Monday, March 7, 2011

Children's Books on Grief: Gandma I'll Miss You

This is the final selection on this mini series on children's books that deal with grief.  I'm sure we'll review more books in the future, however these were the 5 books my local rural library had on hand.  It ended up being a nice eclectic mix and hopefully illustrates the variety out there.

Grandma I'll Miss You is written by Kathyrn Slattery and illustrated by Renee Graef.  The book was published by Chariot Books in 1993 and is listed for ages 4-8.

The main character in this book is Katy, who is dealing with some very mixed emotions. She is aware her grandmother is dying and she is also anticipating the birth of a new sibling.  This book uniquely brings in the idea of birth being similar death.


The beginning of the book is very story like, spending most time on Grandma's life. I suppose you could say this is the life review portion, as Grandma shares memories from her life.  As in the last two books reviewed, one of the big questions Katy has is "What will happen to Grandma when she dies? and Is there really such a place as heaven?" Unlike the other books these are just thoughts Katy has and aren't directly addressed.

What is refreshing is that Katy actually asks her grandma, "are you afraid about dying?" This leads to a creative illustration linking death and birth together. The grandma admits her slight fear, but then tries to put herself into the unborn babies shoes, as the baby too has no concept of what it will soon experience.

The next pages are very Christian based in concepts about heaven, and about getting a new body there. Katy and her Grandma wrap up the conversation and then the very next morning the Grandma dies. I did appreciate the statement on the book's last page, "Death, in its way, was as natural a part of life as birth", something we in palliative care definitely understand.

The illustrations in this book are simple and realistic. There isn't any thing that stands out in color scheme or medium used.

In terms of recommendation, this book probably has the most narrow audience of the one's we've reviewed. If it is line with a family's personal beliefs, then it would be a good conversation book, though it seems geared to older than the quoted 4-8 yr. old.  I did enjoy the normalization of death as similar to birth, and think there could be some other concepts related to that link to help grieving kids.

To sum up these last 5 book reviews, it seems that a common theme for children's books are the "What happens after?" questions.  3 books had different answers, and if that is the question your child is asking, it would be important to find a book with the answer you want to share!  The other type of book seems to be about grief itself - normalizing feelings and emotions one goes through in the process.

I hope to keep reading and familiarizing myself with what's out there so that when families ask me what to do, I'll be able to delve into the issue of concern, and make some more informed recommendations!

3 Responses to “Children's Books on Grief: Gandma I'll Miss You”

Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC said...
March 8, 2011 at 5:38 AM

Amy, thank you for this series. I've been collecting children's books about death for several years ~ I like how the authors take such a complicated subject and break it down so that even I can understand it! I agree with you that parents must take care to be sure that whatever book they select fits with their own spiritual beliefs. For those who are interested, I've listed all the children's books I've read and would personally recommend here: "Books for Children and Those Who Love Them," http://astore.amazon.com/griefhealing?_encoding=UTF8&node=11 (Just click on the book's title to read Amazon's description and reviews.)


musicalgems said...
March 9, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Thank you for sharing this list of books. When my mother died a few years ago, one of my daughter's former teachers gave us a copy of "Tear Soup" by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen. At the end of the book are "cooking tips" for those dealing with grief. When I was a child, the Hallmark movie based upon Margaret Craven's "I Heard the Owl Call My Name" was shown on TV the night before my great aunt died. (Having Native American siblings, there was an extra tie with this story.) My father shared of her passing by saying "Last night, Aunt Mildred heard the owl call her name." Stories can be wonderful connections to life.


musicalgems said...
March 16, 2011 at 11:53 PM

Thank you for sharing this list of books. When my mother died a few years ago, one of my daughter's former teachers gave us a copy of "Tear Soup" by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen. At the end of the book are "cooking tips" for those dealing with grief. When I was a child, the Hallmark movie based upon Margaret Craven's "I Heard the Owl Call My Name" was shown on TV the night before my great aunt died. (Having Native American siblings, there was an extra tie with this story.) My father shared of her passing by saying "Last night, Aunt Mildred heard the owl call her name." Stories can be wonderful connections to life.