Abstract 6, Volume 10, Number 3, Winter 2015

Grappling with Death and Loss through Children’s Literature in the Social Studies


Brad M. Maguth

Rachel Boit

The University of Akron

Lisa Muenz

Western Reserve Local Schools

Faith R. Smith

Wonder World Child Development Center


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­All too often tragedy and disaster strike the world around us, and when they do, people often are left speechless and powerless. In schools, there is no subject as uniquely situated to helping children develop an understanding of social events as the social studies; as history is filled with instances of loss, tragedy, and death (i.e. war, conflict, natural disasters, etc.). During these difficult times, teachers often encounter important questions from inquisitive children on these challenging topics. This manuscript discusses how an elementary social studies teacher leveraged the assets of children’s literature to assist her students in learning to grapple with the death of their beloved classroom pet. Parents and educators are provided literary resources and strategies to assist students in grappling with the concepts of loss or death.

Key words: social studies, death, loss, tragedy, children’s literature, controversial issues, classroom pet, elementary


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