Books about Bereavement: How to help children understand bereavement


It is one of life’s sad certainties that children will experience grief at some point, we’ve collected together some great literature that can help children understand bereavement.

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Finding a way into reading: Alan’s Story

In the run-up to the publication of The Reader’s Annual Report 2014/15, here’s another highlight from our shared reading activity in the past year. 

Our shared reading projects with children and young people focus entirely on reading for pleasure. Even in school settings, stories are shared in an informal, interactive and engaging way to encourage an enthusiasm for reading. Alan is one of our young readers at a primary school in Liverpool, where we have been working in partnership with City of Readers.

Alan, along with twenty other year 3 and 4 pupils, attended the first shared reading session which we ran at a local primary school as part of the Reading Revolutionaries Roadshow. As the group were new to the training course and shared reading model we explained that if students felt too shy or anxious to ask any questions out loud, they could write their questions on a post it note, in which we would address and respond to after the morning break.

We read Oh No George! by Chris Haughton and a lively discussion ensued with lots of the pupils relaying stories about their naughty pets. The group were totally engrossed and all participated in shouting out ‘OH NO GEORGE!’

One group member stated:

“It’s hard when you’re told not to do something though, because it makes you want to do it even more. Like George…I bet he wasn’t even thinking about eating the cake or the playing in the mud, but as soon as he’s told to ‘be good!’ they’re his first thoughts. I’m like that too…like George…as soon as I’m told I ‘can’t’ that’s when I ‘want’.”

After we finished reading, Alan, who had been mostly quiet for the duration, approached me and stated that he had made a mistake with his question on his Post It note and needed to ‘fix it’. We went through the notes until we found his Post It which read ‘I don’t read anything’. He took his note and came up to me around ten minutes later with a new submission which read ‘Did George go in the bin or not? Would George be good next time or not?’

In one twenty minute shared reading session Alan had transformed from a self defined ‘non reader’ to an inquisitive and interested literary thinker.

A's story City of Readers
Alan’s amended Post It note after reading Oh No George!

Our Top 5 tips for reading with young people and teenagers

Emma and Colette joining Roger Phillips for a studio selfie at BBC Radio Merseyside!
Emma and Colette joining Roger Phillips for a studio selfie at BBC Radio Merseyside!

This afternoon to celebrate Volunteers Week, Emma Melling and Colette Greggs took to the airwaves with BBC Radio Merseyside’s Roger Phillips to spread the word about Off The Page, our biggest volunteer recruitment initiative to date.

We’re looking for volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged children (aged from 11 to 16 years old) across Liverpool through one-to-one shared reading experiences. Not only will the project directly engage the children themselves with a love of reading for pleasure, but will also extend to the adults in their lives – be they parents, carers, family support workers, community staff and volunteers.

Think you might be up for this rewarding challenge? Emma and Colette tell us their top 5 tips for reading with this age group:

  1. Be passionate: make the story come alive! This can only happen if you care about what you’re reading. What books, poems or stories do you wish you could help a young person discover for the first time?
  2. Be patient: volunteers need to commit to reading an hour a week with a young person, for six months minimum. It may take weeks for a young person to overcome an initial resistance to reading. Enjoy the journey you take together – both of you may learn a lot from each other.
  1. Be flexible: something going down less well than you’d hoped? Don’t take it to heart. It may be that your young person isn’t ready to take on your suggested reads, or maybe they’re just not interested in that kind of thing. Be prepared to have options at the ready and don’t be afraid to change course if necessary – it’s all progress!
  1. Be bold: don’t be afraid to introduce new, sometimes darker material, particularly with older teenagers who may show greater engagement if they encounter literature that resonates with young adult issues and preoccupations. Always be sensitive to individual needs however!
  2. Be a role model: set an example, and not just when it comes to reading. You’re in a privileged position at a formative stage in a young person’s life. Afterwards, they should be remembering you as a positive influence – maybe you’ve even made a difference to the course of their future.

For more details of how to volunteer, please contact Celia Jordan, our Off The Page Project Manager, on or 07812 238 395 – or come along to our Summer Fair on Saturday 6th June at Calderstones Mansion House.

Frank Cottrell Boyce at Leasowe Library

frank-cottrell-boyce-unforgotten-coatFrank Cottrell Boyce at Leasowe Library
Saturday 9th November, 2.30-4pm
Leasowe Library, Twickenham Drive, Wirral, CH46 1PQ

Award winning author, screenwriter and patron of The Reader Organisation Frank Cottrell Boyce will be returning to Merseyside for a special FREE event at Leasowe Library this coming Saturday, 9th November. Fresh from his latest success winning the German Children’s Literature Award for The Unforgotten Coat the book he wrote especially for TRO – Frank will be reading from some of his books, answering questions and signing copies at the library on Saturday afternoon.

The event has been organised by Leasowe Reading and Wellbeing Library, a collaboration between Wirral Council and The Reader Organisation promoting public engagement, improving users’ health and wellbeing, and reducing social isolation. The library has recently heralded the arrival of a range of new books for children and young people, purchased through a £1,500 grant from the Siobhan Dowd Trust.

As well as getting the opportunity to hear Frank read some of his imagination-captivating stories in person, there will also be a free raffle for all children at the event with some wonderful prizes on offer.

Cllr Chris Meaden, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Wirral Borough Council said:

“I can’t stress enough how pleased I am to be able to welcome Frank to appear at Leasowe Library. As well as being one of the country’s most successful and recognised writers, his opening ceremony for the London Olympics was an iconic production that will live long in people’s memory.”

Don’t miss out on this brilliant afternoon with one of the country’s most successful writers celebrating the books and activities going on at Leasowe Library for children and young people each week.

The event is free but advance booking is essential. For more information about the afternoon or to book your place, please contact Victoria Clarke, Reading and Wellbeing Library Development Officer, on or call 07857 355 732 or 07807 106 857.

For more information about libraries across Wirral, visit the Wirral Libraries website. To find out more about our shared reading projects in Wirral, see the Where We Work section of our website.

Getting Everton reading

From Laura Lewis, Family Project Worker, Everton

With our head office based in Everton in Liverpool, here at The Reader Organisation we love to offer as many opportunities for local people, whatever age, to enjoy our shared reading groups. There are a whole range of exciting story and song groups around Everton for you and your little one to try. All of our groups are free, so why not come along and join in? Sharing stories and rhymes with your child is one of the best ways to help them develop speech, imagination and creativity. It is also a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your baby or toddler in a fun, friendly environment.

One of the recent reads enjoyed as part of Magical Story Time in Everton
One of the recent reads enjoyed as part of Magical Story Time in Everton

We currently run two groups for under fives and their parents and carers; older siblings are welcome too in the school holidays. There is

  • Magical Story Time at Everton Children’s Centre on a Tuesday morning, 10-11am,
  • and on a Friday morning you can celebrate the end of the week with Time for a Rhyme at Whitefield Primary School, 9-10am.

The Time for a Rhyme group is term time only, but you don’t have to have a child registered at the school to attend.

For the older children, we run a Family Story Time group at Breck Road Library, 3.30-4.30pm on Fridays. Children of any age can come along with parents or carers and enjoy games, colouring and a story; refreshments are also provided.

But before all of you grown ups feel left out, don’t worry! There are several free reading groups for you to come along to as well. Noveltea is at BNENC (Breckfield Road North) on a Tuesday, 12-1pm and Book Brunch runs at Breck Road Library at 10.30am-12pm every Friday.

Time for a Cuppa is our crafty reading group, every Thursday morning at Whitefield Primary, 9-10.30am. You don’t need to know anyone at the school, just come and join us for crochet (absolute beginners very welcome!), a story and a poem. All of our adult reading groups involve tea, biscuits and friendly faces. You don’t have to read aloud, but you can if you want. We read the book together in a relaxed environment and talk about the story; you don’t have to read anything in advance.

Please don’t miss out on these exciting groups in your local area; they’re free, fun and offer you the chance to meet other adults and parents. Also, remember to keep an eye on The Reader Organisation’s Twitter account (@thereaderorg) for details of special events in the area. I hope to see you all soon!

For more information call Laura Lewis on 07812 238 377 or email

Our Everton story time sessions for children under 5, their parents and carers run in association with LCVS and Thrive at Five. For all the information of our groups for children and young people, as well as our open groups in and around Everton, see the Reading With Us page on our website.

Reading is a Picnic at Calderstones

G31A7051The Mansion House at Calderstones has become a hive of activity once more, with summer seeing it the place to be. Not only did we reopen the Garden Theatre after 30 years in spectacular style with two showstopping performances of King Lear by Shakespeare’s Globe earlier this week, but there’s also an exciting programme of events still to come including a grand Summer Fair at the end of this month with tons of fun to be had for the whole community.

The TRO presence would not be complete without a good dose of shared reading; we’re currently running several groups at the Mansion House each week, including weekly groups for children and young people. Every Saturday morning our Caldies Creatives take over, offering fun, games and crafts for 7-13 year olds and on Thursday afternoons it’s time to gather teddies and books for the Teddy Bears Picnic. With a few weeks of the summer holidays left – and hopefully lots more sunshine to come – both groups are perfect to keep the kids entertained, with plenty of space  in the park to run around and play after lots of reading.

Our Everton Family Project Worker Laura Lewis tells us more about what you’ll find if you go down to the woods – or rather, the Mansion House – and also about some of the other reading activities we have for children in Liverpool over the summer:

Attending a Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Calderstones Park in the glorious sunshine is one of the many difficult tasks I have been asked to endure since starting at The Reader Organisation. OK, I admit it. I have an amazing job! Other activities I have attended or organised include a family fun day at Zap Play Centre in Everton, a pirate themed story time and craft session at Central Library, a picnic in Everton Nature Gardens with stories and songs and a Bookstart story time at St George’s Hall. I am also planning a Splash and Rhyme session at Everton Children’s Centre and looking forward to running story time sessions at the upcoming Out of the Blue Festival. I have even met such celebrities as Peppa Pig and the Bookstart bear herself, it’s all very glamorous.

The teddies at Calderstones love to read
The teddies at Calderstones love to read

Being a Family Project Worker in Everton, I love any excuse for a story time, especially one that involves songs and teddies! So of course I was thrilled when Ro invited me to attend her first Teddy Bears’ Picnic group at Calderstones. At The Reader Organisation we are always trying to think of fun and exciting ways to bring families together through a love of reading and imagination and we were thrilled when so many families joined us on our very first session and enjoyed themselves so much.

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Calderstones is run by the fantastic Ro, who is incredibly creative and shares my love of children’s books and songs. When the sun is shining the picnic takes place on the grass at the front of the Mansion House and if it is raining the group will be indoors, inside the Mansion House. Under fives are invited to bring along teddies, parents and carers for a fun-filled hour of stories and songs. Ro brings a selection of stories and the little ones can chose which to read, as well as which songs to sing (if we don’t have it on CD we’ll do our very best to sing it, no promises as to how in tune we will be though!).

As part of my role, I facilitate several under fives groups in Everton in association with Thrive at Five and every single one is so different; the little ones are so engaged in the stories and offer amazing insights and observations. One seven month old loves story time so much that every time he enters the storytelling area, he begins to bounce up and down, ready for a song! Story time is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with your baby or toddler, whilst gaining an excuse to listen to a kids’ story and sing a few songs: who doesn’t love The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the Hokey Cokey? Lots of parents have said to me that their children love story time so much that they insist on re-creating it at home!

We would love for you to come along and join in. Contact Ro to find out more about the latest activities in Calderstones on or if you would like to know any more about my story times sessions in Everton or be informed of any one-off events in Liverpool, please don’t hesitate to email me on . Also remember to keep an eye on TRO’s and Caldies Mansion Twitter accounts for all of our latest adventures!

Teddy Bear’s Picnic runs Thursdays, 1.30-2.30pm for children under 5, their parents and carers, and Caldies Creatives is on Saturdays, 10-11.30am for young people aged 7-13, both at Calderstones Mansion House.

Our Everton Magical Storytime sessions for children under 5, their parents and carers run in association with LCVS and Thrive at Five, with a new ‘Tales With Teddy’ group running each Wednesday afternoon, 1-2pm, at Mere Lane Health Centre. For all the information of our groups for children and young people, see the Reading With Us page on our website.