The Next Place – Grief

The Next Place

Warren Hanson, Author and Illustrator

Waldman House Press, Fiction, 1997

Suitable for:  Ages 5 and Up

Theme:  Grief and Bereavement, Celebration of Life

Opening and Synopsis:  “The next place I go will be as peaceful and familiar as a sleepy summer Sunday and a sweet, untroubled mind.  And yet…it won’t be anything like any place I’ve ever been…or seen… or even dreamed of in the place I leave behindI won’t know where I’m going, and I won’t know where I’ve been as I tumble through the always and look back toward the when.”   This is a beautiful picture book for children and adults about letting go to a place where  light and love will shine forever.  After 9/11,  a grassroots effort formed called “The Next Place Network, and this book was given to surviving families.

Says Warren Hanson about his book:  ““The Next Place is a peaceful, comforting, quiet and hopeful book for times when we face the loss of someone we love. Or for when we face the reality of our own certain death. It is very deliberately not a traditionally religious look at death and the hereafter. We live in a world of many beliefs and backgrounds. I did not want the book to leave anyone out of its message of comfort. So I created the words and the illustrations in such a way that I hoped the reader would bring his or her own faith to it. Since the book came out, it has been embraced by people of many different religions and beliefs.”

Why I like this book:  Warren Hanson’s book is a celebration of life and portrays an afterlife in a non-religious, beautiful and soft  way.  It is an inspirational and poetic journey about death.    The illustrations are gorgeous.   This is a book I would give to a family that is dealing with the loss of a loved one.  It is an uplifting  book to read and discuss with children when they have lost a member of a family through war, an illness, an accident.  It would also be helpful to share if you have a family will soon making a transition.  This book brings hope and puts a smile on your face.  Kids will be so much more open to talking and asking questions.

Activities:  Have children plant a special tree in memory of a loved one.  Have them draw or  write about special memories so they won’t forget.   Make a memory box where you can put something special that belonged to a loved one inside.  You may want to add photos, cards/letters written to the child by the loved one.   That way kids can touch, read, and look at the items, and keep their memories alive.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

40 thoughts on “The Next Place – Grief

  1. This looks like a wonderful book, Pat. I’m always glad to add titles about coping with grief to the list because it’s such a difficult topic – people need lots to choose from. Thank you for adding this one.


  2. That sounds poetic and beautiful and so peaceful. Great choice, Pat and I think I should read it because I am writing one on this subject. Thanks!


  3. There can never be enough books on grief. When my late husband died I had a book by Elizabeth Kubler Ross that I tried reading to the boys but I could never finish it without weeping. Sometimes it is better to let someone else read to the kids than the one directly experiencing the loss themselves.

    Thanks for adding yet another valuable book to the list, Patricia.


  4. Pat, I have this book and it’s wonderful. I got it after my father died. It has brought me a great deal of comfort, and even though my kids were too young at the time to fully understand, I do think this is a perfect choice for K and up.


    • Julie, thank you for sharing your thoughts on the book. The right books come to us at the right moment. I had three family deaths in a ten-month period. Now I’m dealing with another.


  5. This book looks like it would bring much comfort to kids experiencing loss. When I was in 3rd grade, one of my classmates died in a car accident. I still remember the feelings of confusion and sadness that I felt in that time. And I think the adults in our lives really struggled with how to talk to us about the loss. Books like this one are important. Thanks for sharing, Pat.


  6. What a wonderful find! I got choked up as I read it this morning, thinking about missing my own mother and having spent yesterday admitting my father into hospice.

    We’ll have to add this book to our shop.

    At an event last year someone spoke to me about wanting to get a book for a child who had just lost her grandmother. I recommended “Ladder to the Moon” and the woman sat down in our booth and began reading. I got distracted by other customers and a few minutes later when I went to check on her she was crying. She absolutely loved the book and through her tears confided in me that the girl she was hoping to find a book for was her own daughter, and the grandmother that had died was her own mother. There’s certain magic when you run a book shop and someone asks you to help find just the right book… and you do.

    Quick aside… Ladder to the Moon is written by Maya Soetero-Ng, President Obama’s sister as a gift to the young granddaughter that would never meet her grandmother.


    • Craig, I am so sorry about your father. Hospice is wonderful for the end of life care. My mother was treated by Hospice– now her sister, my aunt. The book you recommended sounds wonderful. Will have to read it. You are in such a lovely position to help people find what they need. Must make you feel good. By the way, even after I post something on a book you have recommended, I still get comments. Got an interesting post a few days ago on Playing War from a vet and military kid.


  7. This is a beautiful book and one I would love to have. Even though it has been years ago, I still miss my grandmother. Now I have been told my mother has liver cancer and it is spreading. Decisions have to be made. It’s a confusing time right now and I know I am going to need something like this. Thankyou Pat.


    • Diane, I am sorry to hear about your mother. I know how tough it is and what you’re going through. My mother had cancer and it spread to her liver. They told us she would go soon, but she didn’t. No pain until the last 3 days. Her transition was memorable and I felt like her birthing coach. It ended up being a very special time that I will always treasure. We can talk. My brother has throat cancer and just finished aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. I am at his daughter’s wedding this weekend and we’re going to skype the ceremony so he can watch it live.


      • I am sorry to hear about Ms. Tulloch’s mother and your brother and mother, Ms. Tilton. It has to be very hard to see a person get sick and die. Books like this are needed to help kids (and adults) with death / dying. I like your idea of planting a tree to remember the person 🙂


  8. Pat…I second the comments of everyone…you always share amazing books that address difficult topics in sensitive ways. Thank you for that!
    I found a children’s book by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Remember the Secret. If noone has done it yet, I might review it next week…it’s also about the loss of a loved one and is done very nicely.
    Also, the activities you give are terrific…great ways to remember those we love.:)


  9. I liked reading what the author said about the book being embraced by people with different religions and beliefs.


  10. This sounds like a very important and beautiful book, Patricia. I was just discussing with a number of authors during the AFCC about the theme of death in children’s books, and apparently publishers still find it quite ‘risky’ to publish something along this theme. Very interesting.


  11. Pingback: More Reflections « Mother of an Angel Blog

  12. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is one of the best authors to read when you’ve gone through loss. I loved On Death & Dying and I’ve also read The Tunnel & the Light. How to Deal with Grief by Karen Colquhoun is a good read too. What I have found difficult is that people who havent gone through something big don’t understand.


    • Jacquie, thank you for commenting. I agree, I love the work Elisabeth Kubler-Ross did on death and dying. It helped people understand the stages of grief. The grief books I was sharing are for children, to hep them through a difficult time and share feelings. I experienced three family deaths within a 10-month window. I know. I appreciate your thoughtful remarks.


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