Death Themes in Literature for Children Ages 3-8

By Seibert, Dinah; Drolet, Judy C. | Journal of School Health, February 1993 | Go to article overview

Death Themes in Literature for Children Ages 3-8


Seibert, Dinah, Drolet, Judy C., Journal of School Health


"A book is a present you can open again and again!"

M. Engelbreit

Books represent gifts of learning for young children. Parents. teachers, and other caregivers of preschool children (ages three-eight) use hands-on experiential techniques whenever possible.|1~ These concrete methods match the young child's cognitive development.|2~ For some subjects. however, real experience is not always possible. In such cases, children's literature provides the next best opportunity for learning.|3,4~

Children's literature commonly is used in preschool to address concepts which are not possible to experience directly, or not desirable to experience directly.|5~ One area where direct experience is not always possible is death education. Thus, children's literature is recommended as an appropriate tool for addressing concepts of death education.|6,7~ Though real death experiences do exist for young children, they constitute different learning experiences than those taught through literature.

When a child experiences death directly, whether through death of a pet or a loved one, it is an emotional time and must be dealt with immediately. Adults should support, comfort, and help the child to express grief.|8~ When a child experiences death through a story, adults can offer a planned death education lesson in a more factual manner and a less threatening atmosphere.|9~

BACKGROUND

Some adults attempt to ignore death for themselves, and shield their children from it. Garanzini|10~ suggests this approach has negative effects:

"Attempts to shield children from the reality of death reinforces in them the perception that death is either not real, too frightening to examine or, worst of all, that the ending of life is not worth noting with respect and reverence. These unintended lessons are unhealthy . . . For the sake of a healthy . . . sound appreciation of the meaning of death, parents and teachers must face the topic realistically and naturally -- for themselves and for the children they teach."

Additionally, the imagination of a child often leads to far more fear and confusion than reality.|8,9,11,12~ Children are "excellent observers" but "poor interpreters."|10~

Preschool children, however, experience death almost daily. Death is a natural part of their lives, just as it is for adults.|13-15~ Death experiences for young children include stepping on insects, wilting flowers, television deaths in cartoons, movies, dramas, and news reports, death of pets, and death of loved ones from siblings to grandparents. A range of emotions can be evoked from these experiences. Yet even small deaths can have an enormous impact when children are assisted in learning from them.|10,16,17~ Through small deaths, children practice being able to bear unpleasant feelings, which is a precursor to mastering grief.|18~ Kubler-Ross|19~ believes the grief and fears experienced in childhood are best expressed in childhood. Parness|20~ warns the ultimate impact of unexpressed grief in childhood may not be apparent for years. The ability to successfully cope with death and to express grief is critical for healthy child development.|5,11,16,18,20-22~

Parents and teachers of preschool children rarely teach death education formally, but they frequently respond informally to death experiences brought up by children.|17~ In addition to responding to real death experiences, planned death education provides important opportunities to investigate information and feelings without having the strength of emotion attached to a real death experience. Effective death education must deal with feelings, factual information, open discussion of beliefs, and learning skills for resolving grief.|9~ Parents, teachers, and other adults can use these guidelines to teach children to cope with death.

Many children's books with death themes as well as literature on a child's understanding of death are available. Children's books offer variety in the way death is treated or presented. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Death Themes in Literature for Children Ages 3-8
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.