Nurturing hearts: books for young children dealing with loss

Nurturing hearts: books for young children dealing with loss

One of the most challenging experiences children can encounter is loss, especially sudden loss of a beloved human or pet, or even sudden changes in their lives like moving home or going to school away from their parents. Books can serve as a gentle guide for young minds navigating complex emotions while they struggle to understand and process their feelings.   As a parent, caregiver, or educator, books can be invaluable tools in helping children cope with loss and grief. Books have a unique ability to foster empathy and understanding in children. When dealing with loss, these carefully crafted stories provide solace, reassurance, and the hope that healing is possible. 

Here are two heartfelt recommendations for books that delicately explore themes of loss and healing for young readers.

The Hare-Shaped Hole by John Dougherty and Thomas Docherty

The Hare-Shaped Hole is a such a gorgeous book. 

Hertle and Bertle were always a pair, though one was a turtle and one was a hare. They were BFFs and totally inseparable, until one day hare wasn’t there and instead left a hare-shaped hole.

When Hertle disappears for good, Bertle can only see a Hertle-shaped hole where his friend should be. He pleads with it, gets angry with it, but the hole still won't bring his friend Hertle back. Bertle is inconsolable...until Gerda the kindly bear finds him. She explains that he must fill the hole with his memories of Hertle. And slowly...Bertle begins to feel a little bit better.

Powerful and moving text from children's author and poet John Dougherty is paired perfectly with warm illustrations from the wonderfully talented Thomas Docherty in a thoughtful and sensitive approach to this difficult topic.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

This is a relatable and reassuring contemporary classic! A mother tells her two children that they're all connected by an invisible string. "That's impossible!" the children insist, but still they want to know more: "What kind of string?" The answer is the simple truth that binds us all: an Invisible String made of love. Even though you can't see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart, and know that you are always connected to the ones you love. Does everybody have an Invisible String? How far does it reach? Does it ever go away? This heartwarming picture book for all ages explores questions about the intangible yet unbreakable connections between us and opens up deeper conversations about love.