restricted access An Annotated Bibliography of Death-Related Books for Children and Adolescents
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Literature and Medicine 21.1 (2002) 147-174

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An Annotated Bibliography of Death-Related Books for Children and Adolescents

Charles A. Corr

The following is a selected list of books for children and adolescents on death, dying, and bereavement. It contains 146 entries, some including more than a single title, thus providing bibliographical information for a total of 168 books. These books were selected to provide a broad representation of the titles in this field, including both well-established and newer titles, to offer readers a large spectrum of books covering various death-related topics and to identify a wide variety of different kinds of books that have been published for child and adolescent readers. The list that follows is divided into four broad categories: picture and coloring books for preschoolers and beginners, storybooks and other texts for primary school readers, literature for middle school children, and literature for high school readers.

In many instances, interested adults may wish to use this list to select particular books to read and discuss with a child. Other titles can simply be made available, individually or in small groups, for young readers to choose. Some books listed for younger age groups may be suitable for older children whose reading abilities are not well developed. For each entry in the list, brief annotations describe the book's contents and sometimes comment on its special features. At the end are three sources that might be useful in obtaining additional information about death-related literature for children and adolescents. These sources may also prove helpful in purchasing some of the books listed below, which are flagged with an asterisk. [End Page 147]

Picture and Coloring Books for Preschoolers and Beginning Readers

Bartoli, Jennifer. Nonna. New York: Harvey House, 1975. A boy and his younger sister, with happy memories of their grandmother, are allowed to participate in her funeral and burial, and the division of her property among family members so that each receives some memento of her life.

Blackburn, Lynn Bennett. Timothy Duck: The Story of the Death of a Friend. Omaha, Neb.: Centering Corporation, 1987.* Timothy seeks to understand his responses to death when his friend John dies. He sympathizes with John's sister, Molly, whose needs are overlooked by the adults around her. Timothy shares his questions and concerns with his mother and his best friend.

Boulden, Jim. Saying Goodbye. Weaverville, Calif.: Boulden Publishing, 1989.* A story that presents death as a natural part of life, the feelings involved in saying good-bye, and the conviction that love is forever. An activity book format allows children to draw pictures, color images, or insert thoughts on its pages.

Brown, Lawrence Krasny, and Marc Brown. When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death. Boston: Little, Brown, 1996. Dinosaur characters in a cartoon format introduce young children to such issues as what it means to be alive, why someone dies, and what "dead" means as well as feelings about death, ways to say good-bye, beliefs about what comes after death, and ways to remember someone.

Brown, Margaret Wise. The Dead Bird. 1958; reprint, Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley, 1965. This early classic offers an extremely simple but attractive text and pictures for very young readers. Some children find a dead bird in the woods. They touch the bird, bury it in a simple ceremony, and return to the site each day to mourn "until they forgot." Sadness need not last forever; life can go on again.

Bunting, Eve. Rudi's Pond. New York: Clarion Books, 1999. A young girl's best friend, Rudi, has a congenital heart condition. When he dies, his classmates write poems and make a memorial pond that attracts a beautiful hummingbird.

Buscaglia, Leo. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages. Thorofare, N.J.: Slack, 1982. Photographs of leaves are accompanied by [End Page 148] a text in which one leaf asks another to explain their anticipated fall from the tree and the meaning of life. Fear of dying is compared to fear of the...