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Children's books about death and grief—and other major events in their lives

By Melody Tan 2 min read

Whether it's the death of a loved one, introducing a new sibling, moving to a new house or starting school, a picture book can often help ease your preschooler through the transition.

Illness, death and grief

Tree: A gentle story of love and loss

Book cover of Tree

Lynn Jenkins & Kirrili Lonergan

EK Books

A$19.99 | NZ$19.99

A metaphorical book using the death of a tree to help children deal with the concepts of impending death and ways to memorialise and celebrate the life of a loved one. Simple, touching and insightful.

The Funeral

Matt James

Affirm Press

A$24.99 | NZ$29.99

Probably something more suitable for introducing the concepts of funerals of someone not particularly dear to a child. Provides a perspective of how someone's death can be a sad, yet happy affair.

Together Things

Together Things book cover

Michelle Vasiliu & Gwynneth Jones

EK Books

A$24.99 | NZ$24.99

It's never easy when someone you love falls sick, especially if that person is your dad. This is a very gentle way to help a child understand illness (mental or physical) and the different ways in which they can still bond with their loved ones.

Moving house

Goodbye House, Hello House

Goodbye house, hello house book cover

Margaret Wild & Ann James

Allen & Unwin

A$24.99 | NZ$27.99

Moving to a new place can often be filled with much sorrow and trepidation. Prep your preschooler for the big day with this simple picture book that acknowledges the sadness of having to say goodbye, but also fills them with the promise of fun and exciting adventures to come. 

Introducing a new sibling

I'm Ready for the New Baby

Jedda Robaard

Puffin Books

A$12.99 | NZ$15.99

Help build the anticipation of a new sibling with this gorgeously illustrated hardcover book, and all the nice, caring things an older sister can do. The story is told from the perspective of a little girl waiting for the arrival of a baby brother.

Starting first day of school

I'm Ready for Preschool

I'm ready for preschool book cover

Jedda Robaard

Puffin Books

A$12.99 | NZ$15.99

Bright and fun, this is all about the fun a child can have when they start preschool. It talks about the hesitation and worry a child may have, but focuses on all the positive things they can experience at preschool.

Maddie's First Day

Maddie's first day book cover

Penny Matthews & Liz Anelli

Walker Books

A$26.99 | NZ$28.99

Read this book not only because your little one is about to experience their first day of big school, but also for how amazingly inclusive the illustrations are: Multicultural, a mum who works and a dad who stays home to look after the baby, children in wheelchairs . . . this is a world every child is a part of.

Little Nic's Big Day

Little Nic's Big Day book cover

Nic Naitanui & Fatima Anayanny

Albert Street Books

A$19.99 | NZ$22.99

Another book that needs to be applauded for its inclusivity. The illustrations are bright, colourful and eye-catching, as is the text, which is written in rhyme. This book is all about the new things, friends and experiences one will find when they finally start big school.

Melody Tan is project manager of the Mums At The Table multimedia initiative. She lives in Sydney with her husband and her son.