100 books like Something Very Sad Happened

By Bonnie Zucker, Kim Fleming (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that Something Very Sad Happened fans have personally recommended if you like Something Very Sad Happened. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Rough Patch

Caroline Kusin Pritchard Author Of Where Is Poppy?

From my list on talking about death and loss with your kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a children’s book author who typically centers humor at the heart of my books but who dipped into heartache to tell this specific story. As a former educator with four kiddos of my own, I’ve been able to witness the myriad ways kids cope with grief, everything from hiding out in blanket forts to holding a backyard funeral service for a beloved pet roly-poly. I hope my book, Where is Poppy? offers kids comfort, peace, and preparation for their own unique journeys with loss. I studied creative writing and political science at Stanford University and hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Caroline's book list on talking about death and loss with your kids

Caroline Kusin Pritchard Why did Caroline love this book?

This may be one of the most-read books in our house, which is saying something for a book about a gardening aficionado named Evan, whose dog dies in the first few spreads.

It’s hard for even our 2-year-old not to bristle when Evan, in his grief, violently destroys his beloved garden. But watching how he unintentionally nurtures a once prickly vine into a prized-winning pumpkin has all of us cheering with each read.

I love how this story doesn’t shy away from the deep pain that comes with losing someone we love and doesn’t sugarcoat the long, often lonely process of coming back to the surface for air. Kids are ready for this honesty, and this book does it with a gentle but honest sense of purpose. 

By Brian Lies,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Rough Patch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A Caldecott Honor Book

An ALA Notable Book

A breathtakingly beautiful and luminescent book that is pitch-perfect for anyone of any age who has experienced any type of loss or disappointment, from New York Times-bestselling picture book creator Brian Lies.

New York Times-bestselling author-illustrator Brian Lies has created a beautiful, accessible, and deeply personal story about friendship, loss, and renewal. The Rough Patch was awarded a Caldecott Honor and features stunning paintings from the award-winning creator of Bats at the Beach.

Evan and his dog do everything together, from eating ice cream to caring for their prize-winning garden, which grows…


Book cover of Death Is Stupid

Amanda Rawson Hill Author Of You'll Find Me

From my list on for guiding your child through grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the past ten years, I have had to guide my young children through two unexpected and tragic deaths of loved ones. Both times, I was struggling with my own grief and wasn’t sure what my kids understood or didn’t. I made a lot of mistakes (as my son’s therapist can attest) but through it all, I learned a great deal about how much children notice, how deeply they feel a loss, and how to tend to our own grief and our children’s. From that pain, I wrote You’ll Find Me, and since then, have been able to use that book as a jumping-off point to discuss grief with others.

Amanda's book list on for guiding your child through grief

Amanda Rawson Hill Why did Amanda love this book?

One of the most frustrating parts of losing someone involves all the well-meaning but ultimately terrible things people say to you. It’s even harder for children who often have to grapple with euphemisms like “passed away” or “in a better place.” This book provides space to feel anger about these phrases and talk about why they don’t make sense. It also broaches feelings of missing, the scary feeling of seeing grownups grieve loudly, and gives little ideas for remembering your loved one, including providing a place in the back to write their name and paste in a picture.

By Anastasia Higginbotham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death Is Stupid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FEATURED IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

Part of the Ordinary Terrible Things series, the new and expanded edition of Death Is Stupid is an invaluable tool for discussing death, exploring grief, and honoring the life of our loved ones.

When someone we love dies, adults often say things like, "She's in a better place now," or "I know how you feel." You do not, one little boy thinks after his grandma passes away. Caught in the swirl of anger, confusion, and fear that accompanies grief and mourning, he doesn't just think death is unfair-he thinks death is stupid. It takes…


Book cover of Our Tree Named Steve

Amanda Rawson Hill Author Of You'll Find Me

From my list on for guiding your child through grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the past ten years, I have had to guide my young children through two unexpected and tragic deaths of loved ones. Both times, I was struggling with my own grief and wasn’t sure what my kids understood or didn’t. I made a lot of mistakes (as my son’s therapist can attest) but through it all, I learned a great deal about how much children notice, how deeply they feel a loss, and how to tend to our own grief and our children’s. From that pain, I wrote You’ll Find Me, and since then, have been able to use that book as a jumping-off point to discuss grief with others.

Amanda's book list on for guiding your child through grief

Amanda Rawson Hill Why did Amanda love this book?

I did not buy this book because I thought it was a grief book. I got it to do a tree unit for my kids’ preschool. But a year after my father-in-law (also named Steve) died unexpectedly, I couldn’t finish reading this book aloud without crying.

While not a traditional grief book, this is the story of a tree that has become inextricably intertwined with a family’s daily life, until one day a storm blows it over and the children come home to Steve in a new form, as a treehouse. A great way to discuss how we can find our lost loved ones in new ways.

By Alan Zweibel, David Catrow (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Tree Named Steve as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Dear Kids, A long time ago, when you were little, Mom and I took you to where we wanted to build a house. . . . I remember there was one tree, however, that the three of you couldn’t stop staring at. . . .

After the family spares him from the builders, Steve the tree quickly works his way into their lives. He holds their underwear when the dryer breaks down, he’s there when Adam and Lindsay get their first crushes, and he’s the centerpiece at their outdoor family parties. With a surprising lack of anthropomorphizing, this is a…


Book cover of Rabbit and the Motorbike

Amanda Rawson Hill Author Of You'll Find Me

From my list on for guiding your child through grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the past ten years, I have had to guide my young children through two unexpected and tragic deaths of loved ones. Both times, I was struggling with my own grief and wasn’t sure what my kids understood or didn’t. I made a lot of mistakes (as my son’s therapist can attest) but through it all, I learned a great deal about how much children notice, how deeply they feel a loss, and how to tend to our own grief and our children’s. From that pain, I wrote You’ll Find Me, and since then, have been able to use that book as a jumping-off point to discuss grief with others.

Amanda's book list on for guiding your child through grief

Amanda Rawson Hill Why did Amanda love this book?

When I picked up Rabbit and the Motorbike, I didn’t know it had a death in it. I grabbed it for the beautiful cover and artwork. But the story inside deeply resonated with me, especially so soon after releasing my own grief book. Rabbit has a friend, Dog, who rides all over on his motorbike and comes back and tells Rabbit all his great adventures. Rabbit never goes anywhere but he loves Dog’s stories. One day, Dog dies and leaves his motorbike to Rabbit. Rabbit is mystified. Why would Dog leave him his motorbike? Rabbit never goes anywhere. But then one day he does, and the whole world opens up and now Rabbit has stories of his own to tell.

A beautiful book about how life goes on after grief and learning to live fully and make our own stories.

By Kate Hoefler, Sarah Jacoby (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rabbit and the Motorbike as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Rabbit isn't sure he'll ever be brave enough to go on an adventure. He's a homebody who lives in a quiet field of wheat he dreams of leaving every night. His world is enlarged by his friend Dog and Dog's tales of motorbike adventures. But one day, Dog is gone, and with him, go the stories Rabbit loves so much. Dare Rabbit pick up the motorbike and live his own story? This timeless fable of the journey from grief to acceptance will touch every reader. For those confronting loss and those eager to explore and experience, Rabbit's bravery in the…


Book cover of Awakening from Grief: Finding the Way Back to Joy

Allen Klein Author Of Embracing Life After Loss: A Gentle Guide for Growing Through Grief

From my list on grief and loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

Allen Klein is a former hospice volunteer and the former director of The Life-Death Transitions Institute in San Francisco. He has also spoken at over 100 hospice events around the world. In addition, several of his books have dealt with death, dying, and grief. Among them are, The Healing Power of Humor, The Courage to Laugh, and Embracing Life after Loss. Klein’s interest in the connection between humor and death and dying came out of the death of his wife, who had a wonderful sense of humor. He saw how humor helped her, and those around her, cope with this challenging circumstance.

Allen's book list on grief and loss

Allen Klein Why did Allen love this book?

This meditation teacher shows those who have experienced a loss new ways to embrace the pain so that they can feel joy again. Written for all types of loss, Welshons shows readers how grief can provide a unique opportunity to live a fuller and richer life in spite of our losses.

By John E. Welshons,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Awakening from Grief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this remarkable book, Welshons weaves together his own personal awakening with those of others he's counseled to bestow a deeply felt and exquisitely expressed primer on dealing with grief. We learn new ways to embrace our pain so that our hearts can open to feel joy. We discover how grieving gives us the unique opportunity to develop deeper and fuller life experiences. Written for people who have experienced any type of loss—whether through death, divorce, or disappointment—this compelling and memorable guide will take its place among the insightful works of grief management.


Book cover of Luna's Red Hat: An Illustrated Storybook to Help Children Cope with Loss and Suicide

Anthony Lloyd Jones Author Of The Princess and the Fog: A Story for Children with Depression

From my list on understanding depression, loss, grief, and anxiety.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had depression when I was young, but I didn’t know what that meant or what to do about it. So much of mental health is invisible and nobody knew. I didn’t have the language to explain how I felt, or to ask for help, and I didn’t know how to find out. Any book that could have helped me jump those hurdles would have been incredibly valuable. Children relate to stories, characters, metaphors and pictures more than words. Giving children the tools to explore how they feel in ways they can relate to is really important. I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel as alone as I did. 

Anthony's book list on understanding depression, loss, grief, and anxiety

Anthony Lloyd Jones Why did Anthony love this book?

Luna’s Red Hat does a fantastic job of explaining suicide to its readers in a way that is blameless and sensitive, delicate but not sugar-coated. It’s a hard topic to talk about, especially with children or people who haven’t ever felt suicidal themselves. You can tell in the way that Luna and her father talk to each other and about Luna’s mother that this was and is a very close and loving family, and that nobody is to blame for Luna’s mother taking her own life. This book has been a big inspiration for me. I hope I am able to write about mental health and other difficult topics with as much grace as Emmi does in this book.

By Emmi Smid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Luna's Red Hat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is a beautiful spring day, and Luna is having a picnic in the park with her family, wearing her Mum's red hat. Luna's Mum died one year ago and she still finds it difficult to understand why. She feels that it may have been her fault and worries that her Dad might leave her in the same way. Her Dad talks to her to explain what happened and together they think about all the happy memories they have of Mum.

This beautifully-illustrated storybook is designed as a tool to be read with children aged 6+ who have experienced the…


Book cover of I Miss You: Grief and Mental Health Books for Kids

Linda Matesa Author Of The Golden Bowl: A book to help children cope with grief

From my list on for grieving children to aid in recovery after loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was not intentionally set out to write books for children, but I was inspired to do so after struggling to face the challenges brought on by my illness—multiple brain tumors and surgeries. Creating messages through stories for children facing such hardship as a life-threatening illness, at times even brought me the reason I needed to keep fighting for my health and for my life.

Linda's book list on for grieving children to aid in recovery after loss

Linda Matesa Why did Linda love this book?

The book explains that death is a natural element of life and explains it in a comprehensible and easy way. It will be a good read for those who believe only in that which they see. The book also explains the importance of having someone to talk to after someone dies and dealing with the emotions.

I would suggest this book to young readers and families who do not believe in a Higher Power or do not know whether they believe it or not.

By Pat Thomas, Lesley Harker (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Miss You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

This reassuring picture book explores the difficult issue of death for young children. Children's feelings and questions about this sensitive subject are looked at in a simple but realistic way. This book helps them to understand their loss and come to terms with it.

Notes for parents and teachers at the back of the book provide valuable advice for how to share this book with your child or class.

Written by a trained psychotherapist, journalist and parent, and illustrated by an experienced children's book artist, this is part of an acclaimed and successful series of picture-book non-fiction for Early Years.…


Book cover of The Courage to Grieve: The Classic Guide to Creative Living, Recovery, and Growth Through Grief

Allen Klein Author Of Embracing Life After Loss: A Gentle Guide for Growing Through Grief

From my list on grief and loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

Allen Klein is a former hospice volunteer and the former director of The Life-Death Transitions Institute in San Francisco. He has also spoken at over 100 hospice events around the world. In addition, several of his books have dealt with death, dying, and grief. Among them are, The Healing Power of Humor, The Courage to Laugh, and Embracing Life after Loss. Klein’s interest in the connection between humor and death and dying came out of the death of his wife, who had a wonderful sense of humor. He saw how humor helped her, and those around her, cope with this challenging circumstance.

Allen's book list on grief and loss

Allen Klein Why did Allen love this book?

Experiencing a loss may feel overwhelming. That is why you need to read this comforting book; it can ease that feeling. Written by a Gestalt therapist, this book feels like the author is in the room with you helping you deal with your sorrow, guilt, loneliness, resentment, confusion, and encouraging you to take part in life again after your loss.

By Judy Tatelbaum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Courage to Grieve as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Profound loss and disappointment are emotions that each of us will experience at some point in our lives. Loss is one of the most difficult experiences to come to terms with. The Courage to Grieve explores how we can deal with every kind of grief, revealing:

- How grief manifests itself in many ways, ranging from anguish, exhaustion, emptiness, resentment, longing, tension, confusion, sleeplessness and sometimes the temporary loss of the will to live.
- How we can help ourselves and others to cope with the immediate experience of death and the grief and mourning period that follows.
- How…


Book cover of The Sun Still Rises: Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss

Autumn Toelle-Jackson Author Of Boldly Into the Darkness: Living with Loss, Growing with Grief & Holding on to Happiness

From my list on to read when grieving.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I had multiple miscarriages in my late 20’s, I found I had no idea how to handle my grief. I didn’t even recognize I was grieving. A few years later when my husband died I was thrust into grief and a life I had never wanted. It took me months to learn how to survive, and a lot longer to find the resources I needed to live a happy life despite my loss. Finding resources that would help became important to me, and a handful of books have stayed with me long after I read them. I hope these books help you as much as they helped me.

Autumn's book list on to read when grieving

Autumn Toelle-Jackson Why did Autumn love this book?

This book is the first one I read after losing my husband. I was 31-years old, with a toddler and a newborn, and I had no idea how I was going to survive the rest of my life, better yet make it a life worth living. In The Sun Still Rises: Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss, author Shawn Doyle shares his story of loss, but more than that he shares hope with his reader. Hope that there is still light in the darkness of grief. At that point in my loss, hope was what I needed most. However, he didn't stop there, he also provided practical tips and suggestions about dealing with both the logistical matters that come with loss, as well as providing emotional support. This book helped me live my best life, in spite of my loss.

By Shawn Doyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sun Still Rises as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Coping with the loss of a loved one is perhaps the most difficult and devastating challenge any of us face in our lifetime.

The grief you feel hurts more than physical pain.

And yet, somehow, life is still going on around you.

Is it even possible to survive, let alone thrive, after such grief and loss?

In this book, Shawn Doyle shares his heart-wrenching personal story of bereavement to supply you with the tools, tips, and techniques for dealing with loss and grief on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis.

This is not a predictable five stages of grief book.…


Book cover of We Can Never Leave This Place

Polly Hall Author Of Myrrh

From my list on capturing the experience of adoption.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was adopted as a baby, so I have first-hand experience of the emotions and challenges this presents. I am passionate about shining light on this often misunderstood and complex family trauma through my writing. My memoir Blood and Blood, an emotive exploration of the search for my birth relatives, was shortlisted for the Mslexia Prize. My research extends to fiction and non-fiction, where the psychological effects of adoption are referenced or highlighted. I am always keen to chat with fellow care-experienced people. I hope you find the books on this list helpful.

Polly's book list on capturing the experience of adoption

Polly Hall Why did Polly love this book?

If you haven’t already, READ ERIC LAROCCA NOW! I have devoured all his published work, and this one was so bleak, subversive, gothic, and intense… in fact, I’m sure a whole dictionary would never completely describe how it made me feel. 

He has a way of slicing through the viscera and injecting words into your bloodstream. Whenever I read any of his stories, I feel inspired as a horror writer to up my game and insert more gore into my own writing. Yet, he makes it look incredibly easy, almost as if he is writing poetry using his own bodily fluids. Perhaps he does!? Proceed with care…

By Eric Larocca,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Can Never Leave This Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"When you're given a gift, something else gets taken away."

A precocious young girl with an unusual imagination is sent on an odyssey into the depths of depravity. After her father dies violently, young Mara is surprised to find her mother welcoming a new guest into their home, claiming that he will protect them from the world of devastation and destruction outside their door.

A grotesque and thrilling dark fantasy, We Can Never Leave This Place is a harrowing portrait of inherited grief and familial trauma.


"We Can Never Leave This Place is the apocalyptic 21st century Grimm's fairy tale…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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