biggest question of all: Is she brave enough to face the truth she might uncover?

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The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden
Written by Heather Smith & illustrated by Rachel Wada and Heather Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

When the tsunami destroyed Makio’s village, Makio lost his father…and his voice. The entire village is silenced by grief, and the young child’s anger at the ocean grows. Then one day his neighbor, Mr. Hirota, begins a mysterious project—building a phone booth in his garden. At first Makio is puzzled; the phone isn’t connected to anything. It just sits there, unable to ring. But as more and more villagers are drawn to the phone booth, its purpose becomes clear to Makio: the disconnected phone is connecting people to their lost loved ones. Makio calls to the sea to return what it has taken from him and ultimately finds his voice and solace in a phone that carries words on the wind.

Inspired by the true story of the wind phone in Otsuchi, Japan, following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

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