Donald M. Berwick (born September 9, 1946) is a former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Prior to his work in the administration, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement a not-for-profit organization.
On July 7, 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Berwick to serve as the Administrator of CMS through a recess appointment. On December 2, 2011, he resigned because of heavy Republican opposition to his appointment and his potential inability to win a confirmation vote. On June 18, 2013, Berwick declared his candidacy for governor of Massachusetts, but lost the Democratic Party nomination to Attorney GeneralMartha Coakley.
Berwick has studied the management of health care systems, with emphasis on using scientific methods and evidence-based medicine and comparative effectiveness research to improve the tradeoff among quality, safety, and costs.
Among IHI's projects are online courses for health care professionals for reducing Clostridium difficile infections, lowering the number of heart failure readmissions or managing advanced disease and palliative care. In March 2012 he joined the Center for American Progress as a Senior Fellow.
Berwick grew up in Moodus, Connecticut. His father, Philip, worked as the town's family doctor. His mother, Rosalind Fine, was the primary caretaker of Berwick and his two younger brothers until she died from ovarian cancer in 1961. Because of Fine's efforts to promote the construction of a new elementary school in Moodus, the school's library was named after her when it was built.
Berwick graduated from Nathan Hale-Ray High School and went on to obtain his B.A. from Harvard College, where he graduated summa cum laude. While at Harvard, Berwick met his future wife, Ann, in his freshman biology class, where they were lab partners. The couple have four children: Ben, Dan, Jessica, and Becca. Berwick earned both an M.D.cum laude from Harvard Medical School and an M.P.P. from John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1972. He completed his medical residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston.
Berwick began his career as a pediatrician at Harvard Community Health Plan; in 1983 he became the plan's first Vice President of Quality-of-Care Measurement. In that position, Berwick investigated quality control measures in other industries such as aeronautics and manufacturing, in order to consider their application in health care settings. From 1987 to 1991, Berwick was co-founder and Co-Principal Investigator for the National Demonstration Project on Quality Improvement in Health Care, designed to explore opportunities for quality improvement in health care. Based on this work, Berwick left Harvard Community Health Plan in 1989 and co-founded the IHI (Institute for Healthcare Improvement).
Berwick is Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Health Care Policy in the Department of Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is also a pediatrician, Adjunct Staff in the Department of Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston, and a Consultant in Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Berwick has published over 129 articles in professional journals on health care policy, decision analysis, technology assessment, and health care quality management. He is the co-author of several books, including Cholesterol, Children, and Heart Disease: an Analysis of Alternatives (1980), Curing Health Care (1990), and New Rules: Regulation, Markets and the Quality of American Health Care (1996). In February 2013, he participated as a speaker on Voices in Leadership, an original Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health webcast series, in a discussion titled, "Leadership in the Next Steps on Health Reform," moderated by Dr. John McDonough.
Nomination and controversy
On April 19, 2010, Berwick was nominated to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which oversees the two federal programs.
Berwick was quoted to say, "20 percent to 30 percent of health spending is 'waste' that yields no benefit to patients, and that some of the needless spending is a result of onerous, archaic regulations enforced by his agency." Berwick's critics have cited his statements about the need for health care to redistribute resources from the rich to the poor and his favorable statements about the British health service. One statement in particular created considerable debate when he said, "The decision is not whether or not we will ration care—the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open."
Berwick suggested Republicans had "distorted" his meaning when he said, "My point is that someone, like your health insurance company, is going to limit what you can get. That's the way it's set up. The government, unlike many private health insurance plans, is working in the daylight. That's a strength." The Obama administration urged Berwick to stay evasive and avoid defending his past statements on the British health service, spending caps and high-technology care.
He was further criticized as having socialist leanings when he said, "Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional."
An editorial wrote that his policy ideas could cut health care costs. Conservatives criticized Berwick, based on comments he made about health care being, by definition, redistribution of wealth, rationing care with "our eyes open" and complete lives system.
Berwick advocated cutting health costs by adopting some of the approaches of Great Britain's National Health Services (NHS) and its National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). NICE evaluates the costs and effectiveness of medical therapy that is covered by the NHS as guidance for local authorities to decide what to cover. Mark McClellan, who served in the Bush administration, also advocated adopting some of NICE's methods.
Conservative critics claim, "NICE decides which healthcare people will get and which they won't." Philip Klein in The American Spectator dubbed him "Obama's Rationing Man". The chairman of NICE called these statements "outrageous lies".
Senator John Kerry defended Berwick against "phony assertions" and accused Republicans of trying "to crank up the attack machine and make his nomination a distorted referendum on reform". Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has historically been a Republican supporter of Berwick, however, writing an op-ed in The Washington Post in August 2000 praising Berwick's work.
Berwick was installed by recess appointment on July 7, 2010, before confirmation hearings were scheduled by the Democratic-controlled Senate committee. Berwick could thus serve until the summer of 2011 without a Senate approval. The White House had talked up the possibility of a re-nomination through the fall of 2010; on January 26, 2011, the President re-nominated Berwick. On March 4, 2011, 42 U.S. Senators wrote the White House and asked for the nomination to be withdrawn. The signers of the letter were all Republicans.
Berwick resigned his position at CMS on December 2, 2011. In a speech on Wednesday, December 7, 2011, in Orlando, Florida, at a meeting of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, an organization he once led, the long-time patient-safety advocate gave an account of his time in government service and where he believes the future of healthcare is going.
Work in the UK
Donald Berwick was the lead author of the Berwick Report, a seminal report into patient safety in England, following the Stafford Hospital scandal.
2014 Massachusetts gubernatorial election
Main article: Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2014
On June 17, 2013, Berwick announced his run for the Massachusetts Governor's office. Berwick framed himself as progressive on major issues and said it was crucial that Massachusetts continue to focus on health care reform and the well-being of children, topics he has focused on during his career. Berwick, who holds three degrees from Harvard, repeatedly emphasized his experience in helping health organizations deliver better care to consumers, an asset he said he would bring to being the state’s chief executive.
Some of Berwick's specific goals for the governorship included focusing on job creation and economic development, instituting single-payer healthcare in Massachusetts, and ending child poverty in the state by the year 2024. Following the conviction of former probation commissioner John O'Brien on corruption charges, Berwick added that rooting out corruption would be another priority.
Although Berwick was seen as the heir to the Massachusetts trend of electing political outsiders to high offices, like Governor Deval Patrick and Senator Elizabeth Warren, pundits raised concerns in the Summer of 2014 that Berwick had failed to gain the traction he needed to succeed in the primary. However, he outperformed nearly all projections and pollsters in the Democratic primary with 21% of the vote, which prompted the recognition of him being a "surprise" in the race.
Berwick conceded the Democratic nomination to MassachusettsAttorney GeneralMartha Coakley on September 9, 2014, who lost to Republican Charlie Baker at the general election.
Awards and honors
- Ernest A. Codman Award, 1999
- Alfred I. DuPont Award for excellence in children’s healthcare, 2001
- American Hospital Association, "Award of Honor", 2002
- Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London, 2004
- Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 2005
- Purpose Prize for "enlisting wide-scale cooperation and scientifically-proven protocols to help hospitals improve care and save more than 100,000 lives", 2007
- The 13th Annual Heinz Award for Public Policy, 2007
- Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Dublin October 20, 2012
- Berwick DM, Cretin S, Keeler EB (1980). Cholesterol, children, and heart disease: an analysis of alternatives. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-502669-1.
- Berwick DM, Godfrey AB, Roessner J (1990). Curing health care: new strategies for quality improvement. A report on the National Demonstration Project on Quality Improvement in Health Care. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 1-55542-294-2.
- Brennan TA, Berwick DM (1996). New rules: regulation, markets, and the quality of American health care. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-7879-0149-0.
- Berwick DM (2004). Escape fire. Designs for the future of health care. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 978-0-7879-7217-2.
- Read JL, Quinn RJ, Berwick DM, Fineberg HV, Weinstein MC (1984). "Preferences for health outcomes. Comparison of assessment methods". Medical Decision Making. 4 (3): 315–29. doi:10.1177/0272989X8400400307. PMID 6335216. .
- Berwick DM, Weinstein MC (July 1985). "What do patients value? Willingness to pay for ultrasound in normal pregnancy". Med Care. 23 (7): 881–93. doi:10.1097/00005650-198507000-00005. PMID 3925259. .
- Murphy JM, Berwick DM, Weinstein MC, Borus JF, Budman SH, Klerman GL (June 1987). "Performance of screening and diagnostic tests. Application of receiver operating characteristic analysis". Arch. Gen. Psychiatry. 44 (6): 550–5. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1987.01800180068011. PMID 3579501. .
- Berwick, Donald M. (January 1989). "Continuous improvement as an ideal in health care". The New England Journal of Medicine. 320 (1): 53–6. doi:10.1056/NEJM198901053200110. PMID 2909878. .
- Perrin, James M.; Homer, Charles J.; Berwick, Donald M.; Woolf, Alan D.; Freeman, Jean L.; Wennberg, John E. (May 1989). "Variations in rates of hospitalization of children in three urban communities". The New England Journal of Medicine. 320 (18): 1183–7. doi:10.1056/NEJM198905043201805. PMID 2710191. .
- Ayanian JZ, Berwick DM (1991). "Do physicians have a bias toward action? A classic study revisited". Medical Decision Making. 11 (3): 154–8. doi:10.1177/0272989X9101100302. PMID 1881269. .
- Berwick, Donald M. (1995). "The Toxicity of Pay for Performance"(PDF). Quality Management in Health Care (4(1)): 27–33. .
- Berwick DM (March 1996). "A primer on leading the improvement of systems". The BMJ. 312 (7031): 619–22. doi:10.1136/bmj.312.7031.619. PMC 2350403. PMID 8595340. .
- Berwick, Donald M. (October 1996). "Quality of health care. Part 5: Payment by capitation and the quality of care". The New England Journal of Medicine. 335 (16): 1227–31. doi:10.1056/NEJM199610173351611. PMID 8815948. .
- Berwick DM (April 1998). "Developing and testing changes in delivery of care". Annals of Internal Medicine. 128 (8): 651–6. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-128-8-199804150-00009. PMID 9537939. .
- Leape LL, Berwick DM (March 2000). "Safe health care: are we up to it?". The BMJ. 320 (7237): 725–6. doi:10.1136/bmj.320.7237.725. PMC 1117747. PMID 10720335. .
- Berwick DM (2002). "A user's manual for the IOM's 'Quality Chasm' report". Health Affairs (Millwood). 21 (3): 80–90. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.21.3.80. PMID 12026006. .
- Leape LL, Berwick DM, Bates DW (2002). "What practices will most improve safety? Evidence-based medicine meets patient safety". JAMA. 288 (4): 501–7. doi:10.1001/jama.288.4.501. PMID 12132984. .
- Berwick, D. M. (April 2003). "Disseminating innovations in health care". JAMA. 289 (15): 1969–75. doi:10.1001/jama.289.15.1969. PMID 12697800. .
- Berwick DM, Jain SH. "The Basis for Quality Care in Prepaid Group Practice", in Toward a 21st Century Health System: The Contributions and Promise of Prepaid Group Practice. Alain C. Enthoven & Laura A. Tollen eds. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004.
- Leape, L. L.; Berwick, DM (May 2005). "Five years after To Err Is Human: what have we learned?". JAMA. 293 (19): 2384–90. doi:10.1001/jama.293.19.2384. PMID 15900009. .
- Berwick, D. M.; Calkins, DR; McCannon, CJ; Hackbarth, AD (January 2006). "The 100,000 lives campaign: setting a goal and a deadline for improving health care quality". JAMA. 295 (3): 324–7. doi:10.1001/jama.295.3.324. PMID 16418469. .
- Berwick, D. M. (March 2008). "The science of improvement". JAMA. 299 (10): 1182–4. doi:10.1001/jama.299.10.1182. PMID 18334694. .
- Berwick, DM, Jain SH, and Porter ME. "Clinical Registries: The Opportunity For The Nation". Health Affairs Blogs, May 2011.
- ^Galewitz P. "Local hospitals and doctors join forces to improve health care, restrain costs", Kaiser Health News, July 22, 2009; accessed July 25, 2009.
- ^"Medicare administrator Donald Berwick resigns in the face of Republican opposition", Sarah Kliff, The Washington Post, November 23, 2011
- ^ ab"For governor, it’s Coakley vs. Baker", The Boston Globe, September 10, 2014
- ^"Rethinking comparative effectiveness research". Biotechnol Healthc. 6: 35–8. 2009. PMC 2799075. PMID 22478764.
- ^"Interview with Donald Berwick". Katherine T. Adams, Biotechnology Healthcare June 2009; 6(2): 35–38.
- ^Carmichael, Mary (March 29, 2010). "Five Things You Should Know About Donald Berwick, the New Medicare/Medicaid Chief". Newsweek.
- ^"Who Is Don Berwick and What Will He Mean for Reform?"Archived May 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Maggie Mahar March 30, 2010.
- ^Donald Berwick Joins CAP as Senior Fellow, americanprogress.org; accessed April 28, 2017.
- ^"Obituary: Dr. Philip Berwick" Derrick Stokes, Hartford Courant, November 8, 1995
- ^ abc"The Revolutionary" Neil Swidey, The Boston Globe, January 4, 2004
- ^Jonathan Klate, "Don Berwick in governor's race for right reasons: public service", Daily Hampshire Gazette, July 7, 2014.
- ^"Donald M. Berwick"Archived February 21, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative
- ^"Don Berwick stresses health care in race for Massachusetts governor", Associated Press, February 22, 2014.
- ^Feder, Barnaby J. "Thomas Pyle, 67, innovator in 1980s health care plans". The New York Times. July 21, 2007.
- ^"Report: hospital medication errors commonplace". Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio. July 28, 2006. Accessed July 25, 2009.
- ^"Leadership in the Next Steps on Health Reform". Archived from the original on 2015-10-04.
- ^White House. "President Obama Nominates Dr. Donald Berwick for Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services". April 19, 2010.
- ^ abcRobert Pear,"Health Official Takes Parting Shot at 'Waste'"The New York Times, December 3, 2011
- ^"Rethinking Comparative Effectiveness Research". Interview with Donald Berwick. Biotechnology Healthcare June 2009
- ^"Rethinking Comparative Effectiveness Research". Biotechnology Healthcare. 6 (2): 35–38. June 2009. PMC 2799075. PMID 22478764. Interview of Donald Berwick.
- ^Ben Domenech,"Obama Nominee Donald Berwick's Radical Agenda"[dead link]
- ^Michael Tanner, "'Death panels' were an overblown claim – until now", May 27, 2010.
- ^Editorial, "Donald Berwick, a nominee well-suited to trim the fat on health care", The Washington Post, June 29, 2010.
- ^"Obama's cynical recess appointment of Donald Berwick", Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post, July 8, 2010; 2:50 PM ET,
- ^"The Evidence Gap: British Balance Benefit vs. Cost of Latest Drugs", Gardiner Harris, The New York Times, December 2, 2008.
- ^Anderson, Jeffrey H. (2010-04-29). "Not NICE". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^Klein, Philip. "Obama's Rationing Man"Archived May 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- ^Gardiner Harris, "Official Defends British Health Service Against 'Outrageous Lies'", The New York Times, August 21, 2009.
- ^Milligan S. "Kerry comes to defense of nominee to run Medicare, Medicaid programs", The Boston Globe. May 14, 2010.
- ^Newt Gingrich, "High-Tech Cure for Medical Mistakes". American Enterprise Institute August 2, 2000.
- ^Pear, Robert (July 6, 2010). "Obama to Bypass Senate to Name Health Official". The New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
- ^Pear, Robert (November 23, 2011). "Obama's Pick to Head Medicare and Medicaid Resigns Post". The New York Times. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
- ^Ahier, Brian (December 8, 2011). "Remember the Patient". Healthcare, Technology, and Government 2.0. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
- ^Berwick D, Bibby J, Bisognano M, Callaghan I, Dalton D, Dixon-Woods M, et al. A promise to learn – a commitment to act. Improving the Safety of Patients in England: National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England, 2013(August)
- ^Joshua Miller (June 18, 2013). "Health leader Donald Berwick starts bid for governor". The Boston Globe.
- ^"Let's end child poverty". Blue Mass Group. March 24, 2014.
- ^Miller, Joshua. "Don Berwick pitches liberal agenda to business audience". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
- ^Scharfenberg, David. "Role of political outsider reconsidered". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- ^Godlberg, Cary. "Surprise in Mass. Primary: 21 Percent for Single-Payer Candidate Berwick". www.wbur.org. WBUR. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
- ^Encore.org. Five social innovators over age 60 receive $100,000 "Purpose Prize (news release)". September 4, 2007. Accessed July 25, 2009.
- ^"Donald Berwick". The Heinz Awards.
A Selected, Annotated Bibliography on Sibling Death in Literature for Children
Prepared by Charles A. Corr, PhD, CT
The following bibliography on death-related literature for children is specifically focused on the death of a brother or sister. The twenty five listed books are arranged in four general categories: deaths resulting from illness; perinatal deaths, infant deaths, and SIDS; deaths resulting from accidents; and other bereavement situations. Brief descriptions of each title are intended to provide guidance concerning topics, themes, and reading levels. I always recommend, however, that you examine a specific title for yourself to determine its strengths, weaknesses, and suitability for the children to whom you might offer it. No book—or any other resource, for that matter—is appropriate for every child or situation.
You can simply make these books available to children who can read on their own, but it is often better to read a particular book together with a child and then to follow up with a discussion of the issues it raises. One way to encourage discussions with older children is to ask them to examine picture books or simple stories in order to help you evaluate their value or suitability for use with younger readers.
The titles that are included here have been selected from a much larger body of literature for children focused on deaths and losses of all types. You can often locate copies of these books in local public libraries or through used book services, such as Amazon.com. Another good source for information on these books and on related literature for children and adults is the Centering Corporation, 402-553-1200 or www.centering.org.
Readers who might be interested in other aspects of death-related literature for children can consult a special issue of Omega, Journal of Death and Dying (Vol. 48, No. 4; 2004). In addition to articles on using death-related literature to help bereaved children, that issue contains four articles that describe death-related literature for children in relation to: bereavement, grief, and mourning; spirituality; grandparents; and pet loss. For those who do not regularly subscribe or have access to this journal, the special issue is available from the publisher at a nominal fee (contact Baywood Publishing Company at 800-638-7819, 631-691-1270, or www.baywood.com).
Finally, if you know of a title in the field of death-related literature that you like or would want to recommend, please send it to me in care of email@example.com or call 727-360-1118.
Deaths Resulting from Illness
Anonymous. (2004). My Always Sister Coloring Book. : to Remember (, 55104; www.aplacetoremember.com; tel. 800-631-0973 or 651-645-7045), 16 pages.
Callie is a bunny who talks in this book about learning that his new baby sister is sick and must stay in the hospital. One day, Callie%27s Daddy tells him that his new sister has died and they have a funeral with music. Callie experiences many emotions and draws a picture of how he feels. A coloring book for very young children.
Coburn, J. B. (1964). Annie and the Sand Dobbies: A Story about Death for Children and Their Parents. : Seabury Press, 121 pages.
In this book, 11-year-old Danny describes his encounters with the deaths of both his toddler sister from a respiratory infection and his dog after it ran away from home and is found frozen to death. Most important is the intervention of a neighbor who uses imaginary characters to suggest that the deceased are safe with God. The author was the Episcopal bishop of when he wrote this book for middle school readers.
Dean, A. (1992). Meggie%27s Magic. : Viking Penguin, 32 pages. Illustrated by C. Stevens.
This brightly-colored book begins by reporting that Meggie got very sick and died when she was 8 years old. Afterwards, her mother, father, and sister feel sad and lonely. Meggie%27s sister tells about the special place where they would hide, talk about special things, and play games. When she visits that place again, she finds it still filled with their special magic. It is an inside kind of magic, which means that Meggie%27s magic still remains inside each of her family members. A picture book for prereaders.
Dodge, N. C. (1984). Thumpy%27s Story: A Story of Love and Grief Shared by Thumpy, the Bunny. Illustrated by K. Veara. : Prairie Lark Press (, , ), 24 pages.
A rabbit tells a simple story about the death of his sister, Bun, after an unexplained episode of unusual breathing. Thumpy describes how Bun%27s death has affected each member of their family. He also explains that it helps to talk about death and to share sadness. A picture book for young readers; also available as a 32-page coloring book for children ages 3 and up, a 48-page workbook for older children, and a Spanish edition.
Jampolsky, G. G., & Taylor, P. (Eds.). (1978). There Is a Rainbow Behind Every Dark Cloud. : Celestial Arts, 96 pages.
Eleven children, 8 to 19 years old, explain what it is like to have a life-threatening illness and the choices that youngsters have in helping themselves (for example, when first told about one%27s illness, in going back to school, coping with feelings, and talking about death). The children themselves contributed most of the black and white drawings.
Jampolsky, G. G., & Murray, G. (Eds.). (1982). Straight from the Siblings: Another Look at the Rainbow. : Celestial Arts, 94 pages.
Brothers and sisters of children who have a life-threatening illness write about the feelings of siblings and ways to help all of the children who are involved in such difficult situations. The siblings also contributed most of the drawings in this book. These two books from the Center for Attitudinal Healing seem best suited for middle school readers. They remind readers that coping with loss and grief are not just postdeath experiences.
Lee, V. (1972). The Magic Moth. : Seabury, 64 pages. Drawings by R. Cuffari.
Ten-year-old Maryanne, the middle child in the Foss family, has been sick for a long time with an incurable heart disease. Knowing that Maryanne will soon die is hard for every member of the family. In particular, Mark-O (Mark Oliver), her 6-year-old brother, tries to show his love by bringing Maryanne presents and listening to her stories. When Maryanne dies, Mark-O is helped to make sense of this experience by the metaphor of a moth as it experiences a transition from one mode of life to another. A storybook for young readers.
Temes, R. (2002). The : A Child%27s Guide through Grief. Far Hills, NJ: New Horizon Press (, , ), 48 pages. Illustrated by K. Carlisle.
Both text and black-and-white drawings in this book reflect the emptiness a 9-year-old boy feels in his life and in his heart, along with many other reactions he encounters after his big sister, Jennifer, dies. Sharing his grief with his baby sitter, Betsy, helps because one of her brothers had also died much earlier. Betsy is a good role model for the boy, giving him permission to do many things he needs to do to cope with his loss. Betsy helps the boy find hope, tell jokes again, and begin a special Jennifer notebook. A storybook for young readers.
Weir, A. B. (1992). Am I Still a Big Sister?: Fallen Leaf Press (, , ), 38 pages. Illustrated by S. H. Thomer.
This story and its pen-and-ink drawings describe the many concerns and questions that a young girl has when her baby sister, Rachel, is ill and hospitalized. After Rachel%27s death, the girl%27s parents try to explain what happened. Above all, they stress the wonderful memories they all have of Rachel and the fact that the girl is still a big sister. The book also describes the subsequent birth of a new brother named Eric. This book grows out of the author%27s experience of the SIDS death of her second daughter and her attempts to explain those events to the girl%27s 4-year-old sister. A picture book for prereaders.
Yeomans, E. (2000). Lost and Found: Remembering a Sister. : Centering Corporation (, , -6000; tel. 402-553-1200; www.centering.org; e-mail = firstname.lastname@example.org), 32 pages. Illustrated by D. deRosa.
An unnamed child recounts the confusing experiences that she and her parents have after the chemotherapy and radiation stopped working and her sister dies. It confuses the girl when Grandma says that they “lost” Paige. The girl doesn%27t know what to do when her mother begins to cry a week after the funeral and just can%27t stop. So many things are different without a big sister to share and make the girl feel safe in the dark. A school assignment to draw a picture of her family makes the girl cry. One night, wrapped in Paige%27s blanket, the girl recognizes that Paige is still with her, loves her, and wants her to have fun. Gradually, the girl draws on memories and special places shared with Paige to begin to realize that Paige isn%27t “lost” forever, she is right there in their hearts and the girl knows where to find her. A book with brightly-colored pictures for young children.
Perinatal Deaths, Infant Deaths, and SIDS
Chin-Yee, F. (1988). Sam%27s Story: A Story for Families Surviving Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Illustrations by B. Johnson. Distributed by the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (, , , ; 416-488-3260), 32 pages.
Text and colorful drawings tell about the confusing experiences of a child in a family that experiences a death from SIDS. Sam is disturbed by the suddenness of Little Pat%27s death, the arrival of the ambulance and policemen, and all of the changes in Mom and Dad. As he says, “Little Pat took the HOME feeling away with him.” The tension and anger are difficult to live with until Sam is able to talk about what death means with Gran. Only then did the HOME feeling begin to come back as Sam and his parents get beyond their mutual misunderstandings and discuss what happened when Little Pat died. A storybook for young readers.
Gryte, M. (1988). No New Baby: For Siblings Who Have a Brother or Sister Die before Birth. : Centering Corporation (, , -6000; tel. 402-553-1200; www.centering.org; e-mail = email@example.com), 16 pages. Illustrated by K. McClendon. (Also available in a Spanish edition as No Tenremos Un Nuevo Bebé.)
In this book, a young child tells about her reactions when the anticipated birth of a new sibling does not happen. Grandma discusses this experience with the child. She explains that no one is to blame and we do not always have answers. A picture book for preschool children.
Johnson, J., & Johnson, M. (2004). Where%27s Jess?: Centering Corporation (, , -6000; tel. 402-553-1200; www.centering.org; e-mail = firstname.lastname@example.org), new edition, 24 pages. Artwork by P. Sieff.
Ray and Jody Goldstein%27s daughter, Jess, died at the age of nine months. That is the basis for this book, which is intended to be used with young children to help them cope with the death of an infant sibling whom they knew. A few lines of text, with simple drawings on alternate pages, explore topics like what “death” means, remembering the dead child, and the value of tears. A picture book for prereaders.
Keough, P. (2001). Remembering Our Baby: A Workbook for Children Whose Brother or Sister Dies before Birth.: Centering Corporation (, , -6000; tel. 402-553-1200; www.centering.org; e-mail = email@example.com), 20 pages.
This workbook includes pages designed to encourage writing and drawing to help share thoughts and feelings. It begins with finding out about the new baby in the family and then learning about the death. Also included are questions about these events and suggestions about things to do to remember the baby. An activity book for preschool and early school children.
Roper, J. (2001). Dancing on the Moon.: SIDS Educational Services (, 20785; tel. 877-935-6839 or 301-322-2620), 36 pages. Illustrated by L. Grimm.
Five-year-old Carly is jealous over all the attention paid to the new baby when he comes home. But one day when Nigel dies suddenly, everyone is sad and Carly wants very much to bring him back home. In her dream, she imagines flying to the moon to find Nigel. Even though Carly can%27t bring Nigel back with her, she realizes that he is with her everywhere inside her heart and they will never again be apart. A storybook for young readers.
Schlitt, R. S. (1992). Robert Nathaniel%27s Tree. : Lightbearers Publishers (, , ), 36 pages. Illustrated by C. B. Armstrong.
With soft pastel drawings and just a few words on every other page, a child tells about the things he likes, including getting ready for a new baby. But the baby dies, and then there is much that he does not like. Later, he likes caring for Robert Nathaniel%27s memorial tree and being his big brother—“even if he didn%27t come home.” A picture book for pre-readers based on the death of the author%27s third child.
Schwiebert, P. (2003). We Were Gonna Have a Baby, but We Had an Angel Instead. : Grief Watch (, , ; tel. 503-284-7426; www.griefwatch.com), 24 pages. Illlustrated by T. Bills.
Using bright, colored drawings and just one line of text on each page, a young boy tells how he anticipated the birth of the new baby. But something happened; the baby died and everyone is sad. Having the baby would have been more fun than missing him. The book also offers some suggestions to adults for helping bereaved children. A picture book for prereaders.
Simon, J. (2001). This Book Is for All Kids, but Especially My Sister Libby. Libby Died. : Idea University Press, 34 pages. Illustrated by A. Simon.
Five-year-old Jack struggles to understand the death of his young sister (from an unexplained congenital disorder). In a setting of his mother%27s dramatic, colorful illustrations, this book reproduces some of his many questions and comments. For example: “Mom, what if Libby was your first baby, and I was the middle kid? Would it have been me? Would I be dead now?”; “How do angels grow those wings out of their backs?”; “And if you don%27t need your body anymore are there just heads floating around?” A picture book for prereaders.
Deaths Resulting from Accidents
Aiken, S. (2001). Anna%27s Scrapbook: Journal of a Sister%27s Love. : Centering Corporation (, , -6000; tel. 402-553-1200; www.centering.org; e-mail = firstname.lastname@example.org), 46 pages. Illustrated by S. & S. Aiken.
The first six pages tell the following story. When Anna was eight, her baby sister, Amelia, was born. Anna loved Amelia and they shared many good times together. But one day, when she was a preschooler, Amelia had an accidental fall and did not make it through the night. Anna%27s grief was profound, as was the grief of the adults in her family. After the funeral, Anna kept a diary, which fills the next 18 pages of this book. In the diary, Anna writes about her reactions to the death of Amelia and then describes her project to make a scrapbook to keep her memories and photos of Amelia. Next a page invites the reader to develop the following 19 blank pages as his or her own journal and scrapbook. A spiral-bound book (approximately 5 ½” x 8 ½”) for middle school readers.
Connolly, M. (1997). It Isn%27t Easy.: University Press, 24 pages. Illustrations by R. Manahan.
When his big brother, 9-year-old Ross, is killed as he chases a ball into the street in front of a car, a little boy is flooded with many, complex feelings, including sadness, loneliness, and anger. As he reflects on good memories of his brother and the things the two of them did together, he gradually gets used to being an only child—but it isn%27t easy. A picture book for prereaders with soft pastel drawings and a few paragraphs of text on each page.
Greene, C. C. (1976). Beat the Turtle Drum. : Viking, 119 pages. Illustrated by B. Diamond.
This book describes the close relationship between 13-year-old Kate and her sister, 11-year-old Joss, in their warm, loving family. When Joss is abruptly and unexpectedly killed in a fall from a tree, the family is flooded with grief. Conveying this sense of the many dimensions of bereavement is the book%27s strong point. A storybook for middle school readers.
Other Bereavement Situations
Alexander, S. (1983). Nadia the Willful. : Pantheon Books, 48 pages. Illustrated by L. Bloom.
Nadia is a stubborn, impetuous young girl whose passions can only be restrained by her beloved older brother, Hamed. The setting for Nadia and her Bedouin community is depicted in the illustrations in this book. When Hamed does not return from a trip into the desert, her father, the sheik, in his grief decrees that no one may speak of his death. Nadia refuses to accept this decree and talks about Hamed openly. When a shepherd boy who talks with Nadia about Hamed is threatened with exile, Nadia helps her father and her family cope with their grief by sharing with them her warm memories of Hamed. In so doing, she illustrates the difference between coping with pain by closing off memories or by opening oneself to such memories and keeping them alive in one%27s life and heart. A storybook for young readers.
Muñoz-Kiehne, M. (2000). Since My Brother Died/Desde Que Murió Mi Hermano. : Centering Corporation (, , -6000; tel. 402-553-1200; www.centering.org; e-mail = email@example.com), 20 pages. Illustrated by G. Dietrich.
A child wonders if a brother%27s death is only a dream or if anything could have been done to keep him from dying. The child reports sadness in the family as well the child%27s own physical reactions (headaches and stomachaches). Afraid of forgetting this brother, the child begins to paint, with simple watercolor illustrations gradually turning into rainbows and the confidence that life can go forward. A charming book for young readers, also containing A Note to Parents and Caregivers, as well as A Note to Teachers and Counselors.
Romond, J. L. (1989). Children Facing Grief: Letters from Bereaved Brothers and Sisters.: Abbey Press, 40 pages.
In the form of letters to a friend, this book records the observations of 18 children (ages 6 to 15) who have each experienced the death of a brother or sister. In this way, it offers helpful comments from young people who have been there in grief. Perhaps best suited for middle school readers.
Turner, B. J. (1996). A Little Bit of Rob. : Albert Whitman & Co., 26 pages. Illustrated by M. Backer.
After the death of her big brother, Rob, and her parents find themselves unable to mention his name. They are trying to be strong and avoid crying. Several weeks later, they take their boat out crabbing again in an effort to resume some of the activities they had shared with Rob. In doing so and by sharing Rob%27s old sweatshirt, they are finally able to speak about Rob and realize that they will always have their memories of him to comfort them. A storybook for young readers.