There’s a special kind of bond between grandparents and their grandkids. These picture books are a wonderful way to celebrate National Grandparents Day and many are also perfect for Father’s Day with grandad this weekend.
Based on the funniest episode of Bluey (as voted by parents, and the Penguin staff!), this board book will have everyone laughing. Like all good Bluey stories, it also has a teaching moment as Bluey learns that playing together is more fun than being right. Plus, there’s an interactive lenticular in the back where you can make Bluey and Bingo do every child’s favourite dance move: the floss.
by Paul McCartney and Kathryn Durst
See the compass needle spin, let the magic fun begin! This book is a magical rollercoaster ride for all the family from beloved music legend Paul McCartney. Grandude whisks his four grandchildren – who he calls ‘my Chillers’ – away on a whirlwind adventure with his magic compass. Together, the family ride flying fish, dodge stampedes and escape avalanches.
Peppa Pig: My Grandpa
Peppa and George love their Grandpa – this brilliant board book sees the two kids admiring all the things their Grandpa Pig is great at, like building trains and reading bedtime stories.
Peppa Pig: My Granny
Peppa and George love spending time with their Granny, who is fantastic at so many things like playing games and gardening. This funny storybook is great to read aloud.
Granny McFlitter: A Country Yarn
by Heather Haylock and Lael Chisholm
Granny McFlitter, our favourite champion knitter, is back! And this time, it’s to save the A&P show. Can Granny outwit – or should we say outknit – a rampaging bull? This fabulously funny, rhyming read-aloud story follows on from Granny McFlitter the Champion Knitter.
The Tiny Star
by Mem Fox and Freya Blackwood
Mem Fox was inspired to write this story after meeting her newborn grandson and feeling overwhelmed with the realisation that she will not be around forever. A truly unique and heartwarming story about the journey of life and family love with breathtaking illustrations.
Spot Visits His Grandparents
by Eric Hill
Spot spends a day at his grandparent’s house listening to stories, playing in the garden and finding out what his mum, Sally, did when she was a pup. Fun lift-the-flaps make this book great for developing fine motor skills, early learning and play.
The Book With No Pictures
by B.J. Novak
If a kid is trying to make you read this book, that kid is playing a trick on you! Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say silly things like GLIBBITY GLOBBITY or BLORK. And especially if it is a nonsensical sentence about eating ants for breakfast. You’ll end up saying ridiculous things and making everybody laugh.
Miss Mae’s Saturday
by Justine Flynn and J. Yi
Miss Mae usually goes on marvellous adventures with her grandmother, but this weekend a storm keeps them stuck indoors. Mae is devastated, until Grandma produces a giant cardboard box and promises Mae it’ll be the most exciting adventure she’s ever had – Mae just needs a little imagination.
Grandpa’s Space Adventure
by Paul Newman and Tom Jellett
Grandpa and his grandson explore a new fear – the dark. But through Grandpa’s hilarious jokes and tall tales, his grandson discovers the amazing things you can see at night-time.
No matter what your kids call their grandparents, from oma, opa, mimi, granny, or gramps, the relationship between a grandchild and a grandparent is special indeed. Whether your child is celebrating grandma on Mother’s Day, papa on Father’s Day, nonna and nonno on Grandparents Day, or it’s just an ordinary Thursday, reading fun books about these special people with our little ones is always a good idea.
1. How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan is a funny story about role reversal. Instead of the grandpa being the babysitter, the child gets to do the babysitting. It’s a comical “how to” story including ideas of things to do with grandpa to keep him busy and happy.
2. Get ready to babysit grandma in How to Babysit a Grandma, also by Jean Reagan. Toddlers will be amused by the list of things to do with grandmas, including going to the park, having a costume parade, and making snickerdoodle cookies. Grandmas need to be kept very busy!
3. Grandma Loves You Because You’re You by Liza Baker is full of reassuring reasons that grandma loves her little one, from their time spent making pancakes together to picking wildflowers hand in hand. The rhyming lyrical text begs for grandma and her little one to snuggle together while reading.
4. We all love to daydream about our kids growing older with their grandparents. In When I Am Old With You by Angela Johnson, a little girl thinks about getting older and all the things she will do with her granddaddy.
5. How many things can a grandfather make from his coat? Your kids will find out in My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth. With a little snip here and a little stitch there to his tattered wears, grandfather is able to create many different things.
6. Your child can explore the world reading In Grandma’s Arms by Jayne C. Shelton while learning that a grandma can make the best buddy for her next big adventure!
7. Sometimes, it can be tricky forming connections between grandchildren and grandparents. In Drawn Together by Minh Lê your child can find all of the important ways to create a bond with a grandparent that can never be broken and communicate without needing words.
8. From the great Henry and Mudge series, share Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas (#26) by Cynthia Rylant with your child to teach him that grandpas can be a whole lot of fun, especially if your child’s grandparent lives with other grandmas and grandpas too!
These stories would make great gifts to keep at grandma or grandpa’s house, but they’re also good to have at home when a little one is missing their grandparent, too. Get ideas for how to celebrate grandparents — and print out a copy of this Grandparents Day card for your little one to color in!
Did you know that this coming Sunday is National Grandparents Day? Alas, it can be an overlooked holiday. Perhaps it’s because it comes on the heels of back-to-school and adjusting to new routines. Or maybe it’s just that we celebrate grandparents on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. But grandparents deserve their very own day, don’t they?
One of the ways we celebrate Grandparents Day in our house is by reading a grandparent-related book. All the more special if you can snuggle up on a grandparent’s lap and read together, but also a nice tradition if a grandparent is far away, or no longer living. Books provide a perfect backdrop to sharing memories, recipes, funny stories and family history.
Here are ten of my family’s favorite grandparent books—and a little bit about the connections we make when reading them. Do you have any favorites to add? Leave a comment about a grandparent book, or any family favorite, in the comments section below and I’ll choose one winner to receive a signed copy of Baking Day at Grandma’s, along with a baker’s dozen (13) holiday gift tags to tie round pretty bags filled with goodies, or attach to a thoughtful gift for a grandparent, teacher or special friend.
A charming follow up to the hit How to Babysit a Grandpa (Knopf, 2012), it’s a how-to manual from a little girl’s perspective. I love the gusto and good nature of Grandma, who seems equal to the the boundless energy and enthusiasm of her granddaughter. And since my kids are blessed to have fun, energetic grandparents—we get a big kick out of these books.
Because Your Grandparents Love You by Andrew Clements, illustrated by R.W. Alley
All three books in Andrew Clements’s series (there’s an installment for moms and dads, too) are gentle odes to family. I’ve heard books in this genre dismissed for their sentimentality, but there’s a reason young children (and parents) enjoy them. Is there anything more important to kids than knowing they are loved and cherished? Books that celebrate a special family bond—especially ones as charming as these—are warm and reassuring.
Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
Legions of readers have discovered the sweet and deceptively simple charm of Castillo’s Caldecott honor winning Nana in the City. For me, it brought back a flood of childhood memories. From clutching my mother’s hand through subway tunnels and up onto the bustling New York City streets, to how the ordinary became extraordinary whenever I spent time with my grandmother. Although it’s the little boy in Castillo’s story who dons a red cape—it’s Nana who feels like a superhero.
My Grandfather’s Coat retold by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Aylesworth’s rhythmic rendition of a favorite Yiddish folksong is a read-aloud treasure. The story follows one tailor’s coat through several iterations and generations. McClintock’s detailed pen and watercolor illustrations are perfect for the story, and we love the lyrical text:
My grandfather loved the coat,
and he wore it, and he wore it.
And little bit by little bit,
he frayed it, and he tore it,
until at last. . .
. . . he wore it out!
So what did my grandfather do?
He went right to work,
and he snipped, and he clipped,
and he stitched, and he sewed,
and out of the still-good cloth
of his handsome coat, he made. . .
. . . a smart jacket!
After picking up a signed copy at the Connecticut Book Fair last year, I read it to my girls. Then I pulled out my own grandfather’s coat, which was given to me by my mother, years ago. It’s a dress coat from the 40’s; a bit worn from age, but I can imagine it new, and my grandfather wearing it, all-dressed up for a party with my grandmother on his arm.
The book also has a recipe for Grandfather’s Coat Cookies printed on the back cover. Why not read the book, then try your hand at making them? Or pull out a favorite family recipe. Maybe something Grandpa loves.
Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Mango Abuela and Me, which released on August 25th from Candlewick, is another book that stirred memories from my childhood. It’s about a little girl whose abuela comes to live with her. At first, the language barrier makes their communication awkward, but through cooking, sharing time together, and with the help of a parrot Mango, they bridge the gap and find joy in one another’s company. My own great grandmother spoke to me in Spanish, even though I wasn’t fluent. I remember how sometimes it made me feel shy, and frustrated that I didn’t always understand her. But inevitably, the unspoken language of love and family settled in, and I’d relax into our special time together. Medina’s spare yet charming story and Dominguez’s warm, inviting illustrations will resonate with all families, but especially those that blend generations and cultures.
I remember when I first spied an advance copy of Lane Smith’s poignant picture book Grandpa Green while working at Barrington Books. I read the story and immediately wanted everyone I knew to read it, because it was so different and layered and beautiful. Soon the world did, and Smith was awarded a Caldecott honor for his brilliance. Grandpa Green is a very personal story about Smith’s great grandfather, but it tackles big universal themes of love, aging and loss. We read it after my children lost their grandmother, and though I never overtly related the book to their experience, I know they appreciated the story, and its deeper themes.
Me With You by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Christopher Denise
We’re a pair beyond compare,
a rare and special two,
in all the ways that I am me
and you’re completely you.
Since this post is about books I read with my daughters, I’m going to declare it fair game that I indulge a bit of nepotism and include a book illustrated by my husband, Chris. Kristy Dempsey (A Dance Like Starlight) originally wrote the poem in Me With You for her husband (aww… romantic sigh) but when Chris and his editor read the piece, they thought it would be lovely to illustrate it with a grandpa and granddaughter bear. Dempsey’s lyrical text and Chris’s vibrant expressive paintings make it a fine book to read in celebration of a grandparent and grandchild, or any “rare and special two.”
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
My daughter brought this home from her school library recently. It had been a long time since I’d read it, and it captivated me anew. This line: (“The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other.”) sums up the book, and the experience of being torn between a connection to two countries. It prompted a discussion about family origins, immigration and the many different places our grandparents and great grandparents came from.
Bigmama’s by Donald Crews
Another book plucked from the shelves of our library, Bigmama’s is an autobiographical story about traveling by train to stay with grandparents in Florida for the summer. (“There were hugs and kisses and ‘Oh my, how you’ve grown!’ and ‘How tall you are … is this you?”) Although our family takes a plane, not a train, and Tampa is a far cry from the rural countryside so lovingly portrayed in Crews’s book, my girls have a Pop Pop in Florida, and lots of family we only get to see once a year—so this story was extra fun for us to read.
The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and Chris Raschka
This book. I think perhaps I saved the best for last, because we love it so. As a child, it was my grandmother’s kitchen I loved most. I can still see her framed by the entryway, smiling, with a dish towel slung casually over one shoulder. For the little girl in Juster’s story, the picture window is her magical place. It’s the portal to fun and the window through which she says hello and goodbye to her Nanna and Poppy when they spend their days together. I also love that Nanna and Poppy are a biracial couple, yet it’s not really mentioned in the book. It just is. And that’s cool.
Which grandparent stories are your favorites? I’d love to hear about them. Leave me a note in the comments section below about a family favorite (it doesn’t have to be a grandparent book) with your name, and be automatically entered to win a signed copy of Baking Day at Grandma’s and a baker’s dozen (13) of our Baking Day gift tags.
I’ll announce the winner one week from today!
Happy Grandparents Day!