Below are a selection of books on bereavement and Loss recommended by RainbowsGB.

We will add further recommendations over time and would be delighted to review any books you may like to recommend for inclusion, please contact our National Director Sharon Melia-Craven: .

If you would like to purchase any of the books previewed below then just enter the Title in your preferred “Search Engine” for buying options.


Rain Before Rainbows

by Smriti Halls (Author), David Litchfield (Illustrator)

In the midst of rain, rainbows can be hard to see. But with courage and the help of good friends, there is always a way out of darkness.

A girl and her companion fox travel together from a place of loss and despair, through uncertain times, towards the hope of colour, light and life. Along the way, they find friends to guide and support them. Together, they build a glorious future and discover there is a way out of the darkness, into the light of the rainbow. A book with immense hope at its heart, this is a positive message for anyone who’s ever gone through a tough time.

3 to 9 years.

Smriti Halls

Smriti Prasadam-Halls is an award-winning, internationally bestselling British author whose books for children include I LOVE YOU NIGHT AND DAY (Publisher’s Weekly #1 bestseller, Wall Street Journal bestseller), THE WAYS OF THE WOLF (English Association Non-Fiction Winner) and DON’T CALL ME SWEET (Booktrust Treasure Pack).

Smriti worked for the BBC and across children’s publishing and television for twelve years, as a writer and commissioning editor. She began writing books of her own in 2012 and is now published in more than 30 languages worldwide. Smriti lives and works in London with her husband and three sons.

I’d love to see Rain Before Rainbows included on your RainbowsGB Website”
Smriti Halls


Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

by Michael Rosen (Author), Quentin Blake (Illustrator)

Very occasionally the term non-fiction has to stretch itself to accommodate a book that fits into no category at all. Michael Rosen’s Sad Book is such a book. It chronicles Michael’s grief at the death of his son Eddie from meningitis at the age of 19. A moving combination of sincerity and simplicity, it acknowledges that sadness is not always avoidable or reasonable and perfects the art of making complicated feelings plain. It wasn’t made like any other book either; Michael Rosen said of the text, ” I wrote it at a moment of extreme feeling and it went straight down onto the page … Quentin didn’t illustrate it, he ‘realized’ it. He turned the text into a book and as a result showed me back to myself. No writer could ask and get more than that.” And Quentin Blake says that the picture of Michael “being sad but trying to look happy” is the most difficult drawing he’s ever done… “a moving experience.”

6 – 19 years

About Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen, an English poet, scriptwriter, broadcaster, and performer, has been writing for children since 1970. He lives in London with his wife and five children.


The Grief Jar

Written & illustrated by Lynsey Shaw

The Grief Jar is a heart warming book for children about a little bear’s journey with grief – of human nature and the kindness of friends.

The story begins with Bear sitting in a room alone with a big heavy jar filled with feelings that he can’t move by himself. His friends want him to come out and play but they can see that he’s sad and don’t know what to do. Each animal friend comes in to see if they can help, and one by one ask him about his Daddy. As Bear shares stories about his Daddy, he begins to feel he may be able to lift the jar if he can get a little help from his friends. They begin to assist him in carrying his jar, coming up with practical ways to make it easier to carry whilst sharing memories of his Daddy.

3-8 Years

Publisher : Bear & Goose Designs

“The Grief Jar is beautifully illustrated with loveable characters. This will be an invaluable resource for us and for anyone who wants to engage with children about their grief.” Balloons Charity, Exeter

“The Grief Jar is a moving tale about the warmth of human nature and the kindness of friends. A sensitively told story about the feelings of loss, beautifully illustrated and appealing to both children and adults. I will be recommending it.”
Eleanor Clarke, National Co-Director, Rainbows Bereavement Support GB

“The Grief Jar is a delightful book that demonstrates how, with the help of friends, and sharing memories children can begin to manage their feelings, and not feel so overwhelmed by their grief. The delightful illustrations and gentle story are uplifting and will be so beneficial for many bereaved families to read together. We will definitely be adding it to our resources list!” Julie Parker, CEO, Penhaligon’s Friends, Cornwall

Lynsey Shaw is an Author, Illustrator and Graphic Designer from Devon, UK

Lynsey lost her father in June 2020 during the height of the pandemic and felt compelled to create children’s book The Grief Jar to break down some of the barriers with regards to conversations on grief and loss.

The Grief Jar is her first children’s picture book as Author/Illustrator having illustrated three previous children’s books for other authors. These include Counting all the Sheep, Ned King of the Skies & Ned’s Grand Quest.

Lynsey lives in Plymouth with her husband and young daughter and enjoys hiding her daughter’s much beloved soft toy “Ridgy” (a unicorn) within the pages of every book she illustrates.

Her other work is in surface pattern design for children’s clothes and more examples of her work can be seen at:, on Instagram @bearandgoosedesigns and Facebook @bearandgoose

Grief and loss are subjects that tend to be avoided in society, and the aim of The Grief Jar is to normalise the conversation and to break down the barriers of communication particularly in children and to emphasise that talking through our feelings should be encouraged. Rainbows GB was the first charity to enthusiastically support the creation of The Grief Jar, helping to raise awareness of the crowdfunder that facilitated its eventual printing and publishing. I’m proud to be recommended by them and for these books to go out to the families that need it.



The Hare-Shaped Hole

Written by John Dougherty & illustrated by Thomas Docherty

The Hare-Shaped Hole is a beautiful, touching, and poignant picture book which gently explores themes of grief and loss.

Hertle and Bertle were always a pair, though one was a turtle and one was a hare. They were utterly buddies, and best friends forever and whenever you looked, you would find them together… until quite unexpectedly… the end came.

When Hertle disappears for good, Bertle can only see a Hertle-shaped hole where his friend should be. He pleads with it, get angry with it, but the hole still won’t bring his Hertle back. It seems like hope is lost… 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.

This moving picture book can be used as part of a gentle conversation about death and grief with children.

Publisher : Frances Lincoln Children’s Books  (for ages 3-5 Years)

John Dougherty was born in Larne, Northern Ireland, and grew up to become a teacher (the nice sort) before turning to writing stories and poetry for children. He now lives in England with his two children.

John’s also a singer, a songwriter, a published poet, and a seasoned schools and festival performer with all the skills necessary to have a crowd of kids helpless with laughter one minute, and ready to leave the hall quietly and sensibly the next. He’s visited schools and festivals from Swindon to Sydney, from Milan to Mumbai, and his appearance before a crowd of 1700 children and teachers at the 2017 Hay Festival was live-streamed to 900 primary school

Thomas Docherty is an author and illustrator of children’s books based in Swansea. His first book, The Little Boat, was shortlisted for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal, and his books have been translated into over 25 languages.

Loss is a universal experience, and one of The Hare-Shaped Hole’s central messages is that while grief is unavoidable, it is survivable. I’m very thankful for the work of organisations like RainbowsGB who – like Gerda, the wise bear in the story – help children to deal with bereavement in all its forms, and very grateful that they’ve chosen to recommend The Hare-Shaped Hole as a story that might, in turn, help in the vital work they do. 

John Dougherty


The Rabbit Listened

Written and Illustrated By

Cori Doerrfeld

The Rabbit Listened :

When something sad happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn’t feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to act, and one by one they fail to offer comfort. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen . . . which is just what Taylor needs

Publisher: Scallywag Press

With its spare, poignant text and irresistibly sweet illustrations, this book is about how to comfort and heal the people in your life, by taking the time to carefully, lovingly, gently just listen.
(Penguin Random House)

40 pages, colour illustrations, for ages 3-5 years old

There is a big piece of my heart and soul in every book I work on, so I support them all equally. I do, however, acknowledge that sometimes a book, like The Rabbit Listened, hits just the right note at the right time. I have been so humbled and honoured by how that book has been received and am very happy for “The Rabbit Listened” to be included on the Rainbows GB recommended books page.

Cori Doerrfeld


You’ll Find Me

By Amanda Rawson Hill

Illustrator Joanne Lew- Vriethoff

Absence becomes remembrance in this soothing book that offers tender ways to pay tribute throughout daily life to a loved one who is not around. Be it friends, family, pets, or others, memories can carry us beyond the precious moments we have together to keep the ones we love in mind always. Loss becomes remembrance in this book that offers tender ways to pay tribute to, and meaningfully incorporate, a loved one’s lost presence into present and future life experiences. Be it departed friends, family, pets, and more, memories can carry us beyond the precious moments we have together to keep the ones we loved before in mind forever.

Throughout the book the omnipresent narrator encourages thoughtful reflection on the empty spaces left by the loss. The gentle scenes portrayed inspire recovery from sadness and honor those who are absent. This lyrical heartful story provides consent and gently encourage readers to move to a place of peace and acceptance despite the absence.

Distributer EUROSPAN Publisher Magination Press

EUROSPAN Book Store discount for Schools and Readers. 20% discount + free standard delivery Order at

Use code: TWENTY (valid indefinitely on all purchases)

Amanda Rawson Hill runs a newsletter called Middle Grade at Heart, which is a book club kit with a new middle-grade book each month. Her debut middle-grade book was published in Fall 2018. She lives in Atwater, California.

I wrote You’ll Find Me after witnessing my brother-in-law slowly die of cancer. He left behind a young daughter, my niece, and figuring out the right way to say goodbye was just too much in all the pain. I hope this book can help children and parents discuss death, grief, and learning how to live and love afterwards. It’s an honour to have it recommended here. 

Amanda Rawson Hill 


The Gift of Gerbert’s Feathers

Meaghann Weaver (author)
Lori Wiener (author)
Mikki Butterly (illustrator)

Gerbert the gosling is strong and brave and has fun times with his family and friends but knows that, one day soon, he won’t be able to keep up with them anymore. As Gerbert prepares for his final migration, he finds a way to show his flock that he will always be with them.

Most books that address loss or grief are specific to a parent, grandparent, or pet. The readers will get to know Gerbert while he is well and will experience the changes he undergoes as he comes to accept that he won’t live forever. The gentle tone of the story will allow readers to come to understand death as a concept and a way to participate in the experience (whether the child reader is preparing for/adjusting to the loss of a pet, a relative, a neighbour or whether the child reader is learning about natural end of life as a universal reality). The emphasis on family love and shared human values avails the book as a ready resource for families across creed and culture.

Distributer EUROSPAN Publisher Magination Press

EUROSPAN Book Store discount for Schools and Readers. 20% discount + free standard delivery Order at

Use code: TWENTY (valid indefinitely on all purchases)

Meaghann Weaver, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a paediatric oncologist and Chief of the Division of Palliative Care at the Children’s Hospital and Medical Centre in Omaha, Nebraska. She works with a wonderful interdisciplinary Hand in Hand team which strives to foster the strengths and graces of children and families in the Heartland. Dr. Weaver’s favourite life moments are spent painting, dancing, cooking, and gardening with her amazing daughter, Bravery. Dr. Weaver dreams of one day returning to Africa with her family.

Lori Wiener, PhD, DCSW, is co-director of the Behavioural Science Core and Head of the Psychosocial Support and Research Program at the paediatric oncology branch of the National Cancer Institute. As both a clinician and behavioural scientist, Dr. Wiener has dedicated her career to applying what she has learned from her work with seriously ill children and their families to create new therapeutic, communication, and educational tools. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her family and several animals, including a pup named Tessa, a rescue cat named Tupelo, and a pond filled with goldfish, koi and noisy frogs. One of Dr. Wiener’s favourite pastimes is photographing the migration of snow geese. 


Something Very Sad Happened

By Bonnie Zucker

Illustrator:   Kim Fleming 

When a loved one dies, it can be hard to know how to explain it to a young child, particularly if you are grieving the loss yourself. Sensitively written and gently illustrated, Something Very Sad Happened explains death in developmentally appropriate terms for two-and three-year-old children. It reassures the child that it is okay to feel sad, and that love never dies.

Distributer EUROSPAN Publisher Magination Press

EUROSPAN Book Store discount for Schools and Readers. 20% discount + free standard delivery Order at

Use code: TWENTY (valid indefinitely on all purchases)

Bonnie Zucker, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist in private practice. She received her undergraduate degree from George Washington University, USA, her master’s degree from the University of Baltimore, USA, and her doctoral degree from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, USA.

Dr Zucker specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders and is the author of Anxiety-Free Kids and Take Control of OCD and, co-author of Resilience Builder Program for Children & Adolescents and two relaxation CDs.


The Land of Neverendings

By Kate Saunders

When Emily’s sister Holly dies, she is surprised to find that she misses her toy bear, Bluey, almost as much as Holly. Bluey was Holly’s constant companion, and Emily used to make up stories about him and his escapades in the magical (and very silly) world of Smockeroon to entertain her. And the only person who seems to understand Emily’s grief is Ruth, her kindly next-door neighbour.

But then very strange things start to happen. Emily dreams of talking toys visiting her bedroom, telling her that they have come from Smockeroon, and have a message for her from Bluey. A terrible black toad, who stinks of sadness, begins to stalk Ruth’s house. And when a parade of penguins wearing plastic moustaches marches through their kitchen – well, Emily has to begin to wonder whether this is all a dream after all. But why are the toys here, and what could Bluey possibly be trying to tell her?

This stunning novel will tickle your funny bones as much as it pulls on your heartstrings and is a true classic in the making.

Recommended reading age : 9 to 12 yrs

Publisher :

Kate Saunders is an English author, actress and journalist. She has worked for newspapers and magazines in the UK, including The Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph, She and Cosmopolitan and has written multiple books for children and adults

‘When I was writing The Land of Neverendings, I could see how tough it was for a child to experience bereavement when there is almost no way to talk about death in this society where we all pretend it doesn’t exist. Accessing books that help to normalise bereavement and loss and offering programmes of peer-to-peer support is something I am delighted to support’. 

Kate Saunders


Why Do Things Die

By Katie Daynes

Illustrator Christine Pym

A beautiful and gentle look at the circle of life, using Christine Pym’s gorgeous animals characters to explore the emotions and facts around death, with questions such as Is it ok to talk about dying? What happens when someone dies? Can I shout and cry and hide away? and how can I stop feeling sad?

Publisher : Usborne

Recommended reading age : Primary (Reception Year 1 and Year 2)

Katie Daynes

My brother Jo died in a car crash when he was 18. I can vividly remember the moment 16-year-old me received the news – and the days, nights, weeks and months of heartache that followed. Poetry and novels helped. Knowing I wasn’t alone in my grief helped. Treasuring Jo’s memory helped. Over 25 years later, when I was given the chance to write a children’s book about coping with death, I grasped it with both hands.

I wanted to use simple honesty and tender examples to create a useful tool for both children and adults. Working closely with the wonderful illustrator, Christine Pym, we created a cast of characters who could put a voice to all those questions that explode in your head when someone dies. We also had the experienced child psychologist Dr. Sasha Lillie Lyons on hand for advice, guidance and extra words of wisdom.

Katie Daynes

“I’m really pleased that RainbowsGB have chosen to feature our book on their website. I hope it can support the hugely important work they do, helping children to make it through the hardest times in their young lives.”


          The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates

By Jenny Pearson

Rob Biddulph (Illustrator) 

Freddie Yate’s journey is packed with outrageous escapades that somehow ring true. He’s a very endearing character and the bond between him and his friends is touching and believable. It’s a well-written story that pulls no punches.

Publisher : Usborne

Recommended reading age : 9 to 12 Years

Jenny Pearson :

I wrote The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates following the death of my step-father and the discussions that followed with my children – his grandchildren. Death is something that we don’t always like to talk about, but as teachers, supporting children who are going through a bereavement is something that most of us will experience. And we have a responsibility to do that to the best of our ability. Through reading and sharing stories we are able to open up discussions with our classes which help build empathy and understanding

Jenny Pearson:

I am honoured that Freddie Yates is featured on the Rainbows Bereavement Support group website and I hope that the message I tried to convey ,that even though someone is no longer with us, we can still love them, might help. “


The Shark Caller

  By Zillah Bethell

Dive beneath the waves with this spell-binding adventure of friendship, forgiveness and bravery, set on the shores of Papua New Guinea, perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell and Eva Ibbotson.

“I want to be able to call the sharks. Teach me the magic and show me the ways.”

Blue Wing is desperate to become a shark caller, but instead she must befriend infuriating newcomer Maple, who arrives unexpectedly on Blue Wing’s island.

At first, the girls are too angry to share their secrets and become friends. But when the tide breathes the promise of treasure, they must journey together to the bottom of the ocean to brave the deadliest shark of them all…

Publisher : Usborne

Recommended reading age : 9 yrs +

Zillah Bethell

Rainbows does the most crucial work, and I’m truly honoured that The Shark Caller can be a part of that.”


Storm in a Jar

By Samuel Langley-Swain

Illustrated by Katie Cottle

Arlo visited Nana every Sunday. She would always have new sweets waiting for him inside a special jar. When Arlo finds out Nana has passed away, he keeps the jar with him to feel safe and closer to his Nana. As his sadness turns to anger, a storm builds inside the jar, until Arlo has enough and smashes it open! After the storm washes him out to sea, Arlo spots Nana sailing off into the
moonlight. He knows she will be happy and safe, wherever she is headed.  This book is  a vital resource to families who are trying to navigate the emotional aftermath of any kind of loss. It shows us that all types of feelings are real and valid.

Recommended reading age : 3 to 7 Years

Publisher: Childrens Books | Owlet Press

Samuel Langley-Swain

I wrote The ‘Storm in a Jar’ to initially explore the build-up of anger, experienced through the eyes of a child. It came from a fantastic metaphor my adopted son used to describe his own built-up anger. After my great grandmother passed away, I decided to integrate grief into the story and used imagery from a nightmare that my friend’s child had about black jellyfish, and a dream I had about my great-grandmother sailing off into the moon, to thread the story together. She lived to 102 so it was a great point of reflection for me, being able to focus more on my son’s grief, losing his first family member. I wrote the book with an hour of her passing and unlike other books which create a metaphor for death, this book focusses on the emotional journey that follows.

Samuel :

I am so pleased to have Storm in a Jar on the Rainbows Bereavement Support Group reading list as it will offer a vital resource to families who are trying to navigate the emotional aftermath of loss. It shows us that all types of feelings are real and valid.