Books about Illness and Death

Books can help us face our biggest fears and deepest grief. The following titles are some of my favorite books dealing with illness and death.


Now One Foot, Now the OtherNow One Foot, Now the Other
Tomie dePaola
G. P. Putnam’s Sons

After his grandfather suffers a stroke, Bobby teaches him to walk again—just like his grandfather once taught him.

Ida BIda B. and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World
Katherine Hannigan
Greenwillow Books

The feisty Ida B. struggles to deal with her mother’s cancer and the changes it brings to her idyllic life.

A Pillow for My MomA Pillow for my Mom
Charissa Sgouros
illustrated by Christine Ross
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A girl misses her mother, who is sick and in the hospital.

The Hope TreeThe Hope Tree: Kids Talk
about Breast Cancer

Laura Numeroff, Wendy S. Harpham, M.D.
illustrated by David McPhail
Simon and Schuster

A group of children (depicted as animals) work through the emotions and difficulties they face when a parent has cancer.

Kids Write Through ItKids Write Through It: Essays from Kids who have Triumphed Over Trouble
Fairview Press

Children share personal essays about their struggles through difficult times—from social struggles at school to the serious illness or death of a family member.

Remembering MamaRemembering Mama
Dara Dokas
illustrated by Angela L. Chostner
Augsburg Fortress Publishers

A daughter works through her grief by remembering special details about her mother.


Dog HeavenDog Heaven
Cynthia Rylant
Blue Sky Press

In Dog Heaven, God gives dogs fields for running, along with biscuits in funny shapes and fluffy cloud beds.

Blackberry StewBlackberry Stew
Isabell Monk
illustrated by Janice Lee Porter
Carolrhoda Books

A young girl overcomes her reluctance to attend her grandpa’s funeral by talking about memories of their time together.

Jim's Dog MuffinsJim’s Dog Muffins
Miriam Cohen
illustrated by Ronald Himler
Star Bright Books

Jim’s classmates struggle to help him feel better after the death of his dog Muffins.

Nana Upstairs and Nana DownstairsNana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs
Tomie dePaola
Penguin Putnam

A young boy must say goodbye to his beloved great-grandmother.

I'll Always Love YouI’ll Always Love You
Hans Wilhelm
Crown Publishers

A young boy deals with the death of his dog—the “best dog in the whole world.”


Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved OneHelping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One: A Guide for Grownups
William C. Kroen, Ph.D., LMHC
Free Spirit Publishing



Living with GriefLiving with Grief: Children and Adolescents
Edited by Kenneth J. Doka and Amy S. Tucci
Hospice Foundation of America



Emma's Question

written by Catherine Urdahl
illustrated by Janine Dawson
Charlesbridge, 2006

Find this book at your public library
or your favorite used bookseller.

Click on the following links for additional resources on helping children deal with illness and death. If you have found some other useful resources, please contact me.

Books about Death and Grief, compiled by educators, published in Bookology magazine.