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Children's books that explore grief and loss

Genre: Family, Relationships, Wellbeing
Age group: 9-11, 12-14, 15-18
Child in a brown jumper sitting on an adult's lap and sharing a book

This list of books explores grief, bereavement and loss including the death of parents and loved ones. We’ve also included books where, even if the main focus isn’t loss itself, the protagonist has still experienced the loss of someone close to them, with the goal of showing loss is normal, and there’s life beyond grief.

We also encourage parents or people working with children to read these books, as many of them beautifully capture the experience of losing someone or processing grief as a child.

For more advice on supporting children who have experienced loss or a bereavement see Child Bereavement UK(this link will open in a new window).

Jenny Pearson The Boy Who Made Monsters

After his parents are killed in a boating accident, Benji and his brother Stanley move into his uncle’s house in Scotland, beside Loch Lochy. Benji believes in things that no one else does – like the Loch Lochy monster and that his parents might come home one day. Determined to prove the monster’s existence, Benji is faced with a very different kind of monster.

Nadine Aisha Jassat The Stories Grandma Forgot (and How I Found Them)

This novel in verse follows Nyla, a young girl who is determined to unravel a family mystery. The book addresses loss in multiple ways – Nyla’s father died when she was young, and her grandmother is living with Alzheimer’s, meaning she sometimes doesn’t remember who Nyla is. This beautiful book is filled with a lot of empathy, as well as celebrating the things that can give us solace: libraries, books, gardens, music, friendship and community.

Kat Fajardo Miss Quinces

Sue’s dream summer involves camping, reading and drawing comics. Instead, she’s on a plane to Honduras to visit her family and have a dreaded quinceañera party! At the heart of this graphic novel is Sue’s bond with her Abuelita, and what she decides to do to honour her passing.

Lisa Thompson The Goldfish Boy

Eleven-year-old Matthew has OCD, a condition that has made it increasingly hard for him to leave his house since his younger brother died. When he’s the last person to see a young boy before he goes missing, he has to work with his neighbours to venture back out into the world. A really moving story about trauma and finding life beyond loss.

Dan Santat The Aquanaut

Sophia’s father was lost at sea, and ever since she’s been spending all her time at Aqualand, the theme park her father and uncle created. When a strange man in a diving bell breaks into the research lab, he and Sophia decide to team up to free the sea creatures in the park. This graphic novel beautifully explores loss and friendship as well as conservation and the environment.

Maisie Chan Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu

The story of Lizzie Chu takes place after Lizzie’s grandmother has died and she becomes a carer for her grandfather. Despite Lizzie’s grief, she’s sustained by her friends and community. The book follows her as she plans a chaotic trip to Blackpool to have one last dance with her grandfather and it’s just as funny as it is touching!

Hannah Gold The Last Bear

Since April’s mother died, she and her father aren’t as close. April and her dad move to an Arctic Outpost for his job and whilst he’s working she wanders Bear Island where she finds a stranded polar bear. This book is a rallying cry for the environment with a lot of heart.

Adam Baron Benji Davies Boy Underwater

Cymbeline’s life changes the day he’s pushed into a swimming pool and it’s revealed he never learned how to swim. When no one will answer his questions Cym and his friends team up to solve the mystery of why he never learned and why his Mum is so upset. Both hilarious and heart-breaking, this novel expertly looks at the pain of unspoken tragedies.

Elizabeth Lim Six Crimson Cranes

Shiori is a princess hiding a deadly secret – she possesses forbidden magic. When her stepmother banishes her from the kingdom and turns her brothers into cranes, she must go on a journey to find her family. In the background of this magical fantasy, Shiori reflects on the grief of losing her mother, and must unpick what family really is.

Jennifer Jamieson Simon James Green Finn Jones Was Here

When notorious prankster Finn dies, his best friend Eric can’t help but wonder if this is his biggest joke yet. As Eric follows clues left behind, he’s taken on a journey filled with memories, grief and ultimately acceptance.

Sita Brahmachari When Shadows Fall

For older readers, this visceral look at the impact of grief is full of insight and empathy. Kai, Orla and Zak are best friends – until Kai’s family is hit by tragedy. Kai soon pushes his friends away and begins spiralling into self-destruction. Beautiful illustrations accompany this story of finding your way despite what life throws at you.

Joe Kelly Ken Niimura I Kill Giants

For older readers, this bittersweet graphic novel deals with bullying, illness and escapism. Barbara Thorson is a young girl facing monsters both imagined and all too real. Her only way to process her problems is to create her own fantasy world – one where she can save the day and be the hero.

Danielle Jawando And the Stars Were Burning Brightly

For older readers, this unfolding story about cyberbullying and suicide is raw and compassionate. Fifteen-year-old Nathan is determined to find out why his older brother, Al, took his own life. Retracing Al’s steps, he meets one of Al’s classmates, Megan. An insightful look at mental health, social media, grief and loss.