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When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death
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When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  297 ratings  ·  43 reviews
For over 25 years, families have used When Dinosaurs Die to explain death, dying, and coping with grief and loss -- from the creators of the beloved Dino Tales: Life Guide for Families series, which has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Straightforward and comprehensive, this indispensable book is a comforting aid to help young kids and families through a difficult time in thei
Paperback, 32 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published 1996)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  297 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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Dec 15, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: picture
My friends' kids were given this by the hospital, so I'm going to have a look at it.
Hope it is useful.
A very thorough, no frills, age-appropriate explanation of death for children. This book was illustrated by the same artist who illustrated the Arthur books, so the drawings felt warmly nostalgic to me. I especially appreciated the section on how friends might not know how to respond to the child's grief and the lack of euphemistic language around end of life. My only real complaint would be that the language was very gendered - this would not be as appropriate for a child grieving a non-binary ...more
Randie D. Camp, M.S.
This book offers a lot of clear, easy-to-understand information about death for children with questions. The authors are also honest, the information is factual, not sugar-coated, which was perfect for my six-year-old.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
In a perfect world, we wouldnt have to have books like these, explaining death to children. But this book does it well. My nephews (2 and 4) read many times after their brother died at 7 weeks old.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Does a thorough job of covering the stages of grief so that kids will understand.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pbnf-100
I think it Ms Brown did a great job of explaining the concept of death for children; and she presented differing reactions and beliefs in a compassionate manner.
Jamie Bye
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book explains what it means, as well as why, someone dies. Marc and Laurie, husband and wife, team up in this book to teach children about death. A family of dinosaurs discusses death while their grandpa lays in bed appearing to be sick. This books is very comprehensive and teaches readers that there are many different ways that people can die. It talks about how to handle feelings that they you may have when someone dies. The story also discusses how death can impact friendships, and how t ...more
Danielle H
This is the everything guide to talking with kids candidly about death and dying. It is not a one time read. This book will definitely require supervision along the way. It has a lot of information in it--about biology, psychological responses, spirituality. It also goes into specifics of how someone might die--from death by suicide and overdose to accidents and old age. It is split into helpful sections, so perhaps a session plan or lesson plan per section at a time would be the best option. It ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was given to me when I was five, after my mother had given birth to a still-born baby, and I can genuinely say that it was probably my favorite book ever from my childhood. It talks about death in an honest and helpful way, making clear that it is a natural part of life and can come in many forms. It doesn't sugar-coat death, but it also presents its information in a pleasant way that is easy to understand for a young child. I'm now in my early 20s, and I frequently remember this book ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good overview of the definitions of life and death. Lots of info on different ways people feel when someone dies and how to cope with your feelings or offer support. Lots of different cultural practices for remembering someone who has died. Includes many ways people may die. It’s not really a book you read cover to cover with your kids, but rather scan and read whatever is appropriate to the situation or questions they’re asking.
Stephanie K.
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great book as it helped my son understand death better after Granny passed. It explains why someone die, what happens to their body. Most importanly they talk about feelings; as we know griving can cause a lot of misunderstood emotions.

Lesson: summarizing: students can express how they feel when they lose a love one
Maria Guadalupe
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: grief-children
As a school social worker, I like to have this book available. I have used it sparingly and have only gotten through part of it before kids open up. The drawings are lovely but the content can be overwhelming for kids to read alone.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty good non-denominational book about death/dying/grief for younger kids. Includes ideas on how to honor your lost loved one (including praying, but when they discuss actual ceremonies they include some from different cultures, not just Christian).
This book did a decent job talking about death. It covered a lot of the kinds of questions children might ask.
Alicia Steagall
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, perfect book to read to a child to understand death , how to deal with it, etc
Lindsey Hulsey
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Answers basic questions in straight forward ways but appropriate for kids 5 and up. Very cute and helpful.
Paiton Larson
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book explains what it means when, as well as why, someone dies. It teaches readers that there are many different ways that people can die, and about the feelings that they may have when someone dies. The story discusses how death can impact friendships, and how to say goodbye to people who die. When Dinosaurs Die teaches readers about keeping customs, what comes after death, and also ways to remember someone. In the classroom I could use this book if there was a death of a community member ...more
Abby Pooch
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bereavement, children
This is a very well-written book about death for children. It is succinct, and manages to throw in some bits of lightheartedness with the speech bubbles and the drawings. This book does bring up religious ideas about death, but presents the views and practices of several different religions, so of all the bereavement books for children, this presents the most diverse views about religious beliefs about death. There is one page that talks about people being killed that may be a bit mature for man ...more
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Damn! I remember reading this for the first time. I remember it being really sad and scary because there were drawings of dead dinosaurs, not like normal dinosaurs, but one like people.

I thought it was a sad book and that was mostly because I read it when I was 6. Over the years I dabbed back at it. The last time I read it was probably when I was 13, it has been so long.

My mom probably got it when my grandpa died, to explain it better to us. I remember a little bit of the day, and where I was a
Sep 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
I read this to G at a funeral home, which is certainly an appropriate setting (we were there for a friend's grandfather who had passed away). It's a pretty good tool for talking to kids about death, I think, though G lost interest right before the last two pages which covered things the living can do to remember the dead. Praying and God is mentioned, but religion is not dominant, which I appreciated. To be fair, we had already read about 5 other books before this one (Lynch and Sons in Milford, ...more
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is the most thorough book I've seen so far for children about death. While the dinosaur characters make the book a little too lighthearted for my taste the Browns cover some tough territory from ways to die (including suicide) and funerals to grieving customs.

You might only want to share a few parts of the book and not the whole thing at once. It's pretty dense information for a picture book.
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a masterpiece for children in late elementary and younger. It covers the biggest aspects of death and dying from many angles (different religions, cultures, etc.). It explains what death is in simple terms, normalizes the range of emotions one can feel about death, and offers suggestions for what to do post-death to deal with it and to remember the deceased. Finally, it offers a glossary of death-related terms.
Maritza Valle
The authors did a good job of making an informative, straightforward guide to discussing death, but this is by no means a typical "children's book" and perhaps that is the purpose - but I was left wanting more. This is probably not the best book to read in the thick of grief, as it has very little comfort/connection, but is an excellent resource for helping children understand death in the theoretical. ...more
Shelly Ball
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book to use to explain death to a child. I love the way it talks about the different ways that people view death and different traditions people have around death. I think it is a great way to help kids get their questions about death answered and a great way to begin a conversation about kids' own ideas about death. ...more
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
I just wasn't thrilled with this book.
On explaining death: "bang, bang, you're dead"? There was just so much in this book I would skip in explaining death to a child, that I do not recommend this book.
Lumi / Otso
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this is charming and covers a lot of aspects of death. my almost-6 year old was fascinated. we have been fortunate that she hasn't experienced the death of a loved one yet, so i can't speak to its effectiveness for a mourning kid. ...more
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An excellent, no-nosense explanation of death. There is no symbolic language, which makes it perfect for young children.
Julie Luzzo
Jun 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
this is a great book to help kids deal with death. I know that it helped my (then 4 year old) deal with the death of her beloved Papa!
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book presents death at a level my five year old can grasp. It also helped open the way for a lengthy discussion that would have been very difficult otherwise.
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: review
teaching children about death and dieing and how to morn and understand that they need to speak about their feeling s
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