When my grandmother died, I would see red birds everywhere. When she was alive, she told me to always blow kisses to them. I can't remember why she told me to do this as a child, but I made sure to always do it. After she passed, I got a tattoo of a red bird on my heart because she was the first piece of my heart that I lost.
When I saw the children's book WHEN THE RED BIRD FLIES by Courtney Reames Haydell, I felt that familiar twinge in my heart. I choked up and held back tears when I saw my experience (as a kinda sorta adult) reflected on the page of this little boy's life. This book is about a boy who lost his grandmother and wished for a sign from his grandmother that she was still with him.
I felt so connected to this story. I, too, felt my grandmother's presence through the red birds showing up during my good days and not-so-good days. Also, I love how southern this book is by referring to them as red birds and not cardinals because I don't call them cardinals either. It felt like my voice was coming through the page.
The story is very simple for children to understand grief, with colorful and engaging pictures that don't make it seem too heavy, even though it talks about a heavy topic. My favorite part of the book was the prompts in the back. There are reflection questions for children to think about happy memories of their lost loved ones and how they can cope when they miss them. Counting the ladybugs was also a cute addition.
When the Red Bird Flies is a great book to have on your bookshelf if your little one is experiencing loss for the first time!
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