Book Review: 3 Children's Books
BY: Susan Lakin, LISW-S
CATEGORY: Grief and Loss
PUBLICATION: About Grief
When we ourselves are grieving, it's hard to talk with children about death. Children may overhear adults describe their new feelings of grief, and those same feelings can be overwhelming or confusing for them. Children's books are a good way to introduce various aspects of loss. Sometimes, to provide a less threatening context, they may substitute animals for human beings.
Two new books are easily found in libraries and bookstores. For fans of the popular children's author, Todd Parr, The Goodbye Book
uses his signature brightly colored paper and illustrations to present various possible feelings one goldfish might have after losing his bowl-mate: "You might try to stop thinking about it," or "You might pretend it didn't happen," but, eventually, you will discover you have good memories to comfort you. At the end of the book the author shares the reality that this was the hardest book for him to write, "because it's never easy to say goodbye."
Another new picture book is Always Remember
, by Cece Meng, with illustrations by Jago. Even after their friend Old Turtle "swims his last swim and breathes his last breath," the story relates, all the sea animals can share what he has taught them. Old Turtle was strong and funny and brave and kind – and the ocean would never forget him.
Finally, there is the classic book, Lifetimes
, by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen, available in most libraries. Through beautiful drawings of nature, this book illustrates that every species and every person has a lifetime, whether long or short. With sensitivity, the authors encourage acceptance of whatever that life span is. It is less a book about grief, than a book to explain death.
It's a good idea to read any children's book yourself before presenting it to a child, to make sure it's appropriate and delivers the messages you want your young person to learn. Books can be used to encourage questions and discussions. You may find the issue the child is focused on may not always be the one you expect.