100 Scope Notes
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Death Becomes Children’s Lit: More 2016 Books on Loss

Waaay back in January, The Trend Whisperer spotted an uptick in children’s books about death and bereavement. Boy was she right. She mentioned these books in her piece:

The Dead Bird

The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Christian Robinson (this is a re-illustrated version of a story originally illustrated by Remy Charlip and published in 1965)

Always Remember

Always Remember by Cece Meng, illustrated by Jago


Ida, Always by Caron Levis, illustrated by Charles Santoso

As 2016 has continued, more books on the topic keep popping up, so I thought I’d list them here.

Some are straightforward (Death is Stupid), others are more poetic (Where Do They Go?). Some deal with death as a state of being (Benny and Penny), others present death as a character in the story (Cry, Heart, But Never Break, Life and I).

Death is something grownups have a hard time talking about with kids. Having some of these books in your collection will help.

Cry Heart

Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved, illustrated by Charlotte Pardi

Death is Stupid

Death is Stupid by Anastasia Higginbotham

Where Do They Go

Where Do They Go 1

Where Do They Go? by Julia Alvarez, illustrated by Sabra Field

My Best Friend

My Best Friend by Gilles Tibo, illustrated by Janice Nadeau

Say Goodbye

Say Goodbye 1

Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye by Geoffrey Hayes

Life and I

Life and I 1

Life and I: A Story About Death by Elisabeth Helland Larsen, illustrated by Marine Schneider

Grandad's Island

Grandad's Island 1

Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies

Do you have any 2016 picture books to add to this list?

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I have a story on this coming out on a bunch of these books (I loathed one) in Tablet Magazine on Friday AM — didn’t want you to think I’d chomped your idea!

  2. I really love Duck, Death, and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch, and Michael Rosen’s Sad Book is great too. A friend of mine is working on a new title that should be out next year, too.

    Picture books can do a lot because the form is so unassuming. It doesn’t *look* like any kind of self-help book I’ve seen. With the right amount of care, these books can give people a lot of comfort.

  3. Here’s mine. I also loved Duck, Death and the Tulip (which has NO OXFORD COMMA!).