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12 Children's Books That Help Explain Tragedies and Death

by Erin Dower

It can be incredibly difficult to explain tragedy and death to a young child, and to help them cope. Whether your family is facing a personal loss of a family member or friend, or is struggling with the news of a community or national tragedy, find some children's books that can help kids learn about coping with sad and scary news, death, and grief.

Read through the book on your own first to see if it is appropriate for your child and applies to your situation. Also, read and discuss just one book at a time with your child so that he has time to process these tough concepts. It helps to consult with your child's pediatrician or a mental health specialist, especially in cases of a close personal loss or intense or prolonged emotions.

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children's books explaining death or grief, Tesss Tree

Tess's Tree by Jess Brallier


Tess loved her tree dearly. She would swing on it and sit in its shade and catch its leaves in the fall. One day, after a storm blew off some large branches, her tree must be cut down and taken away. In the sad days that follow, Tess puts together a funeral for her tree, where old friends and admirers of it come together to share nice stories. The book is a gentle first introduction to the concepts of loss, death, and remembrance.

Recommended age: 4 and up

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Next: A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes

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