This list covers books and resources for children and adults when someone is seriously ill or not expected to live. For further help in finding resources, email [email protected] or call our Helpline on 0800 02 888 40.

Please note: inclusion on this list does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement by Child Bereavement UK, as we are aware that whether a book is helpful or not is subjective and as such is a decision that can only be made by the individual reader.


My Brother and Me

Author: Sarah Courtauld, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb  Available from Child Bereavement UK. To order please email [email protected] or call 01494 568 917.

This picture books story deals with the issues around a sibling's serious illness, and stays in hospital, and how his brother copes with different emotions and feelings. Aimed at children aged 4-10 years.




When your Mum or Dad has cancer

Author: Ann Couldrick, illustrated by Graham Jeffrey.  Available from Child Bereavement UK. To order email [email protected] or call 01494 568 917.

A short book for younger children (7+) to teenage children. It has an introduction for parents but then explains cancer in a simple way children can relate to. It also covers many questions children ask, such as will the person die and what exactly happens, but tackles the answers with insight and honesty.




As Big as it Gets

Author: Julie Stokes and Diana Crossley   Buy from Winston's Wish

This booklet aims to help families cope with the serious illness of a parent or child. It provides a range of ideas for parents and carers so that they may feel more able to explain to their children what is happening. The booklet also includes some suggestions about what parents might say to children and how to offer support.


When Someone Has a Very Serious Illness  

Author: Marge Heegaard   Buy from Amazon

This book aims to help families communicate and evaluate a child’s understanding and feelings about family change while teaching basic concepts of illness and healthy coping skills.


The Secret C

Author: Julie Stokes   Buy from Amazon

Cancer in the family is hard for everyone. How can adults explain when they themselves are trying to come to terms with the implications of the diagnosis? This book offers simple, honest explanations of what cancer is and how it affects someone. It also gives short explanations of treatments such as radiotherapy. It will help adults to answer difficult questions children need to ask.


Fox & Goldfish

Author: Nils Pieters   Buy from Amazon

Fox knows that Goldfish is very unwell and is going to die.  Before it’s too late he takes his friend on an epic adventure beyond the fishbowl. This story shows the importance of spending precious time with someone who is ill, and doing things together whilst the ill person is still able to. This is important in building memories for a child, and for the person who is ill, of spending precious moments together. It would be particularly relevant and useful in preparing a child for the death of a special person in their lives.


What About Me? When Brothers and Sisters Get Sick

Author: Allan Peterkin   Buy from Amazon

When a child is seriously ill, siblings experience mixed emotions and hurt feelings, and wonder about the future. In this heartwarming story, the narrator, a confused young girl, expresses all of these concerns when her brother goes to the hospital for an extended stay.


Jack's Radio Mission

By Sarah Boland and Katie Wall   Buy from Amazon

A story to help reassure children going through radiotherapy. Jack is sitting in the waiting room feeling a bit rubbish and he thinks cancer is rubbish. He decides to turn his radiotherapy into a space mission and fly his space machine through the stars. On completing his mission, Jacks decides his treatment might not be so bad after all.


Beyond the Rainbow: A Workbook for Children in the Advanced Stages of a Very Serious Illness

Author: Marge Heegard   Buy from Amazon

This book provides children and their caregivers a broad range of opportunities to express thoughts and feelings related to advanced stages of a life-threatening illness. The book has a warm interactive quality to it. Through the creative activities it offers, children can learn to communicate more openly about their illness, develop coping skills, express personal wishes, foster hope, and share thoughts and concerns about death.


Standing on His Own Two Feet: A Diary of Dying

Author: Sue Grant   Buy from Amazon

Alexander had just begun his studies at university when he was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. In this honest account, Alex’s mother traces the impact of the diagnosis on the whole family and outlines the issues that arose during diagnosis, treatment and terminal stages of her son’s illness. Includes an insight into how health care systems serve the terminally ill, the choices faced by families, and ways of providing the best possible care at home and maintaining the patient’s dignity until the end.


Attending to the Fact: Staying with Dying

Author: Hilary Elfick and David Head   Buy from Amazon

Poetry collection exploring what it is like to care for the dying and the dead. Drawing on the authors’ own work in hospices, these poems take the reader on a journey that explores the experience of either supporting, or being, someone going through the physical changes and complex emotions that accompany ill-health and death.