8 Books for When a Child Loses a Pet

Ill Always Love You

Although it’s a very common experience, losing a beloved pet can be difficult for children (and parents!). Conversations around death will inevitably arise, and little ones may begin to ask a lot of tough questions. Books can be a great resource for helping children work through their emotions in the wake of their loss (and for giving parents an age-appropriate way to approach a series of delicate—and important—conversations). Here are eight great picks to read with your child as together you mourn the loss and celebrate the life of a furry family member.

The Goodbye Book, by Todd Parr
This colorful and simple story is told through the point of view of a fish that has lost his companion. While the story does not reference the death of the companion, it does drive home the point that it is not always easy to say goodbye. Parr helps address the feelings and emotions around death and loss, and portrays several stages of grief in easy and simple to understand terms for little ones. (Ages 3-6)

The Rainbow Bridge…A Dog’s Story, by Judith Kristen
The concept of a rainbow bridge is prevalent in stories that discuss the death of pets and animals. This particular book is about Henley, a sheepdog who lived a full and vivid life. Even in death, his story continues as he comforts pet owners from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. He explains that sadness is normal, grief is okay, and that the pet you loved is running with friends on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. This book provides the perfect amount of light in a dark time—in the form of a bright and vivid rainbow. (Ages 4 & up)

Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant
With endless fields, tons of biscuits, and a paradise for dogs to run in, this book shows via bright paintings the type of heaven God has created for dogs. A Newbery winner and bestseller, this classic book is great for gifting to a friend or family member when they have lost their furry, four-legged friend. Readers will enjoy being immersed in the warm, inviting images Rylant has created within this book. (Ages 3-5)

Cat Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant
Let’s not forget cats can go to heaven, too! Butterflies, crickets, endless climbing trees, and angel’s laps to sleep on are just some of the amazing things Rylant imagines God has created for our feline friends. The cheerful paintings will invite your child into a world where they can imagine their cat is cuddled up with or carousing among all their favorite things. (Ages 3-5)

I’ll Always Love You, by Hans Wilhelm
Elfie the daschund has grown up with her family, and her special young master, since she was a rambunctious little puppy, and is now in her quieter, golden years. One night, she passes away in her sleep and the family is full of grief. After burying their beloved pet, the young boy is not ready for a new dog. But when the time comes, he knows he will tell that new pet, “I’ll always love you.” This is a great book for families that have lost an older dog. (Ages 3-7)

Badger’s Parting Gifts, by Susan Varley
Even though Badger is a woodland creature, this story will resonate with anyone who has lost a favorite pet. Badger’s friends are sad that their friend has died, but by sharing the memories and gifts their furry friend has left them, they are able to work through the sadness and find the joy. A great book to use to discuss death of an animal, whether a family pet or a favorite creature at the zoo, in a thoughtful way. (Ages 4-8)

Paw Prints in the Stars: A Farewell and Journal for a Beloved Pet, by Warren Hanson
A more interactive book, this is both a story and a journal that can become a keepsake for a cherished pet that has passed away. Told from the perspective of the pet, the book helps owners work through the emotions of losing a beloved animal companion. A child can help add pictures of their pet, as well as their collar tags, so that they will have a special book to revisit in the coming years when they want to remember their furry family member. (Ages 5 & up)

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst and Erik Blegvad
Finally, from the awesome author of the Alexander books, a story about a boy coping with the death of the family cat. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney handles this sad situation with honesty and sensitivity. Be warned, it will definitely make you cry—but sometimes that’s a good thing, right? (Ages 6-9)

What books do you recommend for kids who have lost a pet?

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