Episode 78: Books for Childhood Grief with Jodi Meltzer


On this week's dose of book recommendations, library love, and literary enthusiasm, our Library Laura Podcast guest is Jodi Meltzer. Jodi is the award-winning author of two children's books, When You Lived in My Belly (about a baby and mother's journey from conception to birth, which we talked about on the Mother's Day Episode 56. ) and Goodnight Star, Whoever You Are (which addresses childhood grief). Goodnight Star, Whoever You Are helps kids cope with grief, loss, and longing in an enchanting way, sparking meaningful conversations about the everlasting power of love. Jodi is also a prolific blogger (especially about parenting, divorce, and grief) with a journalism background. We also chat about what middle grade books her son Alex might enjoy reading since he liked my recommendations so much last time! 

Keep in touch with Jodi Meltzer on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, or visit her website

Preorder Goodnight Star, Whoever You Are before October 26th! 

Books from today's episode are on the Library Laura storefront on bookshop.org

Follow the Library Laura Podcast on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and on the Podcast Blog


Jodi Meltzer's Books

When You Lived In My Belly - a beautiful book about a mother and baby's journey from conception to birth. We talked about this book on the Mother's Day Episode 56. What my listeners didn't know then is that this year pregnant with our first baby on Mother's Day and that's the day that we told our families. So this episode and book hold a special place in my heart. It's beautifully illustrated by Jodi's childhood best friend. (Bookshop | Amazon

Goodnight Star, Whoever You Are - Jodi's newest book releases on October 26th. You can pre-order now on Bookshop or Amazon!  Goodnight Star, Whoever You Are helps kids cope with grief, loss, and longing in an enchanting way, sparking meaningful conversations about the everlasting power of love. It also includes an "I Remember" section in the back to record precious memories. It's also illustrated by Jody King Camarra, Jodi's childhood best friend. 

Question: What do you do when you miss someone you love? 

The introduction to Goodnight Star, Whoever You Are, is written by music artist Andy Grammer.  He shares a story about baking a cake when he misses his mother, because that was one of the things they used to do together. He writes, "I’ve found that missing someone can also be creative and fun."  Jodi and I talked about what we do when we miss those we love. Getting facials and taking her daughter out to lunch remind Jodi of her mom. Drinking a Coca-Cola during my grandpa's birthday reminds me of him. 

Resources for Children and Families dealing with Grief and Loss

Children's Grief Awareness Day is November 18th, and Jodi wanted to make sure she had her book in the hands of children and families in advance of that day. She believes it's very important to acknowledge and talk about childhood grief because it impacts so many. 

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst (Bookshop | Amazon) - a well-known book on childhood grief that explains that we all have, "An Invisible String made of love. Even though you can't see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart, and know that you are always connected to the ones you love." 

Experience Camps - Jodi's kids have attended these camps and found them to be helpful in the grief process, especially finding other kids with common ground of loss of a parent. From the website, "Experience Camps is a national, no-cost program for grieving children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. Our one-week, overnight summer camp and year-round programs help to reframe the experience of grief and empower kids to develop invaluable coping skills that enable them to move forward with their lives. Through compassion, connection, and play, Experience Camps empowers grieving children to embody a life full of hope and possibility." 

The Children's Room - virtual support groups and resources for grieving children and their families

Balloons for Tiger by Lori Orlinsky - (Bookshop | Amazon) - this book for children also deals with grief, but more from the perspective of pet loss, another common source of childhood loss. We talked with author Lori Orlinsky on episode 47.

Book recommendations for Jodi’s son, Alex

When Jodi was originally on the show back on  Episode 56, we didn’t really plan to talk about books for Jodi's son Alex, but we ended up going there and it was a fun conversation. Since then, it turns Alex loved the books I recommended to him last time, especially New Kid by Jerry Craft and Turtle Boy by Evan Wolkenstein. When he heard Jodi was coming back on the podcast, he asked for some more recommendations. 

He's currently reading Brook and Brax: Undercover Ninjas by Antonio Lumley that has some great anti-bullying messaging, martial arts, and of course some magical ninja suits. 

Get A Grip, Vivy Cohen  by Sarah Kapit (Bookshop | Amazon) autistic eleven-year-old Vivy Cohen won't let anything stop her from playing baseball--not when she has a major-league star as her pen pal. I recommended this one because the family is Jewish...which was a selling point for Alex. But it's a fun story and it's written all in letters, which I loved. 

Willodeen  by Katherine Applegate (Bookshop | Amazon)  - Applegate is the author of The One and Only Ivan, Wishtree, and so many others and she writes an animal character brilliantly. Willodeen deals with theme of loss of parents and of rescuing animals (like Turtle Boy did), and also has a great message of biodiversity and conservation. 

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly (Bookshop | Amazon) - I felt like this book had some similarities to Turtle Boy, which Alex had enjoyed. It features Iris, a deaf girl who loves fixing radios even though she can’t hear. She learns about a whale named Blue 55 that sings on a different frequency than others and gets inspired to write him a song that he can hear. It's a good adventure with love of animals, family ties, and great deaf community representation. 

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart (Bookshop | Amazon) - One of my favorite middle grade books. I think it would be great for Alex because it involves the loss of a parent, but it's also quirky, fun, cross-country adventure story. 

I'm Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith  (Bookshop | Amazon) - just good fun and humor for kids and adults alike. I read this recently and enjoyed it so much I asked for a copy for my birthday. For appreciators of Shel Silverstein. 

Casey Grimes: The Mostly Invisible Boy by AJ Vanderhorst (Bookshop | Amazon) - AJ was a guest on Episode 24 and this series is a fun adventure book for children and I think Alex would enjoy it.

One Kid's Trash by Jamie Sumner (Bookshop | Amazon) - reminded of this book when Jodi mentioned the book Alex is reading with an anti-bullying message. This book has that message as well. Strange premise but actually well developed and a fun read. 

What Jodi's been reading lately

 Just started reading The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate (Bookshop | Amazon) - which is described on Bookshop as, "a dramatic historical novel of three young women searching for family amid the destruction of the post-Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who learns of their story and its vital connection to her students' lives." I read another book by Lisa Wingate that was hard but so good. This one, likewise, sounds fascinating! 

Jodi recently had someone ask her what book she would say had the biggest impact on her life, and she ended up saying probably "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Dr. Maya Angelou (Bookshop | Amazon). Partially because of that question, Jodi re-read this book recently. She explained that she first read it when she was a young teen (who had heretofore been in a Judy Blume phase), and Angelou's unapologetically raw and real writing had a big impact on Jodi's decision to write things in the first person and to tackle things in her own voice. She's gone on to be a blogger and writer for several publications sharing her thoughts on parenting, divorce, grief, and more. So having this book in her life at such a pivotal moment really impacted her writing voice. Revisiting this beautiful work helped her realize what an impact it's had! 


With lots of literary love from my library to yours! 

~ Laura 

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Laura is an avid reader who is happiest when surrounded by books, tea, blankets and/or friends. Host of the Library Laura Podcast.

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