The best books for kids dealing with grief, death, and loss

The Books I Picked & Why

The World on Either Side

By Diana Terrana

The World on Either Side

Why this book?

This story takes place on an exotic trek in Thailand. The setting is amazing. But what is even more amazing is the stuff going on inside the sixteen-year-old narrator Valentine’s head! She is trying to cope after the tragic, senseless death of her boyfriend. There is a lot that is sad and serious in this story, but it’s also life-affirming and beautifully written.


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The Space Between

By Don Aker

The Space Between

Why this book?

Oh, this is an amazing book! Hard to read in a few places, because it deals openly with the aftermath of a gruesome suicide. But if you ask me, that’s what readers need – openness about subjects, such as suicide, topics which many people would prefer to avoid altogether. Also, I’ve met author Don Aker and I love him. He told me he got the idea for this story from a real-life suicide that took place in his community.


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Against the Odds

By Marjolijn Hof

Against the Odds

Why this book?

One of my favourite books of all time! Not only because the author is Dutch (like me!!). The narrator Kiki is a worrier. She worries most of all about her dad who is a doctor who works in dangerous war zones. This book manages to be funny and sad and beautiful at the same time. Read it!


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The Marrow Thieves

By Cherie Dimaline

The Marrow Thieves

Why this book?

I just taught this book to my college class and they loved it too. It’s set in the future, and it’s written by a Métis author – but this book is really about an attempt to wipe out a culture. The narrator Frenchie is mourning the deaths of his family members, but he is also courageously attempting to rebuild his life and preserve his culture.


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Milo: Sticky Notes & Brain Freeze

By Alan Silberberg

Milo: Sticky Notes & Brain Freeze

Why this book?

Because I love how this book combines crazy humour and deep feeling. Because I am friends with the author I know that this book comes from somewhere deeply personal in his life – Silberberg’s mom died when he was a kid. This book needs to be read by anyone coping with the death of a loved one. Like all great books for kids, it’s for adults too!


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