Ageing is a natural progression in life but one that is often negatively depicted in our culture. Yet it is extremely important that people of all ages focus on all the good things to be experienced as we age. This is especially true for children who are seeing their grandparents get older. One way to do so is through children’s books. Here are five of my favorite children’s books that represent the ageing process in a positive light.
I Love My Glam-Ma (2019)
Written by Samantha Berger and Illustrated by Sujean Rim:
This book celebrates how glamorous our grandmothers are and their special talent of turning everyday activities into exciting adventures. What I liked most about this book was how glam-mas with varying levels of physical abilities are featured yet all are equally celebrated. “Some Glam-mas stroll and some Glam-mas roll” proclaims Berger as Rim depicts one Glam-ma pulling a wagon and another Glam-ma cruising by in her wheelchair with her skateboarding granddaughter in tow. Berger's catchy phrases paired with Sims’ whimsical illustrations will make this book a hit for Glam-mas and grandchildren alike.
Strega Nona Books (1975-2018)
Written and Illustrated by Tomie dePaola:
The Strega Nona books feature the kindly Strega Nona who serves as the local witch of her small town in Italy. With her apprentices, the bumbling Big Anthony and the sharp-witted Bambolona, she cures the various ailments of the villagers with her secret remedies and a little magic. A positive aspect of the Strega Nona series is how it shows older people offer wisdom that is beneficial to all, not only their immediate family members. Strega Nona has no biological children but she is grandmother to all her village and all are welcome to benefit from her care and expertise.
Written by Arthur Dorros and Illustrated by Elisa Kleven:
This charming tale celebrates the strong bond between a curious little girl and her Abuela. While feeding the birds at the park, Rosalba imagines herself and her Abuela flying through New York City- chatting in the clouds and racing the sailboats. Dorros’s story skillfully intermixes Rosalba’s imagination with stories of Abuela’s past and all the hard work she put in to get her and her family where they are today. Kleven’s mixed media artwork masterfully blends watercolor, pastels, and paper into a vibrant city scape where each page is full of colorful details you could enjoy for hours. In Abuela, Dorros and Kleven remind readers there are many adventures to be had at any age as long as you have the gumption to go on them.
These Hands (2010)
Written by Margaret H. Mason and Illustrated by Floyd Cooper:
These Hands follows a young boy and his grandfather throughout their day full of various activities such as baseball, baking, and tying shoelaces. The grandfather can’t do everything he used to but he is able to adapt so he can still have a very active lifestyle with his grandson. This is important because it highlights that even if your skill level has changed you can still do many things and enjoy them. Furthermore, your talents are integral to teaching others. With its poignant message and beautiful illustrations, These hands does not shy away from the theme that because of the struggles of our grandparents the younger generation is able to have a better life.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (1984)
Written by Mem Fox and Illustrated by Julie Vivas:
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge was the book that first came to my mind when I had the idea for this article. It features a young boy who sets out to help his friend Miss Nancy regain her memory. He asks her other friends at the home what a memory is and receives various replies: “Mrs. Gordon who plays the organ” says a memory is “something warm;” while Mr. Drysdale proclaims a memory is “as precious as gold.” Wilfrid finds examples of items from his life that represent these themes and brings them to Miss Nancy. With Wilfrid’s encouragement Miss Nancy recalls moments from her childhood and shares her stories to Wilfrid’s delight. What is so amazing about this book is how it takes on a very prevalent topic, memory loss, and explains it in a way that children can understand. It doesn't sugar coat the subject but instead shows how children and grown-ups can bond together even through difficult times. Fox’s clever wordplay and Vivas’ beautiful illustrations will easily evoke emotion in children and adults alike.