The Classroom Bookshelf
Inside The Classroom Bookshelf

Children’s Books on Grief and Loss

We are reeling in response to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. As we struggle to make sense of this loss, we are anticipating the questions that our children may have as our nation grieves over the next few days and weeks. One of our most immediate response is to begin to explore resources that identify books that may help us to think and talk about this tragedy. As we move through this holiday season, none of us will go untouched by these events and we all need to think about how we will turn our grief into action.  

We know that over the next few days and weeks educators and counselors will be gathering resources to guide us as we talk with our children. The links and titles below represent a start in that process and we hope that you, our readers, will use the comment feature to share other helpful resources that you come across.

Our hearts ache for the families of those lost and for all of us as we struggle to process this tragedy. At this time of the year when we reflect on all that we cherish and prepare to begin anew in the New Year, we wish you peace and solace. May you find comfort in loved ones and in caring words, like those of Deborah Chandra:


I like the way they looked down from the sky
And didn’t seem to mind the way I cried.

And didn’t say, “Now wipe away those tears,”
Or, “Tell us, tell us what’s the matter here!”

But shining through the dark they calmly stayed,
And gently held me in their quiet way.

I felt them watching over me, each one –
And let me cry and cry till I was done.

Chandra, D. (2003). “Stars”. In G. Heard (ed.), This place I know: Poems of comfort. (p. 10). Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.

Children’s and Young Adult Book Lists

50 Books About Grief and Loss
The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) in Madison, Wisconsin, has a variety of bibliographies on topics of interest to schools and families.

50 Books About Peace and Social Justice

Jane Addams Children’s Book Award
Each year, the Jane Addams Book Award and Honor book designations “are given annually to the children’s books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.”

Children’s Books on Death & Dying from the American Psychological Association (APA)

Books on the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights
In 2008, two books were published commemorating the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Amnesty International. (2008). We are all born free. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

National Geographic. (2008). Every human has rights: What you need to know about your human rights. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

Digital Resources

Sesame Workshop:
Dealing with Grief


Scholastic Website: Children & Grief

Children and Grief, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

PBS: Talking with Kids About Scary News

National Association of School Psychologists 

NCTE: Responding 

New York Times Learning Blog Resources 

NAEYC Statement 
NAEYC Resources: Coping with Violence 

National Public Radio: Tragedy and Children

American Academy of Pediatrics,-Children-and-Others-Cope-in-the-Aftermath-of-School-Shootings.aspx 

Mary Ann Cappiello About Mary Ann Cappiello

Mary Ann is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former public school language arts and humanities teacher, she is a passionate advocate for and commentator on children’s books. Mary Ann is the co-author of Teaching with Text Sets (2013) and Teaching to Complexity (2015) and Text Sets in Action: Pathways Through Content Area Literacy (Stenhouse, 2021). She has been a guest on public radio and a consultant to public television. From 2015-2018, Mary Ann was a member of the National Council of Teachers of English's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction (K-8) Committee, serving two years as chair.


  1. Thank you!

  2. Thank you!

  3. thanks from a Woodsville,NH cohort member.

  4. Thank You!

  5. This is a wonderful list. I have added many of these books to my books to order list for teacher read alouds. Thank you so much!

  6. Thank you, IRA, for giving us a place to turn for assistance in this dark time. There is such a heavy spirit across our nation and you have given us a ray of hope through the voices of literature. An IRA Member in Jacksonville, Alabama

  7. Thank you. I shared it on my blog and Facebook page.