One of the most difficult concepts for young children to understand is death - particularly death of a family member or pet. Tomie de Paola's Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs is a long-time favorite of mine. In fact, I read it to my own children many times when they were trying to grasp the concept of death. It can be disturbing for a child to participate in funeral rites for the first time. Their regular world is turned upside down while people gather together with food, tell stories, cry, and laugh. When there is a mix of faith traditions, the entire experience can be even more confusing.
In Kaddish for Grandpa in Jesus' Name Amen, five-year-old Emily's grandfather dies. Their special relationship is symbolized by Grandpa's glasses' case which he was always misplacing and Emily was good at finding. When he dies, Emily's family decides to celebrate his life and remember him in two ways - the Christian way and the Jewish way. Emily finds great comfort in the different funeral rites, and the story celebrates both faith traditions of this blended family. This unique approach to remembering a loved one becomes an integral part of how Emily remembers her grandfather and provides the touching final lines of the story:
It wasn't the Christian way and it wasn't the Jewish way. It was just my way. My Kaddish for Grandpa in Jesus' name amen.
I highly recommend this book. ISBN 978-0-689-80185-3. Athenueum Books for Young Readers.