Lessons on loss: grief in contemporary children's fiction

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Many scholars have pointed to the importance of books to children's development and wellbeing.
This paper explores how children's books in general and fiction in particular can serve as a resource for children seeking to navigate the difficult emotional terrain of death, dying and bereavement. Reviewing prior research on death and bereavement in children's literature and in children's experience, it argues that studies of death-related themes in children's books have focused on how these reflect what is known about how children grieve and how they might be used to help grieving children. This paper seeks to provide a broader contextualised account of the role that such books can play by relating them to marketplace relations and the culture of grief. It draws on a detailed case study of one acclaimed children's novel, A Monster Calls, tracing its origins, production and marketing, its critical and consumer reception, and how it fits with the work of medical and other practitioners seeking to support grieving children. It argues that while this particular book is an outstanding example of children's fiction as a source of bibliotherapy, several marketplace factors may compromise the value of novels as a bibliotherapeutic resource. This makes the selection of appropriate books for grieving children particularly important.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventChild and Teen Consumption Conference - , Italy
Duration: 12 Dec 201214 Dec 2012


ConferenceChild and Teen Consumption Conference

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Children’s books; childhood bereavement; consumer culture; culture of grief


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