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Talking to Children about the Connecticut School Tragedy

It is almost impossible to comprehend the loss that occurred last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It can be even more difficult to explain that loss to your children.

Books are one of the best ways to open the door on a topic, to start a discussion with your children about tough issues. Reading a story about the death of a loved one, a family pet, or even a leaf in autumn, can help young children begin to understand that death is a part of life. There are many poignant and powerful books about grief and death for children. We've listed some of the best books here for you and your family to share.


Amazon Says: This story by Leo Buscaglia is a warm, wonderfully wise and strikingly simple story about a leaf names Freddie. How Freddie and his companion leaves change with the passing se more...
Amazon Says: This story by Leo Buscaglia is a warm, wonderfully wise and strikingly simple story about a leaf names Freddie. How Freddie and his companion leaves change with the passing seasons, finally falling to the ground with winter's snow, is an inspiring allegory illustrating the delicate balance between life and death. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf is a warm and thought-provoking story and both children and adults will be deeply touched by this inspiring book. This 20th anniversary edition of this beloved classic has helped thousands of people come to grips with life and death. less...
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Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant
Amazon Says: In Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant's classic bestseller, the author comforts readers young and old who have lost a dog. Recommended highly by pet lovers around the world, Do more...
Amazon Says: In Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant's classic bestseller, the author comforts readers young and old who have lost a dog. Recommended highly by pet lovers around the world, Dog Heaven not only comforts but also brings a tear to anyone who is devoted to a pet. From expansive fields where dogs can run and run to delicious biscuits no dog can resist, Rylant paints a warm and affectionate picture of the ideal place God would, of course, create for man's best friend. The first picture book illustrated by the author, Dog Heaven is enhanced by Rylant's bright, bold paintings that perfectly capture an afterlife sure to bring solace to anyone who is grieving. less...
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Remembering Crystal by Sebastian Loth
Amazon Says: A beautifully written and illustrated book that introduces a big subject to little ones Crystal had lived in the garden for many years. She was growing old. Zelda was just st more...
Amazon Says: A beautifully written and illustrated book that introduces a big subject to little ones Crystal had lived in the garden for many years. She was growing old. Zelda was just starting out in life. They were best friends. They read books together. They took trips together. And they talked about everything. But one day Crystal was not in the garden. She had died. In this gentle story, children learn, with Zelda, that true friendship is a gift that doesn’t die. less...
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Michael Rosen's Sad Book by Michael Rosen
Amazon Says: With unmitigated honesty, a touch of humor, and sensitive illustrations by Quentin Blake, Michael Rosen explores the experience of sadness in a way that resonates with us a more...
Amazon Says: With unmitigated honesty, a touch of humor, and sensitive illustrations by Quentin Blake, Michael Rosen explores the experience of sadness in a way that resonates with us all. Sometimes I'm sad and I don’t know why. It's just a cloud that comes along and covers me up. Sad things happen to everyone, and sometimes people feel sad for no reason at all. What makes Michael Rosen sad is thinking about his son, Eddie, who died suddenly at the age of eighteen. In this book the author writes about his sadness, how it affects him, and some of the things he does to cope with it—like telling himself that everyone has sad stuff (not just him) and trying every day to do something he can be proud of. Expressively illustrated by the extraordinary Quentin Blake, this is a very personal story that speaks to everyone, from children to parents to grandparents, teachers to grief counselors. Whether or not you have known what it's like to feel deeply sad, the truth of this book will surely touch you. less...
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One More Wednesday by Malika Doray
Amazon Says: On Wednesdays when I was little, Granny and I baked cakes and cookies....And that was only one of the things that made Wednesdays -- and Granny -- special.Malika Doray has wri more...
Amazon Says: On Wednesdays when I was little, Granny and I baked cakes and cookies....And that was only one of the things that made Wednesdays -- and Granny -- special.Malika Doray has written and illustrated a unique tale of love, loss, and understanding that will help and comfort anyone who has lost someone important, and open the way for all of us to talk about the mysteries of life, death, and eternity. less...
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Sweet, Sweet Memory by Jacqueline Woodson
Amazon Says: FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. A child and her grandmother feel sad when Grandpa dies, but as time passes, funny memories of him make them laugh and feel better. more...
Amazon Says: FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. A child and her grandmother feel sad when Grandpa dies, but as time passes, funny memories of him make them laugh and feel better. less...
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Amazon Says: What is death? What is it like when a friend or relative dies? Is there life after death? more...
Amazon Says: What is death? What is it like when a friend or relative dies? Is there life after death? less...
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Amazon Says: A moving and eloquent chronicle of eleven children, ranging from toddlers to teenagers, who have lost family or friends shows how drawing, music, and other rituals can help th more...
Amazon Says: A moving and eloquent chronicle of eleven children, ranging from toddlers to teenagers, who have lost family or friends shows how drawing, music, and other rituals can help the grieving process, offering creative strategies for dealing with loss. less...
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Amazon Says: The authors explain in simple language the feelings people may have regarding the death of a loved one and the ways to honor the memory of someone who has died. more...
Amazon Says: The authors explain in simple language the feelings people may have regarding the death of a loved one and the ways to honor the memory of someone who has died. less...
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Waiting to Sing by DK Publishing
Amazon Says: The love of music connects a family, even one separated by a death. "My family's story was played on the piano," the boy says. His father, a songwriter at heart, played "all t more...
Amazon Says: The love of music connects a family, even one separated by a death. "My family's story was played on the piano," the boy says. His father, a songwriter at heart, played "all the time," his wife standing at his side, the two of them singing. Eventually, son and father played, the boy's hands on the father's so they "traveled the path of the keyboard together." Painstakingly, the boy learned Beethoven's "Fur Elise." Always, even when she was not feeling well, his mother listened, appraised his playing. And then she died. This tender story, an ode to family as much as music, captures in mourning, the piano, like all members of the family, waits to "sing" "Fur Elise" again, and finally the boy, a little older now, hears from down the apartment hall the familiar E and D sharp, "like two friends calling out to one another." His father's hands have lifted. At the end of the story there is a note about "Fur Elise" and the meaning of absence and connection the famous piece had for the composer. less...
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Everett Anderson's Goodbye by Lucille Clifton
Amazon Says: Everett Anderson has a difficult time coming to terms with his grief after his father dies. more...
Amazon Says: Everett Anderson has a difficult time coming to terms with his grief after his father dies. less...
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Always and Forever by Alan Durant
Amazon Says: When Fox dies, Mole, Hare, and Otter are devastated. They feel they will never get over their great sadness. How can life go on without him? Then one day Squirrel comes to vis more...
Amazon Says: When Fox dies, Mole, Hare, and Otter are devastated. They feel they will never get over their great sadness. How can life go on without him? Then one day Squirrel comes to visit. She reminds Fox's family of all the funny things he used to do. And as the friends share dinner and tell stories, they realize at last that in their hearts and memories, Fox is still with them, and he will be--always and forever. With thoughtful, delicate illustrations by acclaimed artist Debi Gliori, this gentle story is just right for anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one. less...
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The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic
Amazon Says: A little boy responds to his mother's death in a genuine, deeply moving story leavened by glimmers of humor and captivating illustrations. When the boy in this story w more...
Amazon Says: A little boy responds to his mother's death in a genuine, deeply moving story leavened by glimmers of humor and captivating illustrations. When the boy in this story wakes to find that his mother has died, he is overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and fear that he will forget her. He shuts all the windows to keep in his mother's familiar smell and scratches open the cut on his knee to remember her comforting voice. He doesn't know how to speak to his dad anymore, and when Grandma visits and throws open the windows, it's more than the boy can take--until his grandmother shows him another way to feel that his mom's love is near. With tenderness, touches of humor, and unflinching emotional truth, Charlotte Moundlic captures the loneliness of grief through the eyes of a child, rendered with sympathy and charm in Olivier Tallec's expressive illustrations. less...
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That Summer by Tony Johnston
Amazon Says: That summer the brothers ran into the sun, freed from school. Time for fishing poles, lightning bugs, country roads, baseball gloves. But then Joey was dying. What do you more...
Amazon Says: That summer the brothers ran into the sun, freed from school. Time for fishing poles, lightning bugs, country roads, baseball gloves. But then Joey was dying. What do you do when someone you love is leaving the world? You reach for fragments of memory, like moments caught on film. You savor the vivid colors and small joys of each new day. That's what Joey's family does when they know he is leaving them. Tony Johnston's poignant words and Barry Moser's intimate pictures, a blend of past and present, invite us to share the experience of that summer--a season of family, of life, and of love. "This life-affirming story can provide inspiration and consolation for the brothers and sisters of seriously ill children--and for all family members when a child is losing the fight against a terrible disease. It's sure to stimulate helpful discussions." -Gregory Reaman, M.D., Chair of the National Children's Oncology Group less...
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