Is it me, or has there been an explosion of picture books about grandparents? Personally, I love children’s books that show loving inter-generational relationships with grandparents imparting their wisdom to the younger set. If your children have grandparents nearby, faraway, or only in their hearts grandparents play an important role in the upbringing of children. They can impart wisdom, be inspiring and offer extra support when other caregivers need a bit of a break. And most of all, they make great read aloud partners!
I hope you enjoy this book list featuring a diverse group of grandparents. I started out with en enormous list but did whittle it waaaaay down because it was too unwieldy, so yes, I guess there has been an explosion of grandparent children’s books lately. (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
My Grandma and Me by Mina Javaherbin. This is a wonderful picture book that relates a girl’s experiences shared with her grandmother in Iran. The girl narrates how her special relationship with her grandparent has given her wonderful memories of their time together, whether in play, religious devotion, or everyday tasks. The setting may be specific to Iran, but the feelings the girl describes are universal.
The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros. Sometimes relationships with grandparents are coupled with difficulties due to age related decline. This sensitive tale of how a boy and his grandfather use balloons to represent memories offers children a positive way of coping with a grandparent’s memory loss.
I Really Want to See You Grandma by Taro Gomi. I love this joyous book about the thrill of going to visit grandma. Yumi and her grandma are so excited about seeing each other that they race to the other’s house–at the same time! They may cross en route, but they eventually reunite. So fun!
In Plain Sight by Richard Jackson. In this absolutely charming story, readers will not just be delighted by the loving relationship between Sophie and her grandfather, they will learn about the rewards of careful observation. Sophie’s grandfather lives with limited mobility but every afternoon Sophie comes to spend time with him and fetch him things. He asks her to find this that have “gone missing” although they are actually in plain sight. The illustrations reveal the interests of the grandfather as he and Sophie play their “finding game.”
Ojiichan’s Gift by Chieri Uegaki. Mayumi learns how to care for and appreciate a garden from her grandfather. Mayumi’s grandfather lives in Japan and his garden is not filled with flowers, but with stones. When grandfather becomes too elderly to continue to live alone he must leave his house and garden and Mayumi channels her sadness over the loss by creating a small, mobile stone garden that her grandfather can always have with him. After reading this book, why not encourage your kids to create their own mini zen garden. Fill a shallow tray with sand, add in a few lovely stones and a tiny rake and let the calming begin!
Drawn Together by Minh Lê. This is an absolutely gorgeous book with a lovely intergenerational message. A boy and his grandfather are visiting each other, but they have trouble communicating as there is a language barrier. The key, however, is art. By drawing together, they learn to understand each other.
Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina. I love picture books with intergenerational stories. Mia’s Spanish-speaking abuela has come to live with the family. Mia and her grandmother now share a room, but they don’t know how to communicate. Abuela can’t read Mia’s English books and Mia doesn’t have enough Spanish words to share her experiences. One day Mia brings home a parrot which reminds Mia of her grandmother’s previous home and eventually, through practice, the family learns how to communicate fluently with each other. Also available in Spanish.
Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis, illustrated by Dušan Petričić. I love the message in this book. Benny loves to help his grandfather in his bagel shop. One day Benny’s grandfather says “Don’t thank me,” to a customer and Benny wants to know why. His grandfather explains that it is God who provided the ability to make the bagels. Benny decides to thank God by leaving bagels in the synagogue. The bagels start disappearing and Benny wonders if it is God who is eating them. Instead, he finds out that a hungry man has been taking the bagels to feed his family. At first Benny is upset that it wasn’t God who had been eating the bagels, but his grandfather teaches him that his gift did thank God since it made the world a little better.
Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez. This is a fun, exuberant book. Lucia runs through the playground with her red cape, and the boys tell her “girls can’t be superheroes.” This makes Lucia mad, “Spicy mad. KA-POW kind of mad.” Then, her grandmother tells her about the luchadoras and together they hatch a marvelous plan.
A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu, illustrated by Christina Forshay. Mindfulness doesn’t have to take place in solitude! I adore this book about how a girl connects with her grandfather over the practice of Tai Chi. Mei Mei joins her grandpa in the morning for his daily ritual but while he is smooth and graceful, Mei Mei puts her own spin on things, reminding us that mindfulness need not always be practiced in the stillness. A wonderful story.
Wild Berries by Julie Flett. A boy and his grandmother collect blueberries in the word. Along the way they observe wildlife from the ants to the elk to the birds. The overall feeling is one of calm mindfulness and the illustrations’ deceptive simplicity adds to that feeling. The spare text is in English, but some of the words are accompanied by their Cree equivalent. A glossary and pronunciation guide is included.
The Hello, Goodbye Window. Yes, indeed-y the author of The Phantom Tollbooth has a picture book! Not only that, but it’s illustrated by the illustrious, award-winning Chris Raschka. A young girl loves visiting her grandparents who have an inviting kitchen window you can climb into, look out of, and see your reflection in. The text takes us on a journey with the child as she describes her special relationship with her Poppy and Nanna. She has both African-American and white grandparents.
Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love. After seeing some fancily dressed women on the subway, Julián wants to dress up. At home he turns his abuela’s fern into a fancy hat, and her curtains into a mermaid’s tail. But instead of getting upset at Julián, his abuela takes him to a celebration where everyone is as fantastically dressed as he is. A lovely and warm story about acceptance and expressing yourself.
A Fire Engine for Ruthie. by Lesléa Newman. Ruthie goes to visit her grandmother, who has prepared for tea parties, dolls and dress-up. What Ruthie wants to do, however, is play with trains and fire engines and other things that go. When Nana finally asks Ruthie what she wants to do, Ruthie responds that she wants to play with the boy next door. The two become fast friends, bonding over train tracks and tractor-trailers. Ruthie’s Nana takes notice of what her granddaughter likes to play and joins in the fun herself. I like how Nana is quick to follow her granddaughter’s lead once she realizes that maybe all the “girly” things she had planned for the two of them weren’t really Ruthie’s “cup of tea” (so to speak).
The Raft by Jim LaMarche. Nicky goes to visit his grandmother who lives by a river in the woods. At first he thinks the summer is going to be boring, but Nicky’s grandmother encourages him to get outside. On the river he discovers a raft. He takes it out one afternoon and it becomes his daily activity. While floating every day, he admires the local flora and fauna. He even begins sketching what he sees. What I also love about this book is the development of the relationship between Nicky and his grandparent. Also check out his picture book, Pond.
Other lists that include picture books with grandparents: