Celebrating Grandparents

May is Older Americans Month.  While the purpose of this celebration is to honor older Americans’ contribution to their communities, it’s also a good time for the young to think about their relationship with their grandparents.  There is no better way than through books.  Throughout history, elder members of families have been the source of wisdom.  In some cases, grandparents were and are the primary caregivers to children.  As we think about older citizens in our society, let’s not forget the role of grandparents in other cultures.  The respect of the elder may well be a value that unites cultures.  Many schools celebrate Grandparents Day in May or other times during the school year.  Public libraries have a role too.  Here are programming suggestions, along with titles from Random House that focus on grandparents:

Ask the very young what they call their grandparents.  Read the following books to spark this conversation:

I Call My Grandpa Papa by Ashley Wolff

I Call My Grandma Nana by Ashley Wolff

Invite grandparents to the library to read to children.  Encourage them to select a book that is a favorite among the children in their family.  Or maybe they choose to share a favorite poem from their youth.

Ask children to share something they like to do with their grandparents.  Perhaps it’s a craft activity, gardening, a sports event, reading books or magazines, playing games, singing or listening to music, watching television, etc. Then have them locate a book that they could recommend to their grandparents about their favorite activity.  Suggestions from Random House include:

Gardening – Two Little Gardeners by Margaret Wise Brown (picture book)

Singing – Wheels on the Bus by Raffi (picture book)

Picnics – Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold (picture book)

Sports – You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? by Johah Winter & illus. by Andre Carrilho (picture book)

Cooking –  The Magic Cake Shop by Meika Hashimoto & illus. by Josee Masse (middle grade)

Suggest that readers select a favorite book to share with a grandparent.  Let them know that if their grandparents live in another city or state that they might share the book via telephone, email or a letter. Then have readers write a one-page paper titled “The Book I Most Want to Share with My Grandmother or Grandfather.”

Introduce books where grandparents play a major role in a family.  Engage readers in a discussion about the relationship between the main character and her grandparent; how the entire family views the grandparent; what the main character learns from their grandparent.  Book suggestions from Random House include:

Estie the Mensch by Jane Kohuth & illus. by Rosanne Litzinger (picture book)

Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman & illus. by Stephen Gammell (picture book)

Alida’s Song by Gary Paulsen (middle grade)

Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (middle grade)

Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White (middle grade)

Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank (middle grade)

Crow by Barbara Wright (middle grade)

Faith, Hope and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (middle grade)

Journey by Patricia MacLachlan

Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall (middle grade)

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff (middle grade)

The Lost Songs by Caroline B. Cooney

The Secret of Gumbo Grove by Eleanora Tate (middle grade)

The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (middle grade)

Whittington by Alan Armstrong (middle grade)

Suggest books where the main character is searching for a grandparent, or a surrogate grandparent.  Suggestions from Random House include:

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It by Sundee T. Frazier (middle grade)

Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff (middle grade)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (young adult)

Ask young adults to read a book that reveals the role of grandparents in other cultures.  Sponsor a panel discussion titled “Global Grandparents: The Similarities and Differences of Grandparents Across Cultures.”  Suggestions from Random House include:

The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staple

Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry

Random House Teachers and Librarians