Teaching children about the concept of death is one of the hardest obstacles of parenting that I have recently experienced. With the recent passing of a close family member, my 4 year old son was asking a lot of questions, and having some fears that I wanted to address, but I wasn't quite sure how to explain death to him.
Then I remembered a book that I used to have as a child myself, and went on a mission searching for it. Luckily, I didn't have to look far to find a copy of "Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, " by Tomie DePaola. In this book, it tells the story of a 4 year old boy named Tommy who would visit his grandparents house every weekend; on the bottom floor of the house lived his grandparents, and on the second floor lived his 94 year old great-grandmother.
One day when Tommy comes to visit, his great-grandmother isn't there, and it tells of how Tommy learns where she went, and how he was sad. Then we read about Tommy as an adult, and how he still thinks of both "nanas, " even though both had at this point passed on.
I love this book, because it really addresses the feelings of children, and shows that it is ok to be sad, but memories are very important. I believe this story of Tommy really helped my son, in showing him how other little boys handle the subject of death, and reading this book together was a perfect springboard into discussions for my son and I into what was happening around us. The book is not too graphic, so it is not scary for kids, and just has helped us talk about a difficult subject, and so I am very thankful that there is a resource like this out there for parents to use.