There are a fair number of books that help children navigate a loss. Few, however, help them navigate the complex emotions and questions that a person (of any age) experiences while they are anticipating a loss.
Lola and the Tree of Life does just that. Lola, a young girl, has just come from a visit with her grandparents, one of whom, Poppy, is in the hospital. When she and her parents get home, Lola and her dog Skye visit their friend Tree who has been around “before you were born … before Poppy’s grandfather’s grandfather was born … long before this town was a town. I was an acorn when this land’s first people were here,” adding, “I have seen many suns and many moons. Many friends have come … and gone.” Tree’s comments invite Lola to open up. She speaks freely about her grandfather’s illness and that she’s concerned he might not get better. Tree’s gentle but direct approach to talking about death reassures Lola that we’re all part of the circle of life and that the people we love are always in our hearts. Lola finds comfort in hugging Tree’s large trunk and being cradled in its branches before heading home at the end of the day.
The lovely dialogue in this book is reassuring and meets children where they are, inviting them to share their own experiences with illness and death.
Lola and the Tree of Life was written for ages four to eight, but the thoughtful messages resonate with young and old alike, reminding all of us of the circle of life and the role each of us plays in keeping the memories of our loved ones alive for ourselves and future generations. Adults will also be reminded of the importance of including children in age-appropriate discussions about death.
The child you’re reading to may have questions. Susan Reising has put together some Q&A that may help you answer some of the most common questions children have: Resources for Adults
To learn more about Lola and the Tree of Life and to order copies, visit https://lolaandthetreeoflife.com/
To enter to win a signed copy of Lola and the Tree of Life, visit our Giveaways page!
Learn more about the book, children's grief and the circle of life by listening to our podcast episode: Lola and the Tree of Life, A Conversation With Author Susan Reising.
Discussion Questions for You and a Young Person
- How did this book make you feel?
- How do you think Lola felt about her grandfather being ill?
- How have you felt when someone you love isn’t feeling well?
- Think about a very large, very old tree in our yard (or a park). If a tree has lived for a hundred years or more what do you think has all happened around that tree during that time? Who has passed by or visited the tree? What were they doing? Who were they with? How might they have felt?
- (If the child is anticipating the death of a loved one) How does reading this book make you feel about _____ being sick?
- (if the child is anticipating the death of a loved one) What are some of your memories of ______? What do you enjoy doing together? Which memories make you feel happy? Which make you feel sad?
- (If the child has experienced the death of a loved one) What do you miss most about _____? What memories of _____ make you happy?
- (If the child has experienced the death of a loved one) In the book, Tree says that we always have our loved ones in our heart.” How do you feel _____ in your heart?
About the Author
Susan Reising, professional development coach and trainer, writer and champion question-asker, continues her lifelong quest to better understand our world and the diverse people who inhabit it. She lives in the U.S. Midwest, where she enjoys spending time with her favorite people, dogs, gardens and trees. She also loves sunshine, coffee and a good story. More about her children’s book, “Lola and the Tree of Life,” is at www.LolaandtheTreeofLife.com.