• 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 Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Julia Denos

    by Rebecca Cobb

    by Elisha Cooper

    by Jeff Gottesfeld, illustrated by Peter McCarty

    by Robie Harris, illustrated by Jan Ormerod

    by Stian Hole

    by Oliver Jeffers

    by Patrice Karst, illustrated by Geoff Stevenson

    by Holly McGhee, illustrated by Pascal Lemaître

    by Cece Meng, illustrated by Jago

    by Bárður Oskarsson

    by Chris Raschka

    by Glenn Ringtved, illustrated by Charlotte Pardi

    by Eric Rohmann

    by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake

    by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

    by Hans Wilhelm

  • more books for kids

    by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

    by Louis Bayard


    by Hervé Bouchard, illustrated by Janice Nadeau

    by Ally Condie

    by Sharon Creech

    by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Alix Delinois

    by India Desjardins, illustrated by Pascal Blanchet

    by Neil Gaiman

    by Dan Gemeinhart

    by Alan Gratz

    by Beth Hautala

    by Polly Horvath

    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 Laurie Halse Anderson

    by Anne-Laure Bondoux

    by Libba Bray

    by Kevin Brooks

    by Julie Buxbaum

    by Chris Crutcher

    by Ursula Dubosarsky

    by Gayle Forman

    by Scot Gardner

    by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Gary Kelley

    by Chris Lynch

    by Gail Jarrow

    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 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

    Our TreeHouse

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

    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. www.campfiresnoco.org/camp/grief-camp/

    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. http://www.nctsn.org

  • 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