It’s not always easy to explain things to children, especially when we may not fully understand them ourselves. Explaining death to children can be particularly difficult, especially when the death hits close to home.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Popular Children’s Books About a Grandparent’s Death
- Religious or Spiritual Children’s Books About a Grandparent’s Death
- Children’s Books About a Sick or Dying Grandparent
With the loss of a grandparent, you too may have just lost a beloved parent, in-law, partner, or friend. A children’s book about loss breaks down these concepts for children of all ages.
The books in the list may not fully explain the concept of death to your curious child, but they’ll help them adopt a more positive outlook on the loss of their grandparent. It may also provide a different perspective for you, too.
This post provides 23 children’s books about the loss of a grandparent, including popular titles, religious or faith-based titles, and those that cover the concept of illness.
Popular Children’s Books About a Grandparent’s Death
Popular children’s books about death, especially the loss of a grandparent, can help young readers make sense of their emotions and develop healthy ways of coping with loss. If your child likes coloring, for example, you may also be interested in grief coloring books.
1. Grandma is a Star by Ligia Carvalho
To begin, the children’s book Grandma is a Star received 4.7 out of 5 stars, with many reviews stating it was “exactly the book they were looking for.” Though a specific age range isn’t identified, this book should be suitable for children as young as four, per reviews.
The author describes Grandma is a Star as a way of honoring Grandma and helping to keep her memory alive “in the little one’s heart and mind.”
2. I Miss My Grandpa by Jin Xiaojing
I Miss My Grandpa offers a unique way of approaching death with your child. If they’re asking about a relative who passed away before they were alive or before they could remember, this is a great book to use as a tool.
The main character, a young girl, had never met her grandpa. But, through descriptions from others in her family, she’s able to visualize what he looked like and what it was like to be around him.
3. Thank You, Grandpa by Lynn Plourde
Great for children as young as five, Thank You, Grandpa incorporates elements of nature as well as the relationship between a granddaughter and a grandfather. On walks that the two share, they encounter several creatures, but must also learn how to say goodbye.
4. A Place in My Heart by Annette Aubrey
Written in rhyme, A Place in My Heart explores the feelings of sadness and confusion Andrew feels after his grandad passed away. He talks through these emotions with his parents—helping teach your child how to handle these uncomfortable feelings and express similar questions they may be having.
5. Grandma’s Gloves by Cecil Castellucci
If your child has lost a grandparent who loved gardening, plants, or being outdoors, Grandma’s Gloves is a great option. Though it details a granddaughter’s loss of her beloved grandmother, this colorfully illustrated book also describes how she found warmth and comfort in things like greenery and nature.
6. Wishes for One More Day by Melanie Joy Pastor
Suitable for ages as young as five, Wishes for One More Day provides an actionable way of coping with the loss of a grandparent.
Rather than focusing on the sadness that the two main characters might feel, this book is about how they created a pile of wishes for what they would do with their grandfather if he were alive one more day. The mother in the story has them turn it into a whole book, and this is a project you can complete with your child, too.
7. French Toast Sundays by Gloria Spielman
French Toast Sundays talks about a young girl’s loss of her grandmother and how she doesn’t feel like smiling for a while. This gentle book is great for readers as young as four, and can help them realize that it’s okay (and healthy) to try to focus on the good memories they had with a grandparent.
8. Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola
If your family has both living grandparents and great-grandparents, it won’t be easy to lose anyone — especially if they share a household or live close by. But, when the time comes, Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs explores a similar family structure where a young boy, Tommy, must learn to live with the loss of his great-grandmother.
9. Death is Stupid (Ordinary Terrible Things) by Anastasia Higginbotham
Suitable for readers as young as four and as old as 12, Death Is Stupid, explores the emotions of anger, confusion, and fear your child may be feeling after the death of a grandparent. The story specifically follows a boy’s loss of his grandmother, and how spending time in her garden helps him cope.
10. When Your Grandparent Dies: A Child’s Guide to Good Grief by Victoria Ryan
A top-rated option, When Your Grandparent Dies offers insight for children for before, during, and after a grandparent passes away. This book explores the meaning of death and heaven and offers discussion questions that you can explore amongst your family.
11. Where Is Grandpa? by T. A. Barron
If you find that your child is asking the same question after a loss, “Where is Grandma?” or “Where is Grandpa?” the book, Where Is Grandpa? is a great option for ages four and up.
Religious or Spiritual Children’s Books About a Grandparent’s Death
Talking to your kids about the death of a grandparent may not come easily, even if your family has a strong foundation rooted in faith. The following titles can help you explain a loved one’s death through the lens of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam.
12. God Gave Us Heaven by Lisa T. Bergren and Laura J. Bryant
God Gave Us Heaven isn’t specifically about the loss of a grandparent, but, rather, a discussion between a polar bear cub and his papa about what happens when their life on earth is over. Papa answers all of his cub’s questions, and describes God’s love and heaven as a place “full of everything good.”
13. When I’m With Jesus: For Any Child With a Loved One in Heaven by Kimberly Rae
Even if children have questions about heaven when a loved one passes away, they may be hesitant to ask adults. When I’m With Jesus helps describe what heaven is like to both young and older children, and that death isn’t necessarily a sad event, but an opportunity to find joy in the afterlife.
14. Tell Me About Heaven by Randy Alcorn
Tell Me About Heaven would be particularly helpful for a grandparent mourning their spouse and discussing this loss with their grandchild. In this story, Jake becomes more familiar with the concept and beauty of heaven by spending quality time with his grandfather. On their fishing trips, for example, their discussions help Jake understand and find peace with the loss of his grandmother.
15. What’s Heaven? by Maria Shriver
Great for ages as young as five, What’s Heaven? explores the questions a granddaughter has about heaven when she loses her grandmother. This popular title features questions that author Maria Shriver received from her own children and young relatives after the passing of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.
16. What is Heaven Like? by Beverly Lewis
What is Heaven Like? is a great title for curious children. After losing a grandparent, the main characters go on a journey around town to ask family and neighbors this same question, with each person offering insight and a unique perspective.
17. Stones for Grandpa by Renee Loudner
Stones for Grandpa is perfect for children with Jewish heritage as young as five. It explains the custom of leaving stones on a grandfather’s grave. It also helps children focus on the good memories with their grandparents, rather than the sadness of their loss.
18. Happily Ever Hereafter by Noor Kids
Happily Ever Hereafter explores death for kids through the lens of Islam. This book doesn’t specifically discuss the death of a grandparent, but, rather, explains two important Islamic teachings. The first one discusses how life goes on, and is explained to children from their parents’ perspective. The second details how to prepare for the hereafter.
Children’s Books About a Sick or Dying Grandparent
Like death itself, illness is another difficult topic to grasp, even for adults. If a child is witnessing a grandparent falling ill or dealing with a terminal illness, it can certainly be a confusing time. The following titles help your child understand any changes their loved one is undergoing as well as how to cope with them.
19. Little Bear’s Grandad by Nigel Gray
If your child has a close relationship with a grandparent or is struggling with having one in the hospital, Little Bear’s Grandad is a helpful title.
20. Ida, Always by Caron Levis
Though Ida, Always, isn’t specifically about the death of a grandparent, it beautifully explains the difficult process of a loved one becoming terminally ill to readers as young as four. Readers will learn about the friendship of two polar bears, Gus and Ida, who live in a city zoo, as well as how to make the most of each day left with someone who’s sick.
21. Someone I Love is Sick: Helping Very Young Children Cope with Cancer in the Family by Kathleen McCue
Not a traditional book, Someone I Love is Sick is rather described as a customizable tool for children ages two to six if they have a loved one with cancer. This title describes the diagnosis, treatment, hospitalization, recurrence, and end-of-life.
22. The Tide by Clare Helen Walsh
Using the tide as a metaphor, The Tide explores how a young girl comes to understand why her grandfather is sometimes forgetful, but she enjoys their walks on the beach all the same. This title is great for a child whose grandparent has dementia or another memory-related illness.
23. Big Tree is Sick: A Story to Help Children Cope with the Serious Illness of a Loved One by Nathalie Slosse
Big Tree is Sick doesn’t specifically talk about the illness of a grandparent, but it can help children as young as three understand the impact an illness can have on a loved one.
In addition to helping young children understand and process the emotions they may be experiencing due to a sick loved one, this book also provides activities to complete with parents or professionals.
Tough Conversations Made Easier
Though death and illness are two of the hardest lessons to learn about, especially as a child, they’re necessary facts of life.
Starting conversations early on (facilitated by books on this list!) help your child become aware of the circumstances of death and loss, and these skills only benefit them in the long run.
In addition, they can begin to develop healthy coping skills and become more comfortable with uncomfortable emotions that even adults struggle with surrounding grief. You may also find toddler’s books about death helpful for even younger readers.