• not if but when

    books for young people about death and loss

  • what we do

    encourage and support sharing good books and stories about death and loss with children and teens throughout their lives

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    not if but when

    Death is a natural part of our time on earth together. Each of us will lose people important to us, and each of us will die. The question is not if, but when.

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    young people need help

    Children and teens facing the loss of friends and family, or their own mortality, need help navigating the emotional, physical, and practical upheavals and restorations that are part of the natural process. Books offer opportunities to ask questions, wonder, and simply acknowledge the realities of their circumstances.

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    the sooner the better

    We tend to broach the subject of death with young people only after death has occurred or becomes imminent. By "protecting" children from these conversations we inadvertently prevent them from acquiring the skills and context necessary to make sense of death when it does arrive. Introducing the subject through books and stories provides a safe and comfortable context for these important conversations.

  • more books for littles

    by Julia Alvarez, illustrated by Sabra Field

    by CharlotteAngell, illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez

    by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Julia Denos

    by Rebecca Cobb

    by Elisha Cooper

    by John Dougherty, illustrated by Thomas Docherty

    by Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson

    by Federico Gastaldi

    by Jeff Gottesfeld, illustrated by Peter McCarty

    by Robie Harris, illustrated by Jan Ormerod

    by Stian Hole

     by Naseem Hrab, illustrated by Nahid Kazemi

    by A.J. Irvin, illustrated by Claudia Navarro

    by Oliver Jeffers

    by Patrice Karst, illustrated by Geoff Stevenson

    by Jackie Azúa Kramer, illustrated by Cindy Derby

    by Caron Levis, illustrated by Charles Santoso

    by Lee Juck, illustrated by Sŭng-yŏn Kim

    by Brian Lies

    by Azam Mahdavi, illustrated by Maryam Tahmasebi

    by Holly McGhee, illustrated by Pascal Lemaître

    by Cece Meng, illustrated by Jago

    by Saira Mir, illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani

    by Chris Raschka

    by Caroline Kusin Pritchard

    by Glenn Ringtved, illustrated by Charlotte Pardi

    by Eric Rohmann

    by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake

    by Maya Soetoro-Ng, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

    by Tamara Ellis Smith, illustrated by Nancy Whitesides

    by Brynjulf Jung Tjønn, illustrated by Øyvind Torseter

    by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

  • more books for kids

    by John David Anderson

    by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

    by Louis Bayard

    by Ally Condie

    by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Alix Delinois

    by India Desjardins, illustrated by Pascal Blanchet

    by Esther Ehrlich

    by Neil Gaiman

    by Lisa Graff

    by Alan Gratz

    by Beth Hautala

    by Polly Horvath

    by Misuzu Kaneko, illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri

    by Suzanne LaFleur

    by Stéphanie Lapointe

    by Lois Lowry

    by George Ella Lyon

    by Sharelle Byars Moranville

    by Katherine Paterson

    by Sara Pennypacker

    by Jewell Parker Rhodes

    by Margriet Ruurs, illustrated by Nizar Ali Badr

    by Cynthia Rylant

    by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

    by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    by Felix Salten

    by E. B. White

    by Rite Williams-Garcia

    by Jacqueline Woodson

  • more books for teens

    by David Almond

    by K. Ancrum

    by Laurie Halse Anderson

    by Anne-Laure Bondoux

    by Libba Bray

    by Kevin Brooks

    by Julie Buxbaum

    by J.C. Cervantes

    by Chris Crutcher

    by Ursula Dubosarsky

    by Gayle Forman

    by Scot Gardner

    by Gail Jarrow

    by Jarrett Krosoczka

    by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Gary Kelley

    by Chris Lynch

    by Hannah Moskowitz

    by Greg Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurke

    by Patrick Ness

    by Marieke Nijkamp

    by Jennifer Niven

    by Gavriel Savit

    by Gary D. Schmidt

    by Neal Shusterman

    by Craig Silvey

    by Laura Rose Wagner

    by Jesper Wung-Sung

    by Markus Zusak

  • presentations

    we engage with educators, librarians, parents, healthcare workers, clergy, and other community members dedicated to young people's comfort and integrity

    Our presentations cover the developmental stages of young people's awareness and understanding of death, elements of extraordinary storytelling and bookmaking, and considerations as to how books might resonate with a young audience beyond bibliotherapy.

    A full presentation lasts roughly 90 minutes, including time for questions, conversation, and book examination at the end. We are happy to tailor the presentation to your needs and are open to in-person and virtual discussions.

    To inquire about a presentation simply get in touch through the contact form at the bottom of the website.

  • additional resources

    we recommend these agencies for further assistance and support

    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

    A national institute serving young people in trauma

    The mission of the NCTSN is to raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families and communities throughout the United States



    Courageous Parents Network

    Courageous Parents Network is a non-profit organization that orients and empowers parents and others caring for children with serious medical conditions, by providing resources and tools that reflect the experience and perspective of other families and clinicians.


    CPN | Courageous Parents Network

    Our TreeHouse

    Our TreeHouse provides a safe environment where children and their families grieving a death can share their experiences and help them heal.



    Camp Killoqua’s Camp Willie

    A Grief Camp for Children in grades 2-12
    This camp for children who have lost someone they love provides children with the additional support they need to get through through the isolation often associated with grief.


    Grief Camp | Camp Fire (campkilloqua.org)

    Camp Kaleidoscope

    A project of Whatcom Hospice, Camp Kaleidoscope is a free weekend sleepover camp for children ages 6-12 grieving the death of a significant person in their life.


    Camp Kaleidoscope - Whatcom Hospice

  • nibw team

    we are dedicated to meaningful considerations of grief, mourning, and peace through literature

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    Marie Eaton is the former Dean of Western Washington University's Fairhaven College and currently serves as Director of the Palliative Care Institute.

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    Sylvia is a Librarian and Associate Professor at Western Washington University where she is founding curator of PoetryCHaT, a comprehensive collection of poetry for children and teens.

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    Thom is the Youth Services Manager at the Whatcom County Library System where he oversees collections, programs, and services for children and teens.

  • get in touch

    if you'd like to schedule a presentation, or have something you'd like us to know, feel free to drop us a line

  • give us a hand

    let us know about your favorite books that present death and loss to a young audience