Cómo hablar de la muerte con los niños

How to talk about death with children

How to talk about death with children? When girls and boys have to experience moments of mourning, how should we approach the issue? Should we speak in metaphors or be wildly direct? They were concerns that came to the head of Lizardo Carvajal, a writer and illustrator of children's books, when he had to experience this situation firsthand.

A personal story

His story began five years ago, when his daughter Lúa was born and soon began to have a close relationship with Cassi, the dog of his maternal grandparents. Lúa and Cassi played like old friends. For her daughter, Cassi was more than a pet; she was his true friend. But Cassi was already 13 years old, she was old and it was difficult for her to walk.

When they received the sad news of the death of Cassi, Lúa's father wondered how to talk about death with the children. Thus, she began to search for children's books about the death of a pet or a loved one. “I didn't find much. And what I found did not convince me personally ”, tells us Lizardo Carvajal, who was looking for a more poetic view of death.

Soon, this Colombian illustrator and writer realized that many people around the world were also looking for ways to talk about death with children; stories that will help them explain and assimilate death to their children, in those moments of great pain. That was how he decided to create Malaika the princess, a 7 minute animated short that you can also buy in its printed version.


See Malaika the princess


It was thus that she began to write and illustrate her own story for children about death. “More than saying how to talk about death with the children, what I wanted was to create a moment of dialogue around the subject. "I think that children also have a lot to tell us about life and about death," says Lizardo, proud of his animated short that can be watch for free on Youtube, and which is now a literary success. Buy Malaika the princess.

Malaika the princess: how to talk about death with children

That was how she was born Malaika the princess. Lizardo Carvajal's challenge was to write a story that transcends the limits of the religious and the cultural. That he did not explain death to children through the mystical, or with ideas of reincarnation, paradises or life beyond life. The challenge was a book that revealed to us the poetry that death keeps. “If we look for the appropriate and subtle way to talk about death with children, we will be able to talk about a fundamental aspect of life. There is no life without death ”, the author of Malaika the princess.


Malaika She is an African girl, princess of a herd of elephants, who lives on the back of her father Komba. On the long journey to find the drinking fountains, MalaikaYou will understand that memory is the key to elephant survival.

The trip will bring dangerous hunters on the lookout, days of drought and drinking fountains without water; but also a wonderful encounter with the sacred Baobabs, mysterious trees of the savannah, which grow upside down. Difficult days come when Komba begins to sense death. Then Malaika will have to face one of the most difficult tests and a great learning.

An editorial success

Malaika the princess it has been all successful. Today it has more than 150,000 visits on YouTube, it was the winner in 2015 of the Grand Audience Prize of the Toronto Latin American Film Festival and in its printed version, published by the LuaBooks publishing house, it has already sold thousands of copies. Malaika the princess It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful ways to explain death to children and, why not, to adults themselves. A story full of tenderness and fantasy that will take you to the lands of memory.


Que maravilla de cuento, me llega al fondo de mi corazón , ahora que hace dos meses murió mi hermano. Me entregó alegría y pan frente a la muerte. Muchas gracias.

Ivone Rodríguez

Soy la mamá de Silvana y hoy 16 de abril nos llegó el Libro Malaika La Princesa y el de Los Monstruos. Estamos muy felices por tan mágicos libros. Excelente todo el trabajo que denota su editorial Sr. Carvajal. Felicitaciones a ud, su familia, su hija y su equipo de trabajo. Saludos desde Cali, Colombia.

Silvana Cortés Herrera

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