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Ch 2: Teaching Death & Loss in Children's Books

About This Chapter

Follow along with the lessons of this chapter to help you figure out how to teach your students about children's books that focus on themes of death and loss, and improve your skills creating lesson plans that help students pick up on these themes.

Teaching Death & Loss in Children's Books - Chapter Summary

Death and loss, while being uncomfortable themes, are also themes commonly expressed through literature. These lessons were made to provide teachers with a list of children's books that cover these themes and examples of lesson plans they can reference as they plan lessons about them. The books featured in this chapter include:

  • A Taste of Blackberries
  • Bridge to Terabithia
  • The Giver
  • Old Yeller
  • Freak the Mighty

How It Helps

  • Expands libraries: Use these lessons to learn of new books you can add to your classroom library and expand the selection of books your students have to choose from.
  • Helps develop lesson plans: These lessons will provide you with example of lesson plans that you may use to create lessons that focus on themes of loss and death.
  • Provides example assessment questions: In these lessons you will discover questions that were made to assess a students comprehension of the related books.

Skills Covered

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Create lesson plans for books with themes of loss and death
  • Find children's books that feature these themes
  • Assess students' comprehension of these books

45 Lessons in Chapter 2: Teaching Death & Loss in Children's Books
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Missing May Lesson Plan

1. Missing May Lesson Plan

'Missing May' is a Newbery Medal-winning book written by Cynthia Rylant. In this lesson plan, students explore how characters in the book change as a result of the events that occur in the story.

Missing May: Summary & Characters

2. Missing May: Summary & Characters

Summer and her uncle are still grieving her aunt's death 6 months ago, and there seems to be no end to their struggle in sight. Learn more about these characters and their journey in this lesson over Cynthia Rylant's 'Missing May.'

Because of Mr. Terupt Discussion Questions

3. Because of Mr. Terupt Discussion Questions

''Because of Mr. Terupt'' is a children's novel, intended for roughly 4th-5th grade students. These questions can help guide your class through a discussion on the novel's characters, plot, and themes.

A Taste of Blackberries Comprehension Questions

4. A Taste of Blackberries Comprehension Questions

'A Taste of Blackberries' by Doris Smith explores friendship, death and grief. This lesson prompts students to respond to specific questions about the book and challenges their literary analysis skills.

Bridge to Terabithia Lesson Plan

5. Bridge to Terabithia Lesson Plan

Use this lesson plan to reintroduce students to the plot and themes of the book 'Bridge to Terabithia' by Katherine Paterson. Find a text lesson to guide your review of the book, collaborate with students to develop a summary of plot points, and encourage students to explore the depth of the themes found in 'Bridge to Terabithia.'

Bridge to Terabithia: Summary & Themes

6. Bridge to Terabithia: Summary & Themes

In this lesson, you will read the summary for the book 'Bridge to Terabithia' by Katherine Paterson. You will also learn about three of the major themes in the book.

Bridge to Terabithia Comprehension Questions

7. Bridge to Terabithia Comprehension Questions

This lesson gives you comprehension questions, for the novel Bridge to Terabithia, that assess important elements such as main plot points, characters, and setting. Questions are geared for differing reading levels and ready to use.

Bridge to Terabithia Discussion Questions

8. Bridge to Terabithia Discussion Questions

Teachers, challenge students and confirm their understanding of this book by assigning the following discussion questions. This lesson can be used in a traditional classroom or online environment.

Bridge to Terabithia Unit Plan

9. Bridge to Terabithia Unit Plan

'Bridge to Terabithia' is a Newberry Award winning children's novel by Katherine Paterson about two friends who create their own magical world. This unit plan provides guidance for teachers planning a novel study about this book.

Old Yeller Comprehension Questions

10. Old Yeller Comprehension Questions

Teachers, utilize this lesson to ensure your students read the book. Assign them It's All About You questions to increase their critical thinking and literary analysis skills. This lesson can be used in a traditional classroom or an online environment.

Old Yeller Activities

11. Old Yeller Activities

Reading a novel can be an engaging unit for a language arts class or a monotonous one. To keep it interesting, read this lesson to discover fun activities for the novel ''Old Yeller''.

Freak The Mighty Lesson Plan

12. Freak The Mighty Lesson Plan

This lesson plan may be used by teachers to bring deeper understanding of the text to students who have read 'Freak the Mighty' by Rodman Philbrick. Students will explore themes and characters from the novel.

Freak the Mighty Project Ideas

13. Freak the Mighty Project Ideas

'Freak the Mighty' by Rodman Philbrick is the story of a friendship between a physically strong learning disabled boy and an intellectually advanced physically disabled boy. These projects bring meaning to the book through multimodal activities.

Freak the Mighty Comprehension Questions

14. Freak the Mighty Comprehension Questions

''Freak the Mighty'' by Rodman Philbrick is an adventurous and fun book, but it certainly pulls on your heartstrings. Use this lesson to ensure a high level of comprehension for the book. Make sure your students are mature enough to handle death, because it is one of the major themes.

Freak the Mighty Discussion Questions

15. Freak the Mighty Discussion Questions

Teachers, ''Freak the Mighty'' is full of adventure and sadness. Utilize the following lesson to challenge your students' comprehension. Assign It's All About What You Think questions to advance their critical analysis skills.

Freak the Mighty Activities

16. Freak the Mighty Activities

Assign these activities to ensure students understood their reading of Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick. Not only will they gain a deeper understanding of the book, but they can be used along with the book to understand the themes.

Freak the Mighty Unit Plan

17. Freak the Mighty Unit Plan

'Freak the Mighty' is the tale of two boys who journey from isolation to friendship. This unit plan will help you guide middle school students through literary analysis, vocabulary development, reading response, and project-based assessment.

The Giver Lesson Plan

18. The Giver Lesson Plan

Refresh students' memories of the main plots points and characters in 'The Giver' and reinforce their learning with a detailed summary assignment. Find, too, related lessons for expanded learning related to the novel.

The Giver: Summary, Characters, Themes & Author

19. The Giver: Summary, Characters, Themes & Author

In 'The Giver,' the government controls citizens' freedom to choose their occupation, spouse, and emotions. Read on to see why and how the government exerts this control, and what one boy plans to do to stop it.

Is the Giver Utopian or Dystopian? - Lesson Plan

20. Is the Giver Utopian or Dystopian? - Lesson Plan

With this lesson plan, your students will learn to identify utopian and dystopian themes in ''The Giver''. They will then debate whether or not the society within this book is utopian or dystopian.

The Giver Pre-Reading Activities

21. The Giver Pre-Reading Activities

Preparation for reading The Giver can help enrich the experience and make it more enlightening and educational. Try a few of these pre-reading activities to help your students prepare.

The Giver Project Ideas

22. The Giver Project Ideas

'The Giver' is a novel written by Lois Lowry that puts a unique spin on the idea of a utopian society. Use the projects below to extend learning and encourage students to personally connect with the content of the story.

The Giver Unit Plan

23. The Giver Unit Plan

'The Giver' by Lois Lowry is a dystopian novel about a society that limits the memories, feelings, and choices of its citizens to avoid the negative aspects of society. This asset provides an outline for teachers who are teaching a unit about this novel.

Gathering Blue Lesson Plan

24. Gathering Blue Lesson Plan

Use this lesson plan to increase comprehension of the book 'Gathering Blue.' Students will read a text lesson summarizing plot and setting, discuss and analyze content, then apply to a culminating activity.

Gathering Blue: Summary & Setting

25. Gathering Blue: Summary & Setting

The lesson will summarize ''Gathering Blue'' by Lois Lowry and give details about the setting of the novel in a dystopian future where the main character is in danger because of her talent and secrets from her past.

Gathering Blue Discussion Questions

26. Gathering Blue Discussion Questions

''Gathering Blue'' exemplifies a little girl's tenacity to stay relevant in a difficult, almost impossible situation. Students will confirm their understanding of the characters, scenes and events by responding to the discussion questions.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry Activities

27. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry Activities

Use the following activities after students have read ''Gathering Blue'' by Lois Lowry. Students will find these activities engaging while expanding their understanding of the story line, scenes and characters.

On My Honor Lesson Plan

28. On My Honor Lesson Plan

Use this lesson plan to help boost student comprehension of the novel 'On My Honor' by Marion Dane Bauer. Students will read a text lesson summarizing the book, work on discussion questions, and complete a culminating activity and quiz.

On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer: Book Summary

29. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer: Book Summary

Are you looking for a book that will make you think? The novel 'On My Honor' tells of a boy who learns an important and sobering lesson. Read on for a summary of this Newbery Honor-winning book.

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie Lesson Plan

30. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie Lesson Plan

'Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie' by Jordan Sonnenblick explores a child's cancer diagnosis, stages of grief and the impact on his family. After students have read the story assign both lessons, the activity and quizzes.

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie: Summary and Themes

31. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie: Summary and Themes

When his younger brother is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven's whole world changes. In this lesson, we learn about those changes by summarizing Jordan Sonnenblick's ''Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie,' and discussing themes in the book.

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie: Characters and Quotes

32. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie: Characters and Quotes

Everybody has their own way of dealing with hard situations. In this lesson, we will learn about some of the main characters in Jordan Sonnenblick's ''Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie'' by taking a look at how they handle a cancer diagnosis.

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie: Genre and Setting

33. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie: Genre and Setting

In the book 'Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie,' the main character learns to work on the things he can change, rather than agonizing about what he can't. In this lesson, we will explore the book's genre and setting.

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie Discussion Questions

34. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie Discussion Questions

In this lesson, you'll be presented with over 20 questions to help your students better understand and appreciate the book ''Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie.''

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie Activities

35. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie Activities

This lesson will give you five different activities your class can engage in individually, in groups, or even as an entire class to delve more deeply into the themes and topics addressed in the book 'Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie'.

Thirteen Reasons Why Project Ideas

36. Thirteen Reasons Why Project Ideas

'Thirteen Reasons Why' is a novel by Jay Asher that examines the relationship between bullying and suicide. These projects reflect on a collaborative analysis of these themes.

13 Reasons Why Discussion Questions

37. 13 Reasons Why Discussion Questions

'13 Reasons Why' is a novel that takes a deep look at bullying and teen suicide. These discussion questions will have your students utilizing their critical thinking skills as they work through the issues and characters of the story.

Whirligig Discussion Questions

38. Whirligig Discussion Questions

'Whirligig' by Paul Fleischman is a young-adult novel about a teenager who is paying restitution for killing another teenager in a car crash. This asset provides topics for classroom discussions about this novel.

Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher Discussion Questions

39. Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher Discussion Questions

'Flying Solo' is a short novel and well worth reading with your class. Use these discussion questions to address the story, characters, literary elements, and students' personal responses.

Counting by 7s Discussion Questions

40. Counting by 7s Discussion Questions

''Counting by 7s'' is a children's novel about loss, grief, family, and perseverance. These questions can help guide your students through a discussion on this novel's plot, structure, and themes.

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond Discussion Questions

41. The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond Discussion Questions

''The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond'' is a children's novel about a girl who grows up biracial but finally learns to connect with her African-American heritage. It's a compelling story that can help students start talking about race, identity, and literature.

Old Yeller Discussion Questions

42. Old Yeller Discussion Questions

Students will be guided through engaging questions to encourage them to think deeply about the themes in Fred Gipson's, Old Yeller. These discussion questions are geared toward students in upper elementary and above.

The Killing Sea Discussion Questions

43. The Killing Sea Discussion Questions

''The Killing Sea'' is a work of fiction, but set around the real events of the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and written by a witness of those events. There's a lot that your class may want to talk about, and these questions can help guide discussion.

Orbiting Jupiter Discussion Questions

44. Orbiting Jupiter Discussion Questions

In this gripping teenage drama, main characters Joseph and Jack form a strong bond that goes beyond first impressions. Use these 'Orbiting Jupiter' discussion questions to help your high school have meaningful conversations about the book's thematic elements.

Gathering Blue Unit Plan

45. Gathering Blue Unit Plan

This lesson plan is designed for use with middle-school students and can help them explore the plot, themes, genre, and significance of Lois Lowry's ''Gathering Blue''.

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Other Chapters

Other chapters within the Teaching Resources for Middle Grade & Young Adult Books course

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