Can your readers suggest a book for children aged about seven, on dying and bereavement?
One of the most well-used books in the primary curriculum covers this issue very simply and beautifully.
In Susan Varley’s Badger’s Parting Gifts (HarperCollins), Badger knows he is close to death. He is concerned for his friends’ feelings after his death; so he leaves them gifts. The gifts are not physical presents to unwrap, but skills and talents, and memories.
In the spring after his death, the animals realise they have a special memory of him: “something he had taught them that they could now do extremely well. . . Using these gifts they would be able to help each other.”
Bridget West, Croydon
The book I recommend the most is Waterbugs and Dragonflies (The Pilgrim Press), by Doris Stickney, a retelling of an old story, which is well within the capabilities of a seven-year-old. It includes helpful advice for parents, a few prayers, and Bible readings.
Hazel Shaw, London NW7
If one is looking for a general book, there are some excellent picture books: Waterbugs and Dragonflies . . ., and I’ll Always Love You, about the death of a dog, by Hans Wilhelm (Dragonfly Books), or Badger’s Parting Gifts. . . The website www.creative-church.com has an extensive list in the funeral section.
Tessa Wilkinson (co-author of Creative Funerals and www.creative-church.com )
. . . Will My Rabbit Go to Heaven? (Lion UK, 1988), and a booklet, Waterbugs and Dragonflies. . . It’s like the metaphor of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, but better, because the medium in which they live changes, and so explains that we can’t see the future life.
(The Revd) Brenda Morton, Evesham
I recommend Badger’s Parting Gifts. . . . The Lonely Tree by Nicholas Halliday (Halliday Books) explains that the old need to die to make space for the new generation.
Both are beautifully illustrated and sensitively told stories, suitable for those of any faith or none. Neither deals with questions about God or Jesus, or the afterlife, but the stories could lead to questions by children and answers by faith-affirming parents or other adults.
Margaret A. Turner, Chesham
I Love You Daddy by Rebecca Dixon-Whatmough (Millgate House Publishing, www.millgatehouse.co.uk ), about the death of a parent, was featured (Books, 3 July 2015). Proceeds from its sale will go to Macmillan Cancer Support. Editor
When did the clerical styles “Reverend” and “Right Reverend” come into general use? Were they ever formally authorised? A. H.
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