Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Four years ago my father died on his 60th birthday after a long battle with cancer. I have two children who, although were young, were very close to their grandfather and had many questions about his death. My oldest was 4. Unfortunately, she understood exactly what death meant since two other family members died shortly prior to my father’s passing. Her questions were in regards to Cancer; what it was and how people got it. My son, who had just turned 2 wanted to know where my father had gone. Every time we walked into his house to visit Grandma, he’d walk up stairs calling for his Papa. During this time, a very kind person gave me a children’s book to read to my kids. The story helped me answer many of their questions when I was incapable of doing so on my own. With the anniversary of my father’s death approaching, I wanted to help other families in similar situations. To all of those who have had to endure the loss of a loved one and have struggled to explain it to their children, may the following books provide support and comfort.


The Hope Tree
Written by Laura Numeroff and Wendy S. Harpham, M.D.
Illustrated by David McPhail. Ages 4-8.

An imaginary support group of animals whose Mom’s all have breast cancer have put together this “scrapbook” of their own personal stories. Drawn from real accounts about mothers with cancer, the authors have done a great job creating a picture book about this very difficult subject while crafting a story that is sure to be a comfort to many children in similar situations. The characters, all between the ages of 5-12 discuss many key topics and questions such as What is Cancer? and Can I catch it? The answers to these questions, along with other fundamental issues, are explained with simple, kid-friendly concepts.

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf
Written by Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D.
Photographs by a variety of photographers. Ages 4-8.

This wonderfully warm story explains life, death and the human experience through the eyes of Freddie the Leaf. Freddie has a wonderful life. From high on his branch of a tall tree, he watches children play in his shade; birds come to sit and sing morning songs and he is warmed by the sun. But seasons change and so does Freddie. With this change he has many questions. He wonders why each leaf on the same tree seems to be different, why the seasons have to change and finally why he exists at all if he is only going to fall and die. The answers to these questions are inspiring and wise. “It’s been about happy time’s together.” writes the author. “It’s been about the shade and the old people and the children. It’s been about colors in the Fall. It’s been about seasons. Isn’t that enough?” The Fall of Freddie the Leaf is a simple story that children can relate to and adults will find profoundly moving.

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