National Grief Awareness Day
National Grief Awareness Day offers support to those who may have experienced loss and aims to educate those who may not have about its realities. Grief not only extends to the death of a loved one, but it can also apply when describing the loss of socio-economic stability, the loss of a friendship, or even a significant health event.
These book recommendations may offer solace to your students or patrons experiencing a life-changing event and to their family and friends who may be seeking to understand and help. #GriefAwarenessDay.
Calling the Wind By Trudy Ludwig; illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi
Inspired by the Wind Telephone in Japan, this poignant story explores the stages of grief, the healing power of hope, and the unbreakable family bonds that connect us all. From the acclaimed author of The Invisible Boy and the award-winning illustrator of One.
A Place Where Hurricanes Happen By Renee Watson; illustrated by Shadra Strickland
Children of New Orleans tell about their experiences of Hurricane Katrina through poignant and straightforward free verse in this fictional account of the storm. As natural and man-made disasters become commonplace, we increasingly need books like this one to help children contextualize and discuss difficult and often tragic events.
You Are Always Loved By Madeleine Dean and Harry Cunnane; illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
This deeply felt picture book from Congresswoman Madeleine Dean and her son Harry–authors of the memoir Under Our Roof–reassures children that, even when the grown-ups in their life are absent, they are loved and enough as they are.
Lasting Love By Caroline Wright; illustrated by Willow Heath
This gorgeous picture-book meditation on loss and family love is a useful tool for children navigating a first experience with death.
The Tiny Star By Mem Fox; illustrated by Freya Blackwood
A beautiful and gentle story about life and death from beloved author Mem Fox, illustrated by rising star Freya Blackwood; its star imagery, and sense of rebirth make it a perfect choice for the holiday season.
Shelter By Christie Matheson
A heart-wrenching middle grade debut that considers homelessness from one girl’s perspective and explores deep truths about the resounding impact of empathy. Perfect for fans of One for the Murphys and Paper Things.
Into the Glades By Laura Sebastian
New York Times bestselling author Laura Sebastian makes her middle grade debut with an emotional fantasy adventure about four friends who journey through a magical, Everglades-inspired swampland to break a curse tied to the death of a loved one.
Ghostlight By Kenneth Oppel
Gabe’s summer job scaring tourists with ghost stories turns terrifyingly real when he accidentally summons the spirit of a dead girl—and must join forces with her to protect the world of the living.
If You Read This By Kereen Getten
From the author of the critically acclaimed novel When Life Gives You Mangos comes a captivating journey of love, loss, and letters. In this poignant coming-of-age story of new memories, surprises, and moments of healing, Kereen Getten beautifully captures the edge of adolescence, when everything is thrilling, amazing, and terrifying in a way it will never be again.
Dead Wednesday By Jerry Spinelli
Can playing dead bring you back to life? Maybe on Dead Wednesday… On this day the worlds of a shy boy and a gone girl collide, and the connection they make will change them both forever. A brilliant new novel from the Newbery Medal winner and author of the New York Times bestseller Stargirl.
What Comes Next By Rob Buyea
From the beloved author of the MR. TERUPT and PERFECT SCORE series comes this stand-alone middle-grade novel about a girl who is dealing with the tragic loss of her best friend, and the dog that helps her forge new friendships and find happiness once again.
The Natural Genius of Ants By Betty Culley
A summer ant farm grows into a learning experience for the entire family in this lyrical coming-of-age story from the award-winning author of Down to Earth.
“Endearingly executed, this gentle tale will see readers applauding as they reach the end.” –Booklist, Starred Review
When Life Gives You Mangos By Kereen Getten
“A heartwarming yet suspenseful debut about the strength of family, the turmoil of friendships lost and found, and most importantly, remembering who you are.”
—Lynne Kelly, author of the Schneider award winner Song for a Whale
Inspired by the author’s childhood experiences, When Life Give You Mangos is a celebration of island life as well as a rich, lyrical mystery.
An endearing story of love and grief as one girl follows the clues in a scavenger hunt left behind by her best friend, perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Nine, Ten.
When You Trap a Tiger By Tae Keller
Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.
“If stories were written in the stars … this wondrous tale would be one of the brightest.” –Booklist, Starred Review
A deeply felt sibling story set in a town where people have a mysterious magical power and one girl is determined to discover what it is, for readers of Lauren Myracle and Ingrid Law.
The Stars Beneath Our Feet By David Barclay Moore
A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death in this outstanding debut novel that celebrates community and creativity.
“The Stars Beneath Our Feet is about the weight of the world on the back of a child, and the creative tools necessary to alleviate that pressure. I found myself rooting for Lolly, and you will too.” —Jason Reynolds, Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner for As Brave As You
The Warden's Daughter By Jerry Spinelli
From Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli comes the story of a girl searching for happiness inside the walls of a prison. And don’t miss the author’s highly anticipated new novel, Dead Wednesday!
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill By Megan Shepherd
“Deserves a spot on the shelf next to the most beloved children’s classics—yes, even The Secret Garden.” —Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
Described as “reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia” in a starred review, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill shows readers everywhere that there is color in our world—they just need to know where to look.
All Three Stooges By Erica S. Perl
An unforgettable coming-of-age story about comedy, loss, and friendship for fans of Jennifer L. Holm and Gary D. Schmidt.
“A welcome portrayal of a very difficult situation’s impact on someone not ready to deal with it—and there are plenty of funny moments to make it all easier to take.”–Horn Book
The Distance to Home By Jenn Bishop
“Recommend this poignant novel to fans of Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park and The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin” (School Library Journal). It’s a heartwarming celebration of sisterhood and summertime, and of finding the courage to get back in the game.
The Seventh Most Important Thing By Shelley Pearsall
This “luminescent” (Kirkus Reviews) story of anger and art, loss and redemption will appeal to fans of Lisa Graff’s Lost in the Sun and Vince Vawter’s Paperboy.
“A moving exploration of how there is often so much more than meets the eye.” —Booklist, starred review
Not As We Know It By Tom Avery
For fans of David Almond’s Skellig and Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, here is a lyrical, atmospheric, and deeply emotional middle-grade novel with a touch of magical realism.
“A hauntingly beautiful story about brotherly bonds, wrenching grief, and the untethered hope that everything will somehow work out.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
The Fourteenth Goldfish By Jennifer L. Holm
With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility. Look for EXCLUSIVE NEW MATERIAL in the paperback—including Ellie’s gallery of scientists and other STEM-appropriate features.
In the Wild Light By Jeff Zentner
A poignant coming-of-age novel about two best friends whose friendship is tested when they get the opportunity to leave their impoverished small town for an elite prep school. For fans of Looking for Alaska.
Smoke By Darcy Woods
What lines would you cross to save someone you love? Filled with the kinds of impossible choices that made the TV show Weeds such a hit, this compelling drama asks to what lengths an avid rule-follower will go in order to save her family–and the answer involves “growing” in surprising directions.
When You Were Everything By Ashley Woodfolk
For fans of Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay and Adam Silvera’s History Is All You Left Me, this heartfelt and ultimately uplifting novel follows one sixteen-year-old girl’s friend breakup through two concurrent timelines–ultimately proving that even endings can lead to new beginnings.
“Stunning.” –Nic Stone, bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out