Summer Reading List for Kids

Author: Jonathan Kirkendall

I was lucky enough to have a mom that loved to read to us as we grew up, so it’s no surprise that when I began as a group leader at Good Grief Camps, I turned to books to help the kids talk about their own grief. Over the years, I come back to many of the same books over and over again. My strong suggestion is that you read them first before reading them out loud to your kids – some of them are very moving!

Summer Reading

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf
By Leo Buscaglia

A lovely parable for all ages, children to adults, illustrating the life cycle from birth to death through the life of a leaf.

By Jo Empson

Beautifully illustrated, this book tells the story of an artist rabbit whose disappearance brings drabness to the forest inhabitants - until they descend into a dark hole and discover the gifts left for them.

The Invisible String
By Patrice Karst

A story that tells of the tie that really binds in a simple approach to overcoming the fear of loneliness or separation.

Tear Soup
By Pat Schweibert

The book tells how people are afraid to approach someone who's grieving, and how people who try to be helpful, sometimes are not. A lovely book that invites all the emotions of grief. 

Knock Knock 
By Daniel Beatty

Love this powerful, heartfelt book of a boy whose father is suddenly gone, the love he leaves behind, and the natural resiliency of children. 

I Miss You
By Pat Thomas

A great book for preschoolers, this story explores and normalizes the feelings of  grief for these little ones. 

Help Me Say Goodbye
By Janis Silverman

A grief activity book for children, this is also a handy resource for parents and teachers. I've used activities from this book every year at Good Grief Camp. 

Dog Heaven
By Cynthia Rylant

A simple, beautifully illustrated book about dog heaven. More than just a book about where dogs go when they die, this book invites children into a conversation about death and grieving. 

Mark's Special Mission
By Gregory Keeney

This book eloquently explains the circumstances, pageantry and the ceremonial nature of the U.S. Army Old Guard Caisson Platoon's mission in Arlington National Cemetery. The book teaches healing through relationships, compassion through recognition and reverence for the nation's fallen warriors and their family.  

By Jonathan Kirkendall, MA